Windows 8 Launch Did Little to Boost PC Sales

The slumping PC market was badly in need of a shot of adrenaline, and unfortunately, Microsoft's Windows 8 may not have provided that boost. According to data compiled by The NPD Group, Windows device sales have actually fallen 21 percent year-over-year since Windows 8 launched on October 26. Notebook sales have struggled the most, dropping 24 percent, while desktops declined 9 percent.

"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," said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD. "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."

Surface RT

News of lackluster PC sales comes on the heels of Microsoft announcing that it sold 40 million Windows 8 licenses, up tenfold over the 4 million the company said it sold in the first four days of availability. To date, Windows 7 has sold over 600 million licenses, but sales of Windows 8 are said to be outpacing its predecessor when comparing time frames.

Nevertheless, NPD says Windows 8 has captured just over half (58 percent) of Windows computing device sales, well below the 83 percent Windows 7 accounted for during its first month on the market.

"Windows 8 tablet sales have been almost non-existent, with unit sales representing less than 1 percent of all Windows 8 device sales to date," NPD says.

That's not terribly surprising. Microsoft faces a steep uphill battle in the tablet space as it goes up against established contenders like the iPad and Nexus 7. Plus, you have to think that some potential buyers are holding out for Surface Pro (x86) tablets instead of pouncing on Surface RT (ARM).

Windows 8 Notebook

It's not all bad news. NPD says Windows 8-based notebooks with touchscreens have been performing well, which "offers some reason for optimism." Such devices accounted for 6 percent of Windows 8 notebook sales selling at an average price of $867.