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It's no easy task to gauge the impact Windows 8 is having on the industry, in part because the industry is changing. The traditional desktop is taking a backseat in popularity to mobile form factors, like notebooks, tablets, and hybrids. Windows 8, as you know, is an attempt to bring all these devices together, along with smartphones, under a unified user interface. Is Microsoft happy with its strategy up to this point?
Jason Pontin, MIT Technology Review's Editor-in-Chief, had a chance to speak with Steve Ballmer about Windows 8 and related topics. One of the questions he asked is what Ballmer feels is a reasonable adoption period for a new version of an operating system that's to be used by a billion people.
"Well, it’s a complex question. You’ll need to define what you mean by adoption rate. It’s affected by three things: How many do we sell? How quickly do people retire the installed base that they own? And what are the similarities and differences between the consumer market and the corporate market?," Ballmer said. "In the first 10 weeks, we sold 60 million copies. All new consumer PCs are now Windows 8 based. So in that sense, I would say that here the adoption rate is perfect."
Ballmer pointed out that consumers upgrade PCs less frequently than phones but upgrade them more frequently than TVs and game consoles. And in the corporate world, "adoption is always a little slower."
And what of Microsoft's Surface strategy?
"I'm super-glad we did Surface," Ballmer said. "I think it is important -- and not just for Microsoft, but for the entire Windows ecosystem -- to see integrated hardware and software....Surface is a real business. In an environment in which there's 350 million PCs sold, I don't think Surface is going to dominate volume, but it's a real business."