Windows 8 first-month sales outpacing Windows 7, but who's really buying?

Windows 8 launched one month ago to great fanfare—and racked up some impressive sales numbers, according to Microsoft.

Speaking yesterday at an Arizona technology conference, Microsoft's new Windows chief Tami Reller announced that the company has sold 40 million Windows 8 licenses to date, a number that puts the new operating system ahead of Windows 7 during its first month.

However, as Gizmodo's Brian Barrett points out, the sales figures raise a number of questions, not the least of which is how many people are actually using Windows 8:

"It's easy to forget that the vast majority of Windows 8 licenses Microsoft sells isn't direct to consumers. It's to Lenovo, HP, Dell, and all of its other hardware partners, who then go on to sell (or not sell) those devices to real human people. So how copies of Windows 8 are on family room desks, and how many are collecting dust on a Best Buy back shelf?"

Barrett also suggests that Microsoft undoubtedly moved a lot of licenses by offering a historically low upgrade price of $40, which encouraged many users to buy the OS sight-unseen, or at least mouse-unused. Whether or not Windows 8 will continue to sell well after the price goes up (starting in February) remains to be seen.

It's worth noting that regardless of operating system, mobile workers continue to rely on remote access software for everything from retrieving files to running programs not currently available on their laptops or tablets.

Indeed, Windows 8 has drawn some criticism for both its lack of apps and its unintuitive Desktop mode, which lacks a Start button and therefore makes legacy software more difficult to access. With a tool like LogMeIn Free, users can connect to their office PCs to run older programs and/or bypass Windows 8 altogether.

[ This sponsored article was written by IDG Creative Lab, a partner of PCWorld. ]

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