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Windows 8’s appeal tough to gauge

SAN FRANCISCO — About 40 million Windows 8 licenses were sold in the product’s first month on the market, Microsoft said.

released in conjunction with the company’s annual shareholder meeting held near its Redmond, Wash., headquarters.

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That number may look impressive, but it’s difficult to know what it means without more insight into how many Windows 8 devices have been sold in stores, said analyst Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy. PC makers pay for most Windows 8 machines, leaving it unclear how many have been purchased by consumers, companies, and government agencies.

Microsoft said only that Windows 8 is being embraced by a list of companies that includes Johnson & Johnson, British Telecom, and Bank of America Corp.

The initial reception appears “good but not great,’’ Moorhead said. ‘‘Is this going to be enough to turn around the PC market? No.’’

Analyst Rick Sherlund of Nomura Securities said it’s going to take longer than he initially expected for Windows 8 to make a significant difference in a market that is moving away from desktop and laptop PCs toward smartphones and tablet computers.

Microsoft built Windows 8 to enable people to control their PCs by touching the screen, as on mobile devices. A similar system, Windows RT, runs a tablet called Surface that Microsoft created.

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