Windows 10 is Now on 400 Million Devices

Posted on September 26, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 94 Comments

Windows 10 is Now on 400 Million Devices

It’s been three long months since Microsoft announced a new figure for Windows 10 usage. But the firm today said that there now over 400 million active Windows 10 devices around the world. So Windows 10 adoption has slowed dramatically since the free upgrade offer ended.

This is as expected. But I think the new number provides an interesting peek at the uptick rate we can expected going forward.

So let’s review the math.

Microsoft last provided a Windows 10 usage milestone on June 29, when it said that there were 350 million active Windows 10 devices. At that time, I noted that the Windows 10 adoption had accelerated from the previous milestone, hitting an average of almost 29 million new devices per month.

But 50 million additional devices over three months is a much slower pace of about 17 million per month. This is the slowest rate since Windows 10 was first announced.

Again, no surprise there: Windows 10 was free for its first year, and over that time period it averaged roughly 31.25 million new devices per month (if you assume a figure of 375 million after one year, as I do).

Does this mean that Windows 10 will see fewer than 20 million new devices each month, on average, going forward? No, of course not. There’s no way to accurately gauge how things will go, given that most future devices will be new PCs purchased by businesses or consumers, or business PCs upgraded to Windows 10. Those systems will be added to the list according to seasonal variances and business deployment schedules.

That said, I’ve often discussed how Microsoft artificially reported Windows 7 license sales during that product’s lifetime, evening out the numbers so that it appeared that 20 million new licenses were sold each month. So while Microsoft no longer uses that kind of accounting, it’s still an interesting number for comparison.

So it’s less, sure. But 17 million new Windows 10 devices per month is a real world number, whereas licenses sold is more nebulous: Many of those licenses were never actually used, or were used to install other versions of Windows. (Some today are likely running Windows 10, too.) So while 17 million is technically less than 20, it’s not really less. This is a solid number.

If that 17 million number holds steady—which, it won’t month to month, though I wonder about long-term—how long will it take Windows 10 to hit the one billion milestone?

35 and a half months, or about three years.

That means that Windows 10 will hit the 1 billion milestone in roughly four years, which is about 25 percent longer than the 2-3 years that Microsoft originally expected. And to be clear, Microsoft does still expect to hit the 1 billion number: I was told last night that they had simply “shifted the time frame a bit.”

My expectation is that Windows 10 adoption will actually accelerate to about 20 million per month on average, as more and more businesses come online with the new system. But even at 17 million, Microsoft is in a good place.

Disclaimer. If you’re really paying attention to the math, you will have noticed that I expected to see 375 million active Windows 10 devices by the end of July 29; that would mean that about 25 million new devices came online in July alone. If true, the average for August and September is thus only 12.5 million per month. I’ll just say that this is a guessing game, and that the truth is in there somewhere. And heck, what’s a few million between friends?


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