Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer didn't actually say that there will a half-billion Windows 8 users next year, despite earlier reports.
Earlier this week, AFP reported that Ballmer told attendees at the Seoul Digital Forum in Korea that there could be 500 million Windows 8 users worldwide next year. As one might expect, the online world was set ablaze by the news, since it took Windows 7 some 18 months to hit only 350 million licenses.
However, soon after the report was published, Microsoft issued a statement to Computerworld saying that Ballmer's comments were taken out of context, and the 500 million number was actually the "existing Windows users and analyst projections of PC sales for 2012 that could be upgraded to Windows 8 when the time comes."
That certainly appears to be the case. On Wednesday, Geekwire claimed to have obtained a transcript of Ballmer's statements at the conference. In the reported transcript, he says that there will be "something like 400 to 500 million users expected in the next year," which might have thrown AFP off. However, the context of that statement appears to relate to Windows users, and not Windows 8 users, specifically.
Microsoft's Windows 8 platform is expected to launch later this year. And although it might start to cannibalize Windows 7 sales, Microsoft is awfully bullish on its current operating system. In fact, Ballmer said earlier this week that he expects 350 million Windows 7-based devices to be shipped this year.