Windows 10: Now on 148M PCs

But signs of a slowdown multiply as deceleration enters third straight month

Four months in, Windows 10 powers approximately 148 million PCs, according to measurements released today by analytics vendor Net Applications.

With that many machines running the new OS, Microsoft has reached the 15% mark in marching towards its goal of putting Windows 10 on a billion systems by mid-2018.

Windows 10's user share -- a proxy for the portion of all personal computers worldwide that ran the OS -- grew 1.1 percentage points in November to 9%.

Microsoft launched Windows 10 on July 29, or just over four months ago. The Redmond, Wash. company has been aggressively promoting the new operating system with a free upgrade for existing Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 devices, as well as marketing the OS as the brains inside new devices from its own design shop and from its traditional OEM (original equipment manufacturer) partners like Lenovo, Dell and Hewlett-Packard.

The slowing of Windows 10's uptake, as implied by smaller user share increases each month than the one before, continued in November. The month's user share growth was below both October's 1.3 percentage-point growth and September's 1.4-point climb, as well as August's record 4.8 points.

Windows 10 accounted for 9.9% of all Windows devices in November, a higher number than its raw user share number because Windows powered 91.4%, not 100%, of all systems tallied by Net Applications. During November, Windows 10's share of all Windows devices climbed by more than a point.

Net Applications' user share represented almost 148 million Windows 10 PCs, assuming a total of 1.5 billion Windows devices in use worldwide. Microsoft regularly cites the latter figure.

For its part, Microsoft has not updated an official claim of in-use Windows 10 systems in almost two months, when the company's top OS executive said 110 million machines, 8 million of which were in enterprises, ran the operating system. The lack of an update on the Windows 10 count is puzzling, as it is in Microsoft's interest to bang the promotional drum as often as possible. The firm may be waiting for a more substantial milestone -- say, 200 million -- or may not want to confirm that adoption has decelerated.

Another metrics source -- Ireland's StatCounter -- also showed that growth has slowed each of the past three months. StatCounter, which tracks global usage share -- a proxy for activity rather than users -- pegged Windows 10 at 10.2% for November, a 1.2 percentage point increase. That was smaller than the gains StatCounter recorded in October (1.4 points), September (2.3 points) and August (5 points) for Windows 10.

A dissenting voice, however, was the Digital Analytics Program (DAP), a U.S.-focused effort that counts visits to more than 4,000 websites on over 400 different domains maintained by U.S. government agencies, including the National Weather Service and the Social Security Administration.

Contrary to Net Applications' and StatCounter's contentions, DAP's data showed that Windows 10 uptake had accelerated in November in the United States. There, the month-over-month gain of 1.9 percentage points in November outweighed October's 1.7 points. According to DAP, Windows 10 powered 12.9% of all Windows devices last month, or about a third more than Net Applications' similar statistic.

Windows 10 continued to grow faster than Windows 7 did during its first four months after release, according to Net Applications. Windows 7 had accumulated a 9.7% share of all Windows personal computers through its fourth full month, slightly less than 10's 9.9% of November. While StatCounter's usage share statistics have shown the Windows 10's lead over 7 has evaporated, Net Applications' data had the former still ahead, though by a smaller margin than in months past.

With holiday sales still to get into high gear -- even though new PCs are expected to struggle again this season -- and Microsoft taking unprecedented steps to push Windows 10, including the controversial decision to automatically serve the Windows 10 upgrade to most consumer and small business Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 devices in early 2016, the new OS has a good chance of staying abreast, even ahead of Windows 7's pace.

Windows 10 growth continues to decelerate Data: Net Applications

Windows 10's user share growth has been impressive, but after the explosive launch of a free upgrade in late July, gains have shrunk each of the last three months. This chart shows Windows 10's usage share as a percentage of all PCs running Windows, and so its data is slightly different than the raw stats cited in much of the story.

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Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
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