Windows 10 Has Over One Billion Users

Posted on March 16, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 12 Comments

It took about twice as long as originally promised, but Windows 10 is finally in active use by over one billion users on over one billion devices. The vast majority of which, of course, are traditional PCs.

“We’re delighted to announce that over one billion people have chosen Windows 10 across 200 countries resulting in more than one billion active Windows 10 devices,” Microsoft corporate vice president Yusuf Mehdi writes in the announcement. “We couldn’t be more grateful to our customers, partners, and employees for helping us get here.”

One billion is a big number—as Microsoft notes, that’s one out of every seven people on the planet—but the bigger news here, perhaps, is that the company is for the first time literally describing users and not just devices/PCs. In all of its previous usage milestone announcements, Microsoft only talked up how many active devices on which Windows 10 was installed. (The most recent figures were 600 million in November 2017, 800 million in March 2019, and then 900 million in late September 2019.)

The one billion figure is also important because previous Windows chief Terry Myerson had promised in January 2015 that Windows 10 would be in active use on that many devices “within two or three years.” But in July 2016, one year after the initial release of Windows 10, Microsoft admitted through an overly-friendly blogger that it would not reach one billion active devices in the promised time frame. I had previously predicted that it would never meet that goal. And when Myerson was later found to have been inflating the Windows 10 usage numbers by counting virtual machine (VM) installs, he was asked to step down in March 2018.

Microsoft also claims in its announcement post that there are now 17.5 million Windows Insiders worldwide, and that their “feedback shapes the development process” of Windows 10. While I’ve been told that only about one million Insiders are actually active in the program, the more pertinent number is that 100 percent of the Fortune 500 is now using Windows 10. This speaks to Windows 10’s real most important constituency, and to the “digital transformation” Microsoft is trying to drive in the enterprise.

“Reaching a billion people with Windows 10 is just the beginning,” Mehdi claims. “We will invest in Windows not only within Windows 10 for PCs but also across many other Windows editions, serving diverse customer needs including Windows IoT, Windows 10 Teams edition for Surface Hub, Windows Server, Windows Mixed Reality on HoloLens, Windows 10 in S mode, Windows 10X and more.”

Windows 10 is in good company: By comparison, Apple said in early 2019 that it had over 900 million iPhone users and 1.4 billion users overall, while Google said last May that there were over 2.5 billion Android users.

Join the discussion!


Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Comments (12)

12 responses to “Windows 10 Has Over One Billion Users”

  1. sherlockholmes

    Congrats. My guess is it could have happend sooner when Microsoft hasnt made some bad decisions.

    • longhorn

      In reply to SherlockHolmes:

      Windows 8/8.1 stopped Windows 7 from reaching 1 billion, because all new PCs came with that newer OS after release in late 2012. Then Windows 10 was released. Windows 10 has been allowed to grow uninterrupted by newer versions.

      The bigger question is where are the other 500 million Windows users?

  2. ghostrider

    17.5 million insiders, and MS still doesn't listen. 17.5 million insiders, and most spend 10 minutes installing the 'latest builds' to a VM before ticking a box - hardly real world testing, but then the vast majority of those insiders are trained testers anyway, and certainly have no incentive to properly test as they don't get paid.

    1B active users certainly doesn't mean 1B happy users either, but then MS don't listen to the problems, and the last two years of Win10 releases/patches have just been dire - I mean real, real bad. To the point infact, you can get the sense that many have almost had enough.

    If MS had just done the right thing - listened to what people actually wanted, made efforts not to treat paying users like beta testers, fixed the inherently broken Windows Update, stopped with this 'as a service' delivery and did full, internal regression testing again to release stable products then who knows, maybe Win10 would be worth the effort. As it stands, it's not in a good place right now, and the reason 1B has finally been reached is mainly Enterprises who had no choice but to replace Win7 machines in the last 12 months - which most would have kept if they could.

    • red77star

      In reply to ghostrider:

      They just introduced WinUI 3.0 which is a third iteration of something which failed numerous times. This is a bridge between Windows 10 and Windows 10x or vision of future Windows based on 10x where Win32 becomes legacy thing running in container. I can tell to Microsoft right now that is not going to work. PC is just not some dumb phone device, it is much more than that. They need to let go of this need to have cross platform apps, or things like Linux subsystem for Windows. I mean seriously, what's their end goal here? All we need is for Windows to be Windows, trusty old NT with awesome C/C++ apps written on top of it, outside .NET world. .NET has been such a burden for Windows in general, ever since it was introduced. All these half of billion users sitting on Windows 7 have no plan to upgrade to Windows 10. You can count me on. And those who tried and reverted back like myself will go for an alternative platform. And really Linux and Mac OS are the best desktop alternatives to Windows 10. Some people might find out that Android and iOS is good enough for what they do, they might ditch desktop PC all together.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to red77star:

        where Win32 becomes legacy thing running in container

        I'll believe the Win32 container is real when there's a truly full-featured version of MS Office (including scripting, and Excel with full PowerQuery and being able to run PowerBI) which doesn't need to run in the container. Until that happens, even for MSFT itself, most (as in well over 90%) of revenues from commercial Windows software would come from Win32 software, not any new alternative. Thinking like an enterprise IT buyer, show me what my company wants to run which would run better/faster/more securely in a Win32 container than in current Windows 10.

  3. JH_Radio

    Using W Windows 7 and 8.1 thru January 2023 is where those other 500000 people may be.

  4. christian.hvid

    Are you saying that Myerson was shown the door for putting too positive a spin on the numbers? That would be strange indeed, as this is kind of baked into the job description of any executive.

  5. red77star

    I think Microsoft will lose the remaining Windows 7 users to Linux, Mac OS, iOS, and Android.

    • Stooks

      In reply to red77star:

      Only if they do not need to run Windows apps then possibly.

      Apple is pricing Mac's beyond what most people want to spend. I know more than a few Mac users that have reluctantly moved back to Windows PC's because they do not want to spend that kind of money on a Mac, a device they use less now because of other options like smartphones and tablets. Also with lots of software running in the cloud the "computer" just becomes a bigger faster web browser that is easier to type on and why waste that kind of money.

    • codymesh

      In reply to red77star:

      yes, Windows 7 holdouts were totally using cross-platform software.

  6. oasis

    Two of my machines have joined the 1B, the other one is on 8.1 and will stay there, W10(1909) is OK and since it was an upgrade from 7 and didn't cost anything it is OK. Could have went to Linux, but didn't.

Leave a Reply