Windows 10: 500 million machines and counting

Martin Brinkmann
May 11, 2017
Updated • May 22, 2018
Windows, Windows 10

Microsoft Corporation revealed today that the company's operating system Windows 10 is running on 500 million computer systems.

The company's initial plan back in 2015 when the operating system was released was to push Windows 10 on 1 billion devices by 2018. Microsoft revised the goal last year to "longer than 2018" when it became clear that it would not be able to reach the goal.

The 500 million figure that Microsoft revealed during the keynote speech of the Build 2017 conference means that the company reached half that goal.

Lets take a closer look at the number. First, lets put the number in perspective. Microsoft did not reveal lots of figures in the past, but it did mention some.

windows 10 500 million devices

In September 2016, Microsoft noted that Windows 10 was installed on 400 million devices, up from 300 million in May 2016, and just a couple of days ago, Microsoft revealed that Windows 10 was used by 300 million users daily for 3.5 hours or more.

  1. May 2016 -- 300 million active devices.
  2. September 2016 -- 400 million active devices.
  3. May 2017 -- 500 million active devices.

The increase from 400 million to 500 million is 100 million, or about 12 million per month. This is far from the pace that Microsoft might have hoped for, but it is not too bad either on first glance.

While we don't have progress charts by month, the big jump between May and September 2016 can probably be explained by coinciding with the end of the free upgrade period. While upgrades to Windows 10 are still free, Microsoft stopped its efforts back then to push Windows 10 on devices running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.

Growth has slowed down if you look at the figures, and it is unclear if Microsoft counts all devices running Windows 10, or only PCs when it comes to active devices.

If Microsoft keeps the pace of the past eight months, which is about 12 million new devices running Windows 10 per month, it would take about 42 months or 3 years and 6 months to reach the 1 billion milestone goal set in 2015. Instead of hitting that goal in 2018, Microsoft might hit it in October 2020 instead.

A quick look at the market share reports provided by NetMarketShare paints a similar picture. Windows 10 rose from a percentage of 19.14% in June 2016 to 26.28% in April 2017. Windows 7, a version of Windows released back in 2009, dropped by only 0.55% in that time.

The bulk of Windows 7 users don't upgrade to a new version of Windows, regardless of whether it is Windows 8.1 or Windows 10.

The situation may change once the operating system hits end of extended support in 2020. Microsoft could create another campaign that runs on Windows 7 to get users to upgrade to Windows 10. Considering the end of support, more users may be tempted to take Microsoft up on the offer at that time. All of this is pure speculation however at this point in time.

Günther Born over on Borncity points out (in German) that Microsoft has another looming problem that it needs to address: fragmentation of the Windows 10 user base.

He cites figures from AdDuplex: Only 9.8% of devices run the Windows 10 Creators Update, 82.1% the Anniversary Update, 6% the November update, and 1.8% the RTM version (which support ended for on May 9, 2017).

If that reminds you of the fragmentation on Android, you are probably not completely wrong about that. PC users have the advantage that updates are available for their devices, something that is often blocked on Android by manufacturers who often support devices for a short period of time only.

It seems likely that fragmentation will only increase as Microsoft continues to push out two new feature updates per year. Microsoft has yet to address the issue publicly.

Now you: 500 million active Windows 10 devices, what's your take on that?

Windows 10: 500 million machines and counting
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Windows 10: 500 million machines and counting
Microsoft Corporation announced today that the company's operating system Windows 10 is running on 500 million computer systems.
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  1. Dan Donx said on January 15, 2023 at 10:29 am

    What mental age of reader are you targeting with the first sentence? 10?

    Why not write an article on how to *avoid* upgrading from W10 to W11. Analogous to those like me who avoided upgrading from 7 to 10 for as long as possible.

    If your paymaster Microsoft permits it, of course.

  2. Dexter said on January 15, 2023 at 11:14 am

    5. Rufus
    6. Ventoy

    PS. I hate reading these “SEO optimized” articles.

    1. cdr said on January 15, 2023 at 3:32 pm

      I used Rufus to create an installer for a 6th gen intel i5 that had MBR. It upgraded using Setup. No issues except for Win 11 always prompting me to replace my local account. Still using Win 10 Pro on all my other PCs to avoid the bullying.

  3. sv said on January 15, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    bit pointless to upgrade for the sake of upgrading as you never know when you’ll get locked out because ms might suddenly not provide updates to unsupported systems.

    ps…. time travelling?
    written. Jan 15, 2023
    Updated • Jan 13, 2023

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 16, 2023 at 5:49 am

      This happens when you schedule a post in WordPress and update it before setting the publication date.

