Microsoft has made a curious claim about Microsoft Edge usage this week. Allow me to introduce the cold reality of math.
“I’m really thrilled to announce today that, earlier this month, Microsoft Edge passed over 330 million active devices worldwide,” a Microsoft executive said during an Edge Summit webinar yesterday. “This number has more than doubled since the Edge summit last year.”
The official Microsoft Edge Dev account on Twitter reiterated the claim:
“Microsoft Edge users are active on 330 million monthly devices.
There’s just one problem. It can’t be true. Not if by “active devices” you mean “people using Edge on a PC to browse the web.”
With Microsoft continuing to use its months-old 500 million figure for active Windows 10 devices, this 330 million figure suggests that over two-thirds of all Windows 10 users are somehow “actively” using Microsoft Edge.
There is just no way. But it’s not just my impression or opinion. The reason I know it’s not true is that it’s not even remotely possible that this many people are using Microsoft Edge.
Let’s do some math.
For starters, we’ll assume that there are still 1.5 billion people using PCs worldwide. I believe the figure is lower than that—much lower, like closer to 1.0 billion—but whatever. The last time Microsoft provided a figure, it was 1.5 billion. The higher number helps Microsoft’s case here.
If there are 1.5 billion people using PCs worldwide, then that means that more 1/5th of them are using Microsoft Edge. And yet. If we look at any web analytics firm’s data you care to mention, you never see Microsoft Edge with 20 percent usage share. Never.
Again, it’s not even close.
Stat Counter—which I don’t personally trust, but again, we’re giving Microsoft the benefit of the doubt here—claims that Microsoft Edge commands just 3.95 percent of web browser usage on the desktop. So if there really are 1.5 billion desktop users, then Edge accounts for only 59.25 million of them.
Not even close.
Netmarketshare—which I (and, by the way, Microsoft) trust—says that Edge now accounts for 5.66 percent of all desktop web browsing. So if there really are 1.5 billion desktop users, then Edge accounts for only 84.9 million of them.
Not even close.
Too, let’s look at Microsoft’s claim that it more than doubled Edge usage since 2016. Both StatCounter and Netmarketshare show the same basic trend: Edge usage has barely changed in one year. It went from 3.01 percent in October 2016 to 3.95 percent today, according to StatCounter. And from 5.26 percent to 5.66 percent over the same time period, according to Netmarketshare.
Not even close.
See how this works? There is no way that everyone’s math is right. And even if you believe the higher of the numbers from these two most credible of web analytics firms, Edge is nowhere near 330 million active users.
All I can conclude is that the software giant is stretching the bounds of what “active” means. Possibly to include just one usage: Microsoft Edge auto-runs whenever you first install Windows 10 or upgrade to a new version of Windows 10. And then they use it to install Google Chrome. Statistically speaking, that is.
Google Chrome, by the way, controls between 54.99 and 63.58 percent of web browser usage. You know, depending on whom you believe.
Less cynically, one other thought does occur: Microsoft also uses Edge as the default PDF reader in Windows 10. I’m willing to allow, since we have no data for this, that this functionality could (generously) lead to up to double the usage. But even then, we’re looking at 170 million “users” at most, about half Microsoft’s figure. Do people really read PDFs that much?
I doubt it, but it doesn’t matter. Not really. Because there is one key takeaway here:
There is no way that 330 million people are actively using Microsoft Edge, not as a web browser.
Tagged with Microsoft Edge