Microsoft on Mac gains: Apple's not even close

Executives say that soon Windows will be on 1 billion computers.

By Farhad Manjoo

Published July 27, 2007 7:23PM (EDT)

At a conference of analysts and reporters yesterday, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and chief operating office Kevin Turner took pains to point out that their operating system is still far and away the biggest in the world. Despite recent news of a sales spike in Macs, Ballmer noted that the company is on track to reach 1 billion Windows users by 2008.

"If you stop and just think about that, parse that for a second, by the end of our fiscal year '08, there will be more PCs running Windows in the world than there are automobiles, which is at least to me kind of a mind-numbing concept," Ballmer said.

But it was Turner who brought the real heat on Apple. Windows Vista, Microsoft's latest OS, has sold 60 million copies since it was launched at the end of January; 40 million of those were sold in 100 days. "By our math, we eclipsed the entire installed base of Apple in the first five weeks that this product shipped," Turner said.

He also claimed that Vista saw one of the safest launches of any recent OS. "There have been just 12 serious vulnerabilities reported with Vista over the first 180 days versus 25 for Windows XP over the same period. This number is also lower than for Apple and other operating systems. We have also seen 21 percent fewer support calls for Vista versus XP over the same period," he said.

In the first six months after Apple's last operating system -- Mac OS Tiger -- was released, the company fixed more than 50 flaws, several of them security threats. Apple does not assess the danger of each threat, so it's unclear how many would have been comparable with the flaws Turner is counting in Vista.

Farhad Manjoo

Farhad Manjoo is a Salon staff writer and the author of True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society.

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