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PC Sales Actually Declined During Windows 8's First Month

If hardware manufacturers were hoping Windows 8 would jolt sluggish PC sales back to life, the past month has been a rude awakening. So claims the NPD Research Group, which says that Windows laptop sales between October 21st -- five days before the launch of Windows 8 -- and November 17th are down a whopping 24 percent compared to last year. That's the exact opposite of what the industry was hoping for.

The news comes just two days after Microsoft management proudly announced it had sold 40 million Windows 8 licenses over the operating system's first month, but murmurs from its OEM and retail partners paint a far less pretty picture that is more in line with the NPD's numbers.

Yesterday, Asus CFO David Chang said that "Demand for Windows 8 is not that good right now," which echoes earlier sentiments from Newegg SVP Merle McIntosh. In an interview with ReadWrite, McIntosh said that "(Windows 8 ) did not explode, as I think you know, coming out of the gate." He said that software sales were especially "slow going," while sales of Windows 8 hardware are also somewhat slow, but very gradually increasing.

Tablets have only accounted for less than 1 percent of all Windows 8 device sales, the NPD reports. Windows 8 was only installed on 58 percent of Windows devices sold during the month, compared to the 83 percent of Windows devices that sported Windows 7 in the four weeks after that operating system's launch.

So why the slow adoption? Worries about the drastically new interface may be part of it, but NPD's Stephen Baker says that an abundance of Windows 7 machines on store shelves is likely another strong factor. "The bad Back-to-School period left a lot of inventory in the channel, which had a real impact on the initial sell-through rates for Windows 8," he said in the group's press release.

The information from Microsoft's industry partners leads us to believe that actual adoption rates are far below the 40 million licenses Microsoft has sold. Reuters pointed out that that figure includes sales of Windows 8 licenses sold to Microsoft's hardware partners, and as Chang, McIntosh, and Baker indicated, a lot of the PCs and tablets carrying all those instances of Windows 8 are likely still sitting, unpurchased, in stock rooms around the world. Statcounter pegs the actual Windows 8 user active user base at around 1 million.

“After just four weeks on the market, it’s still early to place blame on Windows 8 for the ongoing weakness in the PC market,” Baker said.  “We still have the whole holiday selling season ahead of us, but clearly Windows 8 did not prove to be the impetus for a sales turnaround some had hoped for.”