Nov 282012

In TMA’s real life, he’s sometimes forced to stay overnight for work, which is a pain in the ass. Especially when you leave your overnight bag on the bed at home. This leads to a question the next day of how likely you think your clients are to notice you’re wearing the same clothes. If the answer is “probably”, you do what I did and go to Macy’s to pick up a new version of the most pungent part of your suit-fit: the dress shirt. I haven’t been to Macy’s in a while, and I probably won’t be back anytime soon. The problem I had was that the first 5 shirts I picked up didn’t have price tags. This is beyond annoying. There are clearly-marked signs all over the men’s section crowing about 30% off! (with an extra 20% if you apply for a Macy’s card!), but most of them had no price. I stopped solving for x in 8th grade, which is something I remind my wife of whenever she says she got something for 50% off. 50% off what? Yes, my wife is a saint for putting up with me. Give me all – or at least most – of the data so I can make a decision or go scratch.

The point of this particular tangent is that people who don’t gobble up reality TV for their entertainment usually require context when they’re making decisions about stated facts. In the technoverse, the data point asterisks abound. Look at any consumer electronics company not named Apple crowing about their unit sales and you’ll see what I mean. “Samsung Galaxy Note II Passes Five Million Channel Sales In Two Months“, where “channel” consists of not only people who bought the device, but the millions of miles of  suppliers, carrier and retailer shelves upon which these “phablets” sit before they’re sold – if they ever are. Samsung, like most companies competing against Apple, are coy about their sales figures. When they do release them, they’re almost always in the form of “channel sales”, even if they’re not called that by the company. It’s a cheeky way to pump up the perceived popularity of a device with the reality TV crowd. They’re as impressed by these non-statistics as they are with Samsung’s slutty wife commercial. Full disclosure: I was slightly impressed by Samsung’s slutty wife.

Another company famous for their incomplete data sets is Microsoft and they’ve been doing this shit forever. They did it with the Xbox to amp their console’s prospects against Sony and Nintendo, all the while pumping billions into the program to replace half of the units that were/are part of the RROD debacle. They’ve done it repeatedly with every version of Windows. Now the company is claiming that it has sold 40 million Windows 8 licenses, which at this rate makes it the fastest-selling version of Windows ever. Not bad for an OS that has faceplanted into the saw blade of the tech community’s reviewerati.

As you can imagine, this number is worth about as much as a Steve Ballmer autograph. Hat tip to TMA reader @brianmmonroe for this CITEworld article laying out some basic questions that the 40 million figure doesn’t answer, such as how many of these were the result of Windows convoluted enterprise licensing system whereby companies have the right to downgrade systems to Windows 7 when they perform their hardware refreshes? And seriously, how many of these systems loaded with Windows 8 are actually going to be deployed? And this is in addition to the BS “channel vs. sales” figure that Microsoft is not going to answer. Not even ZDNet’s Microsoft megaphone Mary Jo Foley could get a clarification from the company about what the number means:

Yes, we don’t really know exactly what “licenses sold” includes and does not. Sold to consumers? Sold to channel? Includes licenses grandfathered in through volume license agreements. I’ve asked Microsoft to see if officials will clarify. If they do, I’ll add an update here.

And the official word from a spokesperson: “We have nothing more to share.”

Poor Mary Jo. Redmond only indulges her when they need her to talk up their stuff. You want to ask questions? That’s one helluva co-dependent relationship. Maybe Microsoft was horribly scarred by a pundit in the past – one that declared their undying love only to have it thrown in the company’s face after they panned Windows ME. Maybe, as a company, “we have nothing more to share” represents an entity emotionally incapable of sharing, lest the pain of actual facts cut deeper into its bottom line.

  One Response to “40 Million People Will Use Windows 8. Or Something.”

  1. With 86.7M PCs sold in Q2-2012 (, and PC vendors needing to order licenses for preinstallation ahead of manufacturing/shipping, what’s being said by Microsoft is that only half a quarter of supply has been ordered. That, indeed, is a face plant! It’s even worse if you are willing to suppose that PC manufacturers order licenses from Microsoft in bulk, like say, a year’s supply.

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