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Microsoft admits it’ll miss 1 billion Windows 10 user target on time, blames mobile implosion

Last year, Microsoft confidently announced that it would hit one billion active users on Windows 10 by mid-2018, thanks to expected strong conversions for desktops and laptops, new device sales, and the (supposed) increase that Windows 10 Mobile would deliver to the company’s mobile business. Desktop and laptop conversions have been fairly brisk with the company reporting over 350 million users over the past 11 months.

Unfortunately, Microsoft’s executives were counting on the Windows Mobile business to achieve that initial one billion target by mid-2018, and it’s now clear that’s not going to happen. Windows 10 Mobile is nearly dead — while the OS has its clear fans and adopters, it’s seen virtually no traction from other companies and Microsoft shut down almost all of the Nokia personnel and assets that it bought from the Finnish company several years ago.


Over at ZDNet, Mary Jo Foley reports that while Microsoft may still bring a Surface Phone to market, it’s almost certainly going to be a business-focused device to highlight Continuum and Microsoft’s other innovations in merging the PC and phone. If it can do that well, Continuum could become a major enterprise feature, in much the same way that great email once defined BlackBerry. That company’s later decline illustrated exactly how relying on a handful of killer features can kill your company as the market evolves and adapts to new technologies.

The full statement from Yusuf Mehdi is as follows:

Windows 10 is off to the hottest start in history with over 350 million monthly active devices, with record customer satisfaction and engagement. We’re pleased with our progress to date, but due to the focusing of our phone hardware business, it will take longer than FY18 for us to reach our goal of 1 billion monthly active devices. In the year ahead, we are excited about usage growth coming from commercial deployments and new devices – and increasing customer delight with Windows.

Overall, Microsoft’s experiment with rolling out Windows 10 to a huge number of devices for free has been a success. The question is whether or not that success was worth the cost to either the larger PC market, which experienced no OS-launch bump and is now in worse shape than ever, or to the goodwill Microsoft created with its customers and trampled on thereafter by aggressively pushing Windows 10 upgrades. When the company set an ambitius goal to reach a billion devices by 2018, some of these pushes made at least marginal sense. Now that it’s acknowledged it’s not going to make them, one has to wonder: What was the point of all the shoving?

Gamers, at least, have shifted to Windows 10 in significant numbers. That OS is now the most frequent appearance on Steam’s Hardware Survey, at 42.94% of the market. Windows 7 64-bit is next, at 30.61%, with Windows 8.1 64-bit at 10.07%.

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