An often irreverent look at this week's other news, including a long overdue vacation, my new (and free) e-book, Paul Thurrott’s Windows Phone 8, a look at the Windows 8 usage numbers and what they say about downgrades, a new high for Windows Phone market share, a small Xbox One change ahead of launch and some thoughts from John Carmack, and Android’s dominance of the tablet market grows.

Next week: Vacation

Next week, I’m going to do something I’ve not done in over ten years: I’m going to take a week off. We’ll be touring around Belgium during the week and I won’t be doing any work-related activities, including reading or answering email, moderating comments, or whatever. But my understanding is that WinInfo will still be published each day next week, and I’ve scheduled at least one update each day for the SuperSite for Windows that I think many will find interesting. See you when I return. –Paul

Achievement unlocked: Paul Thurrott’s Windows Phone 8 is now complete

Earlier this morning, I finished writing my latest book, Paul Thurrott’s Windows Phone 8. Available for free as a gift to the Windows Phone community, the book is also my first major foray into self-publishing, and while it’s only currently available in PDF format, I’ll be updating it soon with more information and publishing in various major e-book formats, including Kindle. Thanks to everyone who provided feedback and contributed in other ways during the too-lengthy development of this book. I’ll have information about coming updates and my plans for the next book soon.

Windows 8 usage: Let’s do a little math

According to a recent report by NetApplications, Windows 8 now accounts for just 5.9 percent of all PCs in the world, a measure of usage share (“usage”), not market share (“unit sold”). Many seem surprised that this number is so low. But I think it makes sense. First, remember that there are now 1.5 billion PCs running Windows in the world, according to Microsoft. (About 10 percent of all PCs run Mac OS X or Linux, according to NetApplications, but we’re just eye-balling here.) So, there are roughly 88.5 million Windows 8 users worldwide, since 5.9 percent of 1.5 billion is 88.5 million. Now, we know that Microsoft sold 60 million Windows 8 licenses through January and has been selling roughly 13.5 million licenses a month since then. If you add that up, you get 141 million, a number that is quite a bit higher than 88.5 million. So the delta of those two numbers—over 50 million—is roughly representative of the number of Windows 8 licenses that were downgraded to Windows 7. So over 1-in-3 Windows 8 licenses sales were downgraded (or not otherwise used).

Windows Phone hits 4 percent market share

And speaking of market researchers, Strategy Analytics this week said that Android hit 80 percent market share (184 million units) in the second quarter of 2013, with Apple’s iPhone falling to 14 percent (32 million units), its lowest level since Q2 2010. But the big news, naturally, is that the third-biggest smart phone platform, Windows Phone, leapt to 4 percent market share (9.2 million units), its highest-ever ranking. So Windows Phone is already one-third the size of the reeling iPhone, which once dominated the market. I wonder when it will surpass iPhone.

Xbox One getting upgraded ahead of launch

I guess this is what happens when you announce a product like the Xbox One 6 months before you actually ship it to the public: Those specs that seemed so great in May don’t look as hot in July, so they get upgraded before the device even hits the streets. This week, Microsoft revealed that it has “tweaked” the clock speed of the Xbox One graphics chipset from 800 MHz to 853 MHz. OK, it’s not that dramatic, but in the suddenly close-seeming battle with Sony, every MHz counts. And perhaps not coincidentally, game developer guru John Carmack (of DOOM, Quake, and Rage fame) said this week that both the Xbox One and Sony PS4 were “very close” (to each other) and “very good.” But Carmack did rain down some criticisms of Kinect, which I think are absolutely correct: He called it a “fundamentally a poor interaction” because of latency and frame rate issues, and that it was like using “a zero-button button mouse.”

Android storms ahead in the tablet wars too

Android tablets surpassed the iPad in shipments in 2012, but this year the lead has widened significantly, mirroring what happened previously in the smart phone market. According to the market researchers at Canalys, shipments of iPads declined over 14 percent in the most recent quarter (compared year over year, of course), while over tablet growth jumped 43 percent. And some Android device makers saw amazing gains: Samsung jumped 295 percent, Amazon grew 266 percent, and Amazon surged forward 317 percent. One year ago, the iPad controlled 71 percent of the market, but in Q2 2013 it fell to 42.7 percent, and it’s going to keep falling thanks to overly-high prices for a product type that has quickly commoditized. The next and final milestone in this journey will be when the iPad falls out of first place among all tablet models. That should happen in late 2013 or early 2014, I bet.

But Wait, There's More

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and the Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows. And check out my free e-books, Paul Thurrott’s Windows Phone 8 and Paul Thurrott’s Xbox Music!