The company’s initial plan back in 2015 when the operating system was released was to push Windows 10 on 1 billion devices by 2018. Microsoft revised the goal last year to “longer than 2018” when it became clear that it would not be able to reach the goal.
The 500 million figure that Microsoft revealed during the keynote speech of the Build 2017 conference means that the company reached half that goal.
Lets take a closer look at the number. First, lets put the number in perspective. Microsoft did not reveal lots of figures in the past, but it did mention some.
In September 2016, Microsoft noted that Windows 10 was installed on 400 million devices, up from 300 million in May 2016, and just a couple of days ago, Microsoft revealed that Windows 10 was used by 300 million users daily for 3.5 hours or more.
- May 2016 — 300 million active devices.
- September 2016 — 400 million active devices.
- May 2017 — 500 million active devices.
The increase from 400 million to 500 million is 100 million, or about 12 million per month. This is far from the pace that Microsoft might have hoped for, but it is not too bad either on first glance.
While we don’t have progress charts by month, the big jump between May and September 2016 can probably be explained by coinciding with the end of the free upgrade period. While upgrades to Windows 10 are still free, Microsoft stopped its efforts back then to push Windows 10 on devices running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.
Growth has slowed down if you look at the figures, and it is unclear if Microsoft counts all devices running Windows 10, or only PCs when it comes to active devices.
If Microsoft keeps the pace of the past eight months, which is about 12 million new devices running Windows 10 per month, it would take about 42 months or 3 years and 6 months to reach the 1 billion milestone goal set in 2015. Instead of hitting that goal in 2018, Microsoft might hit it in October 2020 instead.
A quick look at the market share reports provided by NetMarketShare paints a similar picture. Windows 10 rose from a percentage of 19.14% in June 2016 to 26.28% in April 2017. Windows 7, a version of Windows released back in 2009, dropped by only 0.55% in that time.
The bulk of Windows 7 users don’t upgrade to a new version of Windows, regardless of whether it is Windows 8.1 or Windows 10.
The situation may change once the operating system hits end of extended support in 2020. Microsoft could create another campaign that runs on Windows 7 to get users to upgrade to Windows 10. Considering the end of support, more users may be tempted to take Microsoft up on the offer at that time. All of this is pure speculation however at this point in time.
GÃ¼nther Born over on Borncity points out (in German) that Microsoft has another looming problem that it needs to address: fragmentation of the Windows 10 user base.
He cites figures from AdDuplex: Only 9.8% of devices run the Windows 10 Creators Update, 82.1% the Anniversary Update, 6% the November update, and 1.8% the RTM version (which support ended for on May 9, 2017).
If that reminds you of the fragmentation on Android, you are probably not completely wrong about that. PC users have the advantage that updates are available for their devices, something that is often blocked on Android by manufacturers who often support devices for a short period of time only.
It seems likely that fragmentation will only increase as Microsoft continues to push out two new feature updates per year. Microsoft has yet to address the issue publicly.
Now you: 500 million active Windows 10 devices, what’s your take on that?