Microsoft this week tried to mute reports that Windows 8 is off to a slow start, disclosing that it has sold about 40 million licenses for the OS since launch. Microsoft says that's on par with the debut of the highly successful Windows 7. But without additional context, which Redmond refuses to provide, the numbers are meaningless.
The most important fact that can't be gleaned from Microsoft's "disclosure" is the extent to which Windows 8, available to consumers since Oct. 26 and to businesses since mid-August, is driving new hardware sales. Microsoft may have sold millions of Windows 8 licenses to PC makers, but if their touch-tablets, convertibles and all-in-ones are languishing on store shelves or in warehouses, that doesn't bode well for the operating system's future.