Microsoft Surface Adoption Worldwide

We made MarkedUp Analytics privately available to some Windows 8 developers in September, and thus we’ve had a chance to watch the Windows 8 ecosystem grow since well prior to its official 10/26 launch.

markedup-microsoft-surfaceAs many of you may have read this past week, Windows 8 sold over 40,000,000 licenses in its first month since release. That’s huge!

However, what about the Surface RT tablet Microsoft released on the same day? How well has it sold since?

MarkedUp Analytics was installed into some of the biggest apps in the Windows Store a month prior to the launch of Microsoft Surface; that puts us in a good position to use our data to make some educated inferences as to how well the Surface has really fared in the device marketplace.

Surface and the Windows 8 OEM Landscape

Before we jump into the specifics of Microsoft Surface, let’s consider the Windows 8 OEM ecosystem.

Since 9/28, MarkedUp has observed 307 distinct PC device manufacturers in our global data set for Windows 8 apps.

OEMs like HP, Dell, and Samsung still have a significant presence in the Windows 8 market, and the majority of it from devices that have been upgraded from Windows 7 and XP.

These traditional PC manufacturers also had a small, but statistically significant head-start over Microsoft in terms of total market share, because developers and big enterprises have had early access to the full verison Windows 8 since 8/15.

Windows 8 Market Share by OEM

This chart represents total market share by OEM across all devices that have used an app with MarkedUp installed in it since 10/26 until 11/24/2012, spanning roughly one month since Windows 8 and Microsoft Surface officially launched.

According to our data set, Microsoft has only one device in market – the Surface RT tablet. Our data set showed that Microsoft had statistically 0.0% market share prior to 10/26*, the day Surface and Windows 8 officially went on sale.

Microsoft’s 7.77% market share on this chart is represented solely by the adoption of the Surface RT tablet, and making Microsoft the 4th most popular OEM among Windows 8 users currently.

This number is also reflected in our analysis across all Windows 8 device models, rather than manufacturers:

Microsoft Surface Total Adoption v11-24-2012

MarkedUp has observed 11,385 distinct Windows 8 device models as of 11/24, and most of them are upgraded Windows 7 / Windows XP devices.

Microsoft Surface is by far the single most-used Windows 8 device from this cornucopia of hardware, occupying roughly 7.76% of the market.

The next most-used device model is the Samsung Sens Series laptop, like the Series 9 ultrathin notebook, with 3.31% market share, less than half of what the Surface RT has.

So with all of this market share data in mind, what’s the adoption rate for Microsoft Surface thus far?

Microsoft Surface Adoption Rate

So how quickly has the Surface RT tablet been adopted worldwide?

Well, we don’t have the absolute numbers since MarkedUp doesn’t have 100% market penetration across every unique Windows 8 device (working on it!) but we do have more than enough data to draw some inferences about the rate as which Surface RT tablets are being adopted.

The following chart shows the cumulative growth of the Surface RT’s installation base:

Microsoft Surface Daily Adoption v11-24-2012

As we mention in the callout on this chart, we decided that the best way to plot the growth of the Surface was to create an index and plot all of the cumulative growth relative to the index.

We set the index value 1 to be equal to the number of Surface RT tablets we saw activated on 10/26, the day it first went on sale. The final value on this chart has an index value of 120 for 11/24/2012, 29 days after the Surface went on sale initially – meaning that there were 120 times as many Surfaces activated by 11/24 than there were on 10/26.

So if Microsoft sold 10,000 Surfaces on day 1, then by the rate of growth on this chart they will have sold at least 1,200,000 units by 11/24.

Remember, this chart shows active devices that are being used and have consumed apps from the Windows Store, not devices that have been sold. The numbers on MarkedUp’s charts are effectively a floor for sales given that devices are sold before they’re used.

Microsoft Surface Adoption by Country

So we’ve shown you how quickly Surface RT tablets are being activated, but what about where they’re being activated?

Microsoft Surface Usage by Country v11-30-2012

MarkedUp has observed active Surface RT activity from users in 70 countries on 6 continents thus far, so the Surface is appears to be making inroads on Microsoft’s promise of broad international distribution for Windows 8 and Windows Store app developers.

In the chart above we broke out the percentage of Surface RT distribution by country including the 10 largest markets; the subsequent 60 markets all trail off quickly.

The United States has an overwhelming 68.52% share of all Surface RT tablets activated thus far with the UK coming in at a distant second with 9.10% share.

Our numbers across all Windows 8 devices are slightly different, but the US and UK both have dominate leads in those figures too.

One factor that may skew MarkedUp’s numbers towards the English-speaking world is that many app publishers forgo full international distribution in the Windows Store due to the fact that many parts of the world, including China and countries that have tighter content restriction laws, lengthen the Windows Store approval process and can even cause the app to be rejected outright.

So on that note, we strongly suspect that China in particular is under-represented on this chart given that it’s a massive market, but one that is more difficult for many app publishers to reach due to content restrictions.


Based on the data above, here is what we conclude:

  • The Microsoft Surface is the most heavily used ARM device in market for Windows 8 by a wide margin thus far and it is the single most-used device overall for Windows 8;
  • Surface’s growth appears to be strong, but it’s difficult to extrapolate the absolute number of units have been sold without knowing what the total day 1 sales were;
  • Surface RT is being adopted in primarily English-speaking countries, but has broad international reach; and
  • The majority of devices in market for Windows 8 are upgrades from previous versions of Windows, not new devices that came with Windows 8 installed; we’ll see how this changes as we collect more data from the Holiday season. The fact that the Samsung Sens Series made a strong appearance on our device model breakout shows signs of a growing ecosystem of net new Windows 8 machines from non-Microsoft OEMs.

Thanks for reading! If you’re a Windows 8 developer and would like access to the beta of MarkedUp Analytics for Windows 8, click here!


Here are some other interesting statistics from our OEM data set:

  • The remaining 24.48% OEM market share not shown on the OEM chart represents 296 long-tail, smaller OEMs including VMWare virtual machines and a number of motherboard manufacturers used in home-made PCs.
  • There are three different device architectures that Windows 8 supports: ARM, x86, and x64. Surface is the only major ARM device in market thus far, although there are more ARM (RT) tablets on the way. In our public Windows 8 launch data set, we’ve observed the following trend consistently since the Windows 8 launch on 10/26:
    1. x64, 64-bit Intel hardware, is used by roughly 70% of the daily active usersfor the entire Windows 8 ecosystem every day;
    2. x86, 32-bit Intel hardware, is used by roughly 20%; and
    3. ARM, the new architecture for lightweight tablets like the Surface, is used by the remaining 10% of daily active users.

*MarkedUp observed some Microsoft Surface RT devices appear as early as 10/18 in our data set, but not enough to be statistically significant. We suspect that they were preview devices given to select app partners, press, and others with early access.