  4. Anonymous said on January 16, 2023 at 8:24 am

    Anyone willing to downgrade to this awful OS must like inflicting themselves with harm.

  5. basingstoke said on January 16, 2023 at 11:18 am

    I have become convinced now that anybody who has no qualms with using Windows 11/10 must fit into one of the following brackets:

    1) Too young to remember a time before W10 and W11 (doesn’t know better)

    2) Wants to play the latest games on their PC above anything else (or deeply needs some software which already dropped W7 support)

    3) Doesn’t know too much about how computers work, worried that they’d be absolutely lost and in trouble without the “”latest security””

    4) Microsoft apologist that tries to justify that the latest “features” and “changes” are actually a good thing, that improve Windows

    5) Uses their computer to do a bare minimum of like 3 different things, browse web, check emails, etc, so really doesn’t fuss

    Obviously that doesn’t cover everyone, there’s also the category that:

    6) Actually liked W7 more than 10, and held out as long as possible before switching, begrudgingly uses 10 now

    Have I missed any group off this list?

    1. Heinz Strunk said on September 19, 2023 at 3:57 pm

      You have missed in this group just about any professional user that uses business software like CAD programs or ERP Programs which are 99% of all professional users from this list.

      Linux doesn’t help anyone who is not a linux kid and apple is just a fancy facebook machine.

  6. ilev said on August 24, 2023 at 7:34 pm

    Microsoft has removed KB5029351 update

    1. EP said on August 24, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      only from windows update though
      KB5029351 is still available from the ms update catalog site

  7. Anonymous said on August 24, 2023 at 11:05 pm

    1. This update is labaled as PREVIEW if it causes issues to unintelligent people, then they shouldn’t have allowed Preview updates ot install.

    2. I have installed it in a 11 years old computer, and no problems at all.

    3. Making a big drama over a bluescreen for an updated labeled as preview is ridiculous.

    This is probably another BS internet drama where people ran programs and scripts that modified the registry until they broke Windows, just for removing stuff that they weren’t even using just for the sake of it.
    Maybe people should stop playing geeks and actually either use Windows 10 or Windows 11, but don’t try to modify things just for the sake of it.

    Sometimes removing or stopping things (like defender is a perfect example) only need intelligence, not scripts or 3rd party programs that might mess with windows.

  8. john said on August 24, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    Windows 11 was a pointless release, it was just created because some of the Windows team wanted to boost sales with some sort of new and improved Windows 10. Instead, Microsoft cannot support one version well let alone two.

    1. John G. said on August 25, 2023 at 12:08 pm

      Windows 11 is the worst ugly shame by Microsoft ever. They should release with every new W11 version a complete free version of Starallback inside just to make this sh** OS functionally again.

  9. EP said on August 25, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released a statement regarding the “unsupported processor” blue screen error for their boards using Intel 600/700 series chipsets & to avoid the KB5029351 Win11 update:–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–Error-Message-of-Windows-11-Update-KB5029351-Preview-142215

  10. EP said on August 29, 2023 at 7:32 pm

    check out the following recent articles:

    Neowin – Microsoft puts little blame on its Windows update after UNSUPPORTED PROCESSOR BSOD bug:

    BleepingComputer – Microsoft blames ‘unsupported processor’ blue screens on OEM vendors:

  11. Leonard Britvolli said on August 30, 2023 at 10:33 pm

    While there may be changes or updates to the Windows 10 Store for Business and Education in the future, it is premature to conclude that it will be discontinued based solely on rumors.

  12. sembrador said on September 5, 2023 at 9:32 pm

    My advice, I left win 15 years ago. Now I’m a happy linux user (linuxmint) but there is Centos, Fedora, Ubuntu depending on your needs.

  13. EP said on September 6, 2023 at 11:55 am

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released new BIOS/firmware updates for their Intel 600 & 700 series motherboards to fix the “UNSUPPORTED_PROCESSOR” problem (Sept. 6):–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–caused-BSOD-on-MSI-s-Intel-700-and-600-Series-Motherboards-142277

  14. Raphael Benzo said on September 24, 2023 at 9:52 pm

    I try to disable the Diagnostics Tracking Service (Connected Devices Platform User Services) but it wont let me disable it, any help will be greatly appreciated.
    Tank you for your help

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