Windows 10 Hero

Build 2017: Windows 10 on 500 Million Monthly Active Devices; Still Outpacing Windows 7 Despite Slowdown

Welcome to Microsoft Build 2017. The Day One keynote focused on several new announcements for developers in the cloud, artificial intelligence, and data services, but of interest to Windows users across the globe will be one small tidbit of information that was revealed very early in Nadella's comments.

Last week, after their education-focused event, Microsoft's Yusuf Mehdi said there were 300 million users on Windows 10 for 3.5 hours per day. In a subsequent article, I wondered what that number would translate to on a monthly basis. Today, we found out that answer as we heard a new momentum number for the first time in more than seven months.

According to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, there are now 500 million monthly active devices running Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system. Just like with previous momentum number announcements, there is no break down between PC, Mobile, Xbox, IoT, HoloLens, Surface Hub, or any other Windows 10 based devices.

So just using the raw number provided, 500 million monthly active devices, I have updated my previous momentum tracking data to reflect this latest number.

Here are the official momentum numbers provided by Microsoft since the initial release of Windows 10 in July 2015:

-- 14 million upgrades in first 24 hours of availability (July 29, 2015)
-- 75 million devices in the first month of availability (August 26, 2015)
-- 110 million devices (October 6, 2015)
-- 200 million active devices (January 4, 2016)
-- 270 million active devices (March 30, 2016)
-- 300 million active devices (May 5, 2016)
-- 350 million active devices (June 29, 2016)
-- 400 Million active devices (September 26, 2016)
-- 500 Million monthly active devices (May 10, 2017)

By taking those numbers and counting the number of days between updated momentum data, I have figured the progress of Windows 10 adoption over the same period of time. 

Added to this list is now the adoption progress based on today's new data from Microsoft:

  • 26 August to October 6, 2015 (41 days)
    • 2.2 million installs per day to 854K installs per day
    • Decrease of 38% over the time period
  • October 6, 2015 to January 4, 2016 (90 days)
    • 854K installs per day to 1 million installs per day
    • Increase of 15% over the time period
  • January 4, 2016, to March 30, 2016 (86 days)
    • 1 million installs per day to 814K installs per day
    • Decrease of 19% over the time period
  • March 30, 2016, to May 5, 2016 (36 days)
    • 814K installs per day to 833K installs per day
    • Increase of 2.5% over the time period
  • May 5, 2016, to June 29, 2016 (55 days)
    • 833K installs per day to 909K installs per day
    • Increase of 9.4% over the time period
  • June 29, 2016, to September 26, 2016 (89 days)
    • 909K installs per day to 562K installs per day
    • Decrease of 38% over the time period
  • September 26, 2016 to May 10, 2017 (227 days)
    • 562K installs per day to 441K installs per day
    • Decrease of 22% over the time period

Some key takeaways from this new information:

This is the second set of momentum numbers that have been provided since the free Windows 10 upgrade program ended on July 29, 2016. It is also the first time that adoption decreased for two periods in a row, with both periods experiencing double digit decreases in adoption for a total decline of 60% from June 29, 2016 to May 10, 2017 (316 days). That is a decrease from 1,471,000 installs a day to 1,003,000.

It is hard to determine if the pace of decreased adoption has slowed at this point in time compared to how it was at the beginning of this 7 1/2 month period. Knowing where it is now will only come with updated numbers being released on a more timely basis.

Since these number are all after the Windows 10 free upgrade offer ended, that means the bulk of these 100 monthly active devices added in the last seven months can be mostly attributed to the purchase of new devices running Windows 10 by consumers or enterprise migrations to the OS. One million new active devices a day is still a great pace for any product's adoption - especially 21 months after its initial release.

Two years ago at Build 2015, Microsoft announced their goal to see Windows 10 on 1 billion devices within 2-3 years of its launch. Just over a year later the company admitted that it would take more time to reach that ambitious goal. With today's new momentum numbers, the company is only halfway to that 1 billion device goal after almost two years. If they only add roughly 100 million new active users every seven months then it will take them almost three more years to hit that 1 billion number. It is now looking like a good call last June to open-end that desired goal for Windows 10 devices/users.

It appears Microsoft is very happy with this rate of adoption, and this rate is still outpacing Windows 7. The reality many organizations and end users must face in less than three years is the end of extended support for Windows 7 in January 2020.

(By the way, do not expect Microsoft to grant clemency at the end of that support cycle for two extra two years like they did with Windows XP. It is just not going to happen and you can thank Windows as a Service (WaaS) for that.)

Everything the company is doing around WaaS and the new 18 month support cycle for each major feature update to Windows 10 shows the company does not want anyone on a version of Windows 10 that is more than 12 to 18 months old at any given time.

Windows 10, two major feature updates per year, monthly cumulative updates, and a continuous Windows Insider Program will keep pushing the envelope to encourage enterprise customers and consumers to pick up the pace for adopting new hardware running Windows 10 or migrating to the operating system.

With just 980 days left until end of support for Windows 7 (SP1) ends - the clock is ticking.


But, wait...there's probably more so be sure to follow me on Twitter and Google+.

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