How many copies of Windows 8 does Microsoft expect to ship in year one?

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Microsoft said today it expects to sell 500,000 copies of the Windows 8 operating system in the Irish market. Using this logic, we can project that globally Microsoft intends to ship at least 150m copies of the operating system worldwide in the first 12 months of its release.

Speaking today at the Virtual Computing Forum in Dublin, Microsoft Ireland director Martin Cullen hailed Windows 8 as "probably the biggest leap we’ve made for years."

On 1 June, Microsoft announced the Windows 8 Release Preview for download in 14 languages – the final step before the official launch of the new operating system.

Cullen told the conference this morning: "Ireland is 1pc of the EMEA marketplace, which is .3 (one-third) of the world marketplace.
“In Ireland, we will ship for the first 12 months about 500,000 copies of Windows 8.

“I’m probably being conservative in that volume. When you consider the volume of Windows 8 devices that will be going into the market, it’s phenomenally big."

OK, so taking Cullen’s logic, the EMEA marketplace for the first 12 months could see as many as 50m copies of Windows 8 shipped in the first year of its release.

Multiply that by three to get a global estimate and as many as 150m copies could be shipped in year one, according to Cullen’s "conservative" estimates.

Cullen’s estimates correlate with projections by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at the BUILD conference last September. Ballmer said at the time: "(Some) 350m Windows devices will be sold this year. No phone, tablet – nothing – on the planet, no OS, will ship 350m units of anything other than Windows and that creates opportunities for developers. When we ship Windows 8, there will be an installed base of 500m PCs that can be updated to Windows 8. Hundreds of millions of people will be the target for your innovation from day one."

Time to turbo charge the Irish IT economy

Cullen told the conference he believes Ireland is behind the curve in terms of technology adoption by business. "I don’t know why this is when you consider that the most thriving app development industries are coming out of Ireland."

By comparison, he said: "Northern Europe will invest three times the amount in IT than in Ireland."

He said Windows 8 will meet developers’ appetites for a mechanism to bring apps to market and added that the new OS will define the consumerisation of technology movement.

“The lines are becoming blurred between when you start work and finish work and that’s what Windows 8 is all about.

“From a device perspective, people coming into the workplace are demanding flexibility, but not many firms have policies for this."

In terms of security for the enterprise, he highlighted new capabilities like Windows To Go, a feature in Windows 8 Enterprise that allows Windows 8 Enterprise to boot and run from USB mass storage devices, such as flash drives.

“This means you can put your entire image on a USB device and have full access as if you are working on your own PC. The only cost involved is the cost of a USB stick. People now can rethink what they carry about with them."

Returning to the army of Windows 8 machines being prepared by OEMs, Cullen said: "There will be an emphasis on touch for the launch."

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com