Thursday, May 5, 2016

Windows 10 now on 300M systems; Microsoft says free upgrade ends soon

Windows 10 is now on more than 300 million active devices, according to numbers released today by Microsoft. It continues to be the most rapidly adopted version of Windows ever. At the end of March, Microsoft said that the operating system had hit 270 million active users.

The Windows 10 release is, of course, unlike any past version of Windows in two important ways. First, the operating system was released as a free upgrade for many users of Windows 7 and Windows 8. Second, the operating system is offered as a regularly updated "service"; rather than waiting years for a new version of Windows before new features can be added, Microsoft is adding new capabilities in periodic updates. The next of these, the Anniversary Update, is due this summer and will add richer pen/stylus support, the ability to run some Linux programs natively, and extensions to the Edge browser.

Microsoft's original stated goal was to have 1 billion Windows 10 users within the first two to three years. At the current rate of adoption, this seems plausible, though sustaining the current uptake rate over three years will be a challenge. Making this harder is the imminent demise of the free upgrade program. After July 29, upgrading from Windows 7 or 8 to Windows 10 will cost $119.

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