Analysts expect Windows 8 to flop and PC sales to suffer, but Microsoft's chief executive thinks sales will reach at least 500 million by the end of 2013.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer predicts that more than 500 million people will be using Windows 8 by the end of next year, AFP reports.
Ballmer, who was speaking at a forum in Seoul, South Korea, also expects Windows 7 to hit the 350 million device milestone later this year.
Windows 7 shot ahead of Vista and became the fastest-selling operating system to date. According to Net Applications, Windows XP has a declining share of 46 percent, while Windows 7 has a rising share of more than 38 percent.
At the current trend, Windows 7 could overtake Windows XP in October -- coincidentally the month slated for the forthcoming release of Windows 8.
Windows 8 should be an interesting and testing time for Microsoft. While the upcoming operating system will run on PCs and tablets alike, the ultrabook market is still developing -- in competition with Apple's MacBook Air -- and will likely boost sales in the slimmer and more aesthetically attractive notebooks.
Gartner says more than 100 million tablets will be sold in 2012, with the figure tripling to more than 320 million tablets in 2015. The research firm estimates that Windows 8 will gain more than 12 percent of the tablet market, dwarfed by Apple's nearly 60 percent, with the iPad.
Last week, BMO analysts cut Hewlett-Packard and Dell's price targets, after one of its analysts claimed that "Windows 8 will prove to be a disappointment, at least out of the gate." Analysts do not think that Windows 8 will be as successful as Windows 7 was and continues to be, and that PC sales could suffer as a result.
Having said that, if Windows 7 continues to sell hot off the shelves and overtakes Windows XP in time for an October arrival, Windows 8 could push through the expected worst of it and prove analysts wrong.
This story originally appeared at ZDNet's Between the Lines under the headline "Microsoft: 500 million will run Windows 8 in 2013."