2016 was an interesting year for Microsoft and its Windows 10 operating system. The company ended the free for all buffet in the first half of 2016, but not before pushing the free offer way to aggressively to the PCs of its customers.
The second half saw the release of the Anniversary Update for the operating system which added much needed functionality to it.
Things did not go as well from a usage point of view, at least not according to third-party tracking companies like NetMarketShare.
The company saw Windows 10 climb from about 12% in January 2016 to about 24% in December 2016. The stats don't look nearly as bad if you look at the full year, but if you split the observation mid-year, you may come to a different conclusion.
Windows 10's usage share jumped from 12% to 21% in the first six months of the year, and only from 21% to 24% in the second half.
Much of this can be attributed to the end of the free offer -- even though that has not really ended as I have shown recently. Even more troubling: both Windows 7 and Windows XP are doing considerably well. Windows 7 lost only about 4% of usage share in all of 2016, while Windows XP, an operating system that is not supported anymore, only 2%.
Note: Microsoft's own Windows 10 stats paint a different picture.
The outlook for Windows 10, at least from a usage share perspective is not that positive. If you take into account the slow growth of the operating system and reluctance of users to upgrade to it now that the free ride is over, it seems likely that this trend will continue.
If you assume a growth of 0.50% per month, Windows 10 would end up at about 30% of the market at the end of 2017. A optimistic growth target of 1% per month would push it closer to 36%, but I cannot see that happening on its own.
The end of support for Windows Vista won't change that, considering that the operating system is not even listed anymore by most services.
Microsoft could revitalize the "get windows 10" campaign to push the target upwards, but it will certainly alienate even more customers in the process.
Microsoft plans to release two feature upgrades for Windows 10 this year. We know only about the first, the Creators Update. Microsoft confirmed already that it will push new ways of "creating things" to Windows 10. The company did highlight that by showcasing the new Paint 3D application which allows you to create 3D objects.
I don't expect the update to push Windows 10's usage share a lot, considering that the Anniversary Update did not do that either.
The second update will be released in the second half of 2017, most likely around September/October.
Microsoft may release the rumored Surface Phone in 2017, now that it more or less ended all sales for Nokia devices.
That phone won't make much of a dent however unless that phone brings something to the table that others don't, or is heavily subsidized. Considering Microsoft's "phone" strategy in the past decade, it is fair to say that customers are wary when it comes to new phone devices by the company.
Windows 10's growth will continue, there is no doubt about that. Unless something major happens however, it will not accelerate in 2017.
Now You: What's your prognosis for Windows 10 in 2017?
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