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Asus and Acer execs express concerns about consumer demand for Windows 8

Microsoft said this week that licenses for its new Windows 8 operating system are selling like hotcakes, but some Asian computer manufacturers are telling a different story, according to The Wall Street Journal.

"Demand for Windows 8 is not that good right now," David Chang, chief financial officer for Asus, told the WSJ. The newspaper also reported that Acer executives "were uncertain how Windows 8 would be received by consumers."

Those doubts expressed by Asian OEMs come on the heels of Microsoft's own report that it has sold tens of millions of Windows 8 licenses since the next-gen operating system was released last month.

"The journey is just beginning, but I am pleased to announce today that we have sold 40 million Windows 8 licenses so far," Microsoft CFO Tami Reller said at the Credit Suisse 2012 Annual Technology Conference earlier this week.

In a follow-up blog post, Microsoft said that its new PC platform "is outpacing Windows 7 in terms of upgrades. We built Windows 8 to work great on existing Windows 7 PCs. And we also set out to make upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 8 super easy."

The emphasis on upgrading to Windows 8 from Windows 7 may go some way toward explaining the seeming inconsistency between Microsoft's numbers and the reports trickling out from PC companies like Asus and Acer. If the early stages of the Windows 8 rollout are seeing more upgrades on existing Windows machines than sales of new PCs, both narratives could be accurate.

On the other hand, Microsoft has been known to trumpet record-breaking initial sales of preceding versions of its operating system like XP, Vista, and Windows 7, only to have those numbers come under scrutiny later. For example, when Redmond released Windows Vista several years ago, the software giant said it had sold 20 million licenses during the first month of availability. But watchdog site Microsoft Watch quibbled with Microsoft's numbers, claiming the company used a Vista-versus-XP comparison "to bolster its Vista gangbusters sales claim" and that "Vista is actually off to a slower start than Windows XP, using real world comparisons."

Microsoft released Windows 7 in October 2009, and claimed to have sold 90 million licenses by March 2010. CFO Peter Klein then said at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference that Windows 7 was "the fastest selling operating system in history."

Again, critics were sceptical. NPD reported that Microsoft moved more stand-alone Windows 7 software units in its first week than it did with Vista, but that Windows 7-based PC sales were not as high as they'd been with the previous OS.