By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
May 9, 2008

Apple has no numbers to compare with the 140 million copies of Vista that Bill Gates says Microsoft (MSFT) has sold since the latest version of Windows started shipping in late 2006. (link)

Literally, no numbers. The last time Apple (AAPL) released a Leopard sales figure was Oct. 30, 2007, when the company said that it had sold more than 2 million copies of Leopard in one long weekend (see here). Apple reported $170 million revenue from Leopard sales in the December ’07 quarter, but that represents fewer than 1.3 million copies. Apple also sold 2.32 million Macs that quarter, more than 2/3 of which probably had Leopard pre-installed.

Even so, the two operating systems aren’t even playing in the same ballpark when it comes to raw sales.

Of course, Vista was greeted with brickbats and Leopard with raves, but Gates didn’t dwell on that in Tokyo Wednesday, where he gave his Japanese partners an update on how Vista is doing. “That’s a very rapid sales rate,” he said.

Not necessarily.

“The most significant number,” says Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, “is Apple’s upgrade penetration vs. Microsoft’s. Apple estimated that about 19% of the OS X user base was on Leopard by the end of its launch quarter. By my math, Vista is used by about 12%-14% of the Windows user base more than a year after its retail launch.”

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