Microsoft Says It Has Sold 40 Million Windows 8 Licenses

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), the world’s largest software maker, has sold 40 million licenses for Windows 8, an updated version of its flagship operating system that can work with touch-screen technology.

The newest Windows software has outpaced the previous version in terms of upgrades, Microsoft said today on a blog post and a speech by Windows Chief Financial Officer Tami Reller. The executive, who oversees the marketing and financial part of the Windows unit, didn’t comment on sales of the Surface tablet, Microsoft’s first-ever computer.

Microsoft hasn’t disclosed Windows 8 sales since Oct. 30, when Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer said the company had sold 4 million upgrades in the first four days. License sales include upgrades, copies shipped on new computers and those given to corporations with multiyear licenses. While it’s difficult to gauge demand with the number by itself, the pace of growth should please shareholders, said Bob O’Donnell, an analyst at market research firm IDC.

“It sounds pretty high, especially since Ballmer initially said 4 million for first few days,” O’Donnell said. “Four million to 40 million sounds pretty good.”

Microsoft is overhauling its product line to remain relevant in the post-PC era. The Redmond, Washington-based company dominated the technology landscape during the heyday of the personal computer in the 1990s and much of the last decade, yet has been eclipsed in influence by a resurgent Apple Inc. (AAPL) and the rise of mobile devices taking the place of PCs that run Microsoft’s flagship Windows operating system.

Windows 8 represents Microsoft’s biggest change to its flagship product in nearly two decades -- designed around a revamped home screen featuring colorful tiles that launch programs and update users with current information from the Internet. On Oct. 26, the same day Windows 8 went on sale, Microsoft started selling Surface, a tablet computer designed and built by the company.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dina Bass in Seattle at dbass2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Lisa Rapaport at lrapaport1@bloomberg.net

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