About the same time last year, Microsoft made a bold proclamation: the adoption rate for its new OS, Windows 10, would be so high that by mid-2018, 1 billion devices would be running it. Fast forward to Friday, July 15 — roughly a year before that deadline — and the tech firm has admitted that those estimates were too ambitious.
"We're pleased with our progress to date, but due to the focusing of our phone hardware business, it will take longer" to reach the goal, Microsoft Corporate Vice President Yusuf Mehdi said in a statement. "In the year ahead, we are excited about usage growth coming from commercial deployments and new devices."
For Microsoft, who counts 350 million devices running Windows 10 as of June, the missed goal is a tough break. Since making that promise in 2015, the company has been banking on that statement to try and draw third-party developers into building apps for Windows 10.
So what's to blame for the delay? As Yusef stated, a major component of this has been the struggles with its phone business.
Once upon a time, Microsoft had huge plans for its phone business. Just like how PCs rival Macs, Microsoft hoped to dive into the smartphone business and rival Apple's iPhone. In fact, Microsoft was so confident that its phone business would be a success, that the aforementioned 1 billion goal was predicated on a significant number of Windows 10-powered smartphones to add to the personal computers that will be upgraded or replaced. Unfortunately for the tech giant, things didn't go as planned and Windows smartphones failed to capture a notable portion of the audience. As such, Microsoft's phones went corporate all-out two months ago, and even then, that move only came after the company has lost billions.
Additionally, Gartner analyst Steve Kleynhans blamed the deficit partly on a shrinking consumer PC market. In his explanation, he referenced to a number of issues, such as currency exchange rates that are driving down sales, as well as Britain's recent vote to exit the EU.
Interestingly, unlike Microsoft, he wasn't expecting much from Windows smartphones from the get-go.
"Our expectations [for Windows Phones] have always been somewhat muted," he said. "So from our point of view, we weren't expecting phones to contribute much to that billion, but maybe [Microsoft was] expecting more."
On the other hand, while this might be rough news for Microsoft, it must no doubt be a happy occasion for Windows users who have been subjected to a myriad of misfortunes ever since the new OS arrived. A simple Google search is all it takes to find tons of complaints about forced installations, and other horror stories like this and many others like it.