So far Windows 8 has nailed down 58% of the Windows device sales compared to the 83% achieved by Windows 7 in its first four weeks, NPD says in a press release.
Windows 8 tablet sales are even more dismal, accounting for less than 1% of the Windows 8 sales, according to NPD. That means they account for a miniscule share of the larger, overall Windows device market. That doesn't include sales of Microsoft's Surface tablets, which are sold only in Microsoft stores and for which Microsoft has given no sales figures.
It's not conclusive, but this picture of Windows 8's performance contrasts with the impression Microsoft is making, boasting this week that 40 million license for the operating system were sold since Oct. 26.
While generally discounting comparisons with other OS launches, the CMO/CFO of Microsoft's Windows and Windows Live division, Tami Reller, says the success to date of Windows 8 is comparable to that its predecessor. "The 40 million is roughly in line with Windows 7," Reller says in an interview at the Credit Suisse tech conference this week.
The Windows 8 numbers are part of a bigger picture of lower U.S. Windows PC sales generally, according to NPD. Fewer Windows devices have sold in the U.S. since Windows 8 launched last month than were sold during the same period last year, the group says.
Since the Oct. 26 kickoff, sales of Windows devices in the U.S. is off 21% from the figures racked up during the same weeks of 2011, dampening hopes that the new operating system would jump-start the flagging PC market, the group says.
While the results so far aren't encouraging, it's premature to dump all the responsibility on Windows 8, says Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD, in a press release. "After just four weeks on the market, it's still early to place blame on Windows 8 for the ongoing weakness in the PC market," Baker says.
The numbers are bleak across different PC form factors with notebook sales down 24% and desktops down 9%, NPD says, but Baker holds out hope. "We still have the whole holiday selling season ahead of us, but clearly Windows 8 did not prove to be the impetus for a sales turnaround some had hoped for."
Part of the problem is slow back-to-school sales that left retailers with higher inventories of Windows 7 devices than anticipated, drawing off potential Windows 8 sales.