January 25, 2013, 1:53 PM — Windows 8 is passing two big milestones this week. On Thursday, Microsoft released its quarterly financial results, and hidden inside the numbers are clear indicators of the new operating system's impact on the company's bottom line. Tomorrow, meanwhile, marks the three-month anniversary of Windows 8's October 26 release date. The world has had plenty of time to live with the new OS, and now we can more comfortably score whether it's a success or failure.
Has the OS stepped up its game since our none-too-cheery one-month progress report? Let's just say that Windows 8's school grades still aren't quite meeting expectations.
The multi-billion dollar question: Are people actually buying Windows 8 and Windows 8-powered laptops, desktops, and tablets? The answer's far from cut-and-dry, because Microsoft refuses to provide many concrete details.
The company's quarterly earnings report showed the Windows division earning $5.88 billion in the holiday quarter, a staggering 24% increase over holiday 2011, but Microsoft maddeningly refused to provide specifics beyond that total. We still have no idea how many Surface tablets are in consumer hands, for example. At CES, Windows business head Tami Reller said that the company has sold more than 60 million Windows 8 licenses--but that figure includes licenses sold to manufacturers like Dell and Lenovo, making it an unreliable tool for figuring out whether everyday people are actually buying Windows 8.