Windows 10 growth rate slows in October

Gamers are on board; enterprises not so much

Windows 10 growth rate market share total users Microsoft
Credit: Mark Hachