Although Windows 8 is expected to hit store shelves later this year, Microsoft believes its current operating system, Windows 7, will have an awfully good year.
Speaking at a forum in Seoul this week, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said that his company expects 350 million Windows 7-based devices to be shipped this year. Bloomberg, which was in attendance at the event, was first to report on the news. Ballmer said that the operating system's success "makes Windows the most popular single system."
If that many Windows 7 devices are actually shipped this year, it would indicate accelerated demand for the platform. In April 2011, Microsoft announced that it had sold 350 million Windows 7 licenses in the operating system's first 18 months of availability.
"The momentum we've seen and continue to see with Windows 7 is incredible," the company said at the time.
Windows 7's success has come despite a rapidly increasing demand for tablets -- a sector of the computing market Microsoft has been unable to capitalize on. However, the company plans to make its move into the tablet market later this year with help from Windows 8. That operating system is expected to be available on a host of products from several vendors, including Lenovo and Dell.
Whether Windows 8 will be popular on tablets, however, remains to be seen. Earlier this month, NPD DisplaySearch reported that it believes Windows 8 tablets will only reach 4 million unit shipments next year, representing a sliver of the 184.2 million units expected to hit store shelves. By 2014, Windows 8 tablets are only expected to tally 11.6 million units shipped, according to the research firm.
"Let's face it, [Windows 8] is fighting a pretty steep uphill battle against iOS," NPD DisplaySearch analyst Richard Shim said earlier this month.