Microsoft has announced that Windows 10 is now used by 500 million devices every month, up from 300 million devices at this point last year. That’s an impressive growth rate year-on-year. And while Microsoft will never hit its original goal of one billion installations within three years (the collapse of Windows Mobile made that impossible), the company has kept a robust deployment rate, even after the official end of the free upgrade period.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made the announcement at Microsoft’s Build conference, which applies to devices as opposed to individual users. Exact data on which users have converted to Windows 10 is impossible to come by, but there’s some reason to think this latest push might have been more business-oriented. We can, for example, check the Steam Hardware Survey figures for OS installations a year ago, versus at the present day. As of a year ago, 38.18 percent of Steam users were running Windows 10. Today, 50.08 percent of Windows users are using Windows 10. That’s significant growth, to be sure, but not nearly enough to account for the sizable increase Microsoft is claiming.
According to Nadella, Microsoft also has 140 million people using Cortana every month, more than 100 million people using Office 365, and more than 90 percent of the Fortune 500 use Microsoft’s cloud services. Microsoft is said to be pushing hard for enterprise adoption, which would explain where the boost is coming from — the Steam hardware survey results imply that gamers were actually early adopters and moved to the OS (likely for DX12 benefits) before the mass market.
The long-term adoption trend
Microsoft’s long-term adoption figures are likely to strengthen, since it’s taken steps to prevent users from installing Windows 7 and 8.1 on any OS other than Windows 10. While enterprising users will always find ways to bypass these restrictions, functionally, MS is making certain that if you upgrade your CPU and motherboard to anything released in the last six months, you’ll wind up using Windows 10 whether you like it or not.
And, of course, Microsoft’s free upgrade offer from Windows 10 has never ended, not in any meaningful sense. While the company doesn’t exactly advertise it anymore, you can still download and upgrade any legitimate Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 installation to Windows 10.
One other interesting tidbit from the new-versus-old Steam Hardware Surveys is the specific operating systems that have lost market share. Windows 10 has improved from 38 percent to 50 percent, but just 1.76 percentage points of that share has come from Windows 7 64-bit slippage. Windows 8.1’s market share fell 4.48 percentage points in the same period and the 32-bit version of Windows 7 dropped 2.45 percentage points. Other, smaller differences appear to pad out the rest.
This suggests that at least in the consumer market, Microsoft has a long-term Windows 7 problem. End-users are proving resistant to moving away from it, which also suggests why the company put a poison pill in its Windows 7 and 8.1 updates. Microsoft doesn’t want users on Windows 7 or 8.1 anymore, and if you upgrade your CPU, it’ll force you to move to Windows 10 as a result.
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