Microsoft Won’t Meet Deadline For 1 Billion Windows 10 Devices

July 15, 2016, 5:52 PM UTC
Microsoft Corp. Launches Windows 10 In Japan
A visitor tries out Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 10 operating system on a tablet device during a launch event in Tokyo, Japan, on Wednesday, July 29, 2015. The release of Microsoft's new Windows 10 operating system -- an event that in years past sparked a surge of computer buying -- will do little to ease the four-year sales slump that's been dogging the PC industry. Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photograph by Kiyoshi Ota — Bloomberg via Getty Images


Whoops. Microsoft is now conceding that Windows 10 is unlikely to meet a goal of running on 1 billion devices by 2018.

Flashing back to May, 2015, Terry Myerson, the executive vice president in charge of operating systems, said he expected Windows 10 to hit the magic 1 billion device mark within “two or three years.” Now, Microsoft (MSFT) is backing off that projection, according to a statement first obtained by ZDnet.

The statement, which still touts Windows 10’s “hottest start in history” —it debuted in July 2015—then sounds a cautionary note:

… 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.

Two months ago, Microsoft said 300 million Windows 10 devices including phones and tablets. The 1 billion number assumed that the operating system, which is supposed to give a uniform experience across mobile and desktop devices, would do much better than Microsoft’s previous attempts to wrest share in a market where Apple (AAPL) iPhones and Android devices have sucked the air out of the room.

For more on Windows 10, watch:

“What happened is Microsoft couldn’t get Windows 10 going on mobile, but it was an extremely ambitious goal to say ‘we’ll break in where iOS and Android seem to be completely dominant,” said Frank Gillett, industry analyst with Forrester Research (FORR).

He also argued that this “aspirational” 1 billion number was also sort of silly from the get go.

“Counting how many devices run your operating system is archaic. What matters more and what they would talk about is how many people have Microsoft accounts,” Gillett said.

Microsoft ‘Sneaky’ Windows 10 Update Raises a Ruckus

“In 2016 it would be interesting to see to see how many people have Microsoft accounts via Xbox, Skype, Windows 8 log-ins, Office 365, Yammer. Maybe soon a LinkedIn (LNKD) identity also might count as a Microsoft account in a meaningful way,” he noted.

If Microsoft could show that hundreds million of people store their credit card information with Microsoft as they do with Apple (AAPL) iTunes and Amazon (AMZN), that would be a more meaningful number, because it would show that 1): They trust Microsoft with their personal information and 2): They have an ongoing relationship with Microsoft above and beyond any corporate one.

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It’s true that Microsoft Windows 10 struggles in the mobile market, but to be fair Microsoft’s other products appear to be doing pretty well there. If you’re running Microsoft e-mail or Office applications at work, you may well be running them on your iPhone as well.