Microsoft: 350 Million Windows 7 Devices to Ship in 2012

Microsoft said it expects 350 million Windows 7 devices to ship by the end of 2012. This comes just a month after the company said it had sold more than 350 million Windows 7 licenses over the product's 18-month lifetime.

Microsoft said it expects 350 million devices running Windows 7 to ship this year.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, speaking at a May 21 forum in Seoul, said shipping 350 million Windows 7 devices €œmakes Windows the most popular single system,€ according to a Bloomberg report.

Last month, Microsoft said it sold more than 350 million licenses of Windows 7 in the 18 months the OS had been available at the time. However, now Ballmer is reportedly claiming Microsoft will sell 350 million Windows 7 licenses in 2012 alone.

On April 22, Microsoft€™s Brandon LeBlanc, wrote in a blog post, €œ18 months ago to this day was when we launched Windows 7, and with that we€™ve hit another important milestone: We are pleased to announce that Windows 7 has sold more than 350 million licenses. The momentum we€™ve seen and continue to see with Windows 7 is incredible.€

Also in April, in announcing its third-quarter earnings, Microsoft said its Windows and Windows Live Division posted revenue of $4.62 billion, a 4 percent increase from the prior-year period. Strong Windows 7 adoption continued with enterprise desktops on Windows 7, now up to 40 percent worldwide, the company said.

€œWe saw strong demand for our business desktop and infrastructure offerings,€ said Peter Klein, chief financial officer at Microsoft, following the earnings report.

The news of bustling Windows 7 sales comes as Microsoft girds for the upcoming release of Windows 8, which will thrust the company into direct competition with Apple in the hot tablet space. Windows 8 features support for ARM-based devices and sports a snazzy new €œMetro€ user interface for touch devices. Microsoft is betting big and pinning its hopes on success with Windows 8. Microsoft is expected to finish work on Windows 8 this summer and ship it in October.

€œWe€™re driving toward exciting launches across the entire company, while delivering strong financial results,€ Ballmer said in an April 19 statement following the company€™s third-quarter financial results. €œWith the upcoming release of new Windows 8 PCs and tablets, the next version of Office, and a wide array of products and services for the enterprise and consumers, we will be delivering exceptional value to all our customers in the year ahead.€

IDC forecasts that the PC market will grow 5 percent in 2012, compared with 1.8 percent growth in 2011.

The Bloomberg report points to Gartner estimates that more than 103 million tablet devices will be sold in 2012, with sales tripling, to 326.3 million in 2015. Apple is set to account for two-thirds of the market in 2012; however, the company€™s share will drop to 46 percent by 2015, while Microsoft€™s will climb to 11 percent, according to Gartner.

Futuresource Consulting also sees tablet sales increasing, but at a different rate. Global tablet sales exceeded 64 million units in 2011 and are on track to soar to 232 million units in 2016, according to the latest "Tablet Technology and Markets" report from Futuresource Consulting.

Futuresource said tablet ownership in the consumer market will increase by 200 percent across the United States and Western Europe over the next two years. The two regions reached an installed base of nearly 52 million tablets in 2011, with the market on track to exceed 153 million units in 2013. Ownership will be highest in the United States, with Western European markets showing significant opportunities for growth.