May 30, 2013, 4:23 PM — Former Windows chief Steven Sinofsky today defended Windows 8's performance in the market, saying, "It's hard for me to look at selling 100 million of something and not feeling great about it."
Microsoft first touted the 100-million number three weeks ago, when Tami Reller, one of the two executives who replaced Sinofsky after he was ousted from the company last year, used it during a quick media blitz to publicize the upcoming Windows "Blue," which has since been branded Windows 8.1.
But estimates based on Windows 8 usage data suggests that there are far fewer PCs running the radically-overhauled operating system: Approximately 59 million by Computerworld's count.
Windows 8 has taken considerable heat for underperforming -- at least to the expectations of analysts and OEMs -- and been blamed by IDC for contributing to plummeting PC shipments.
At the AllThingsD conference, where he was interviewed by Wall Street Journal columnists Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, Sinofsky evaded when he was asked why Windows 8 has not done better.
"The industry is undergoing a tremendous amount of change," Sinofsky said instead, adding he preferred to look at the big picture. "The nature of the computer is undergoing a transformation. [But] while it's going on, you have to resist the urge to pick winners and losers and right and wrong and who's on top, because it will play out over many years."
Many of those same sentiments have been expressed by others -- including industry analysts -- to explain why Windows 8 has not boosted sales of traditional PCs, as have all previous Windows upgrades.
According to IDC, which pegged the PC contraction at 14% in the first quarter, shipments will fall 8% in 2013 compared to the year before. The research firm is now projecting a three-year decline in personal computer shipments worldwide.
Sinofsky declined to go into detail about his departure from Microsoft, portraying it -- as he did at the time -- as a change he initiated. "It was time to do something different. You have to pick a time, and so I picked a time," he told Mossberg and Swisher.
Outsiders, however, saw it differently, casting his exit as forced, not voluntary, triggered by internal personality clashes and the weak start to Windows 8.
But today he seemed to have no hard feelings. "I love Microsoft," he said. "I love the people, the leadership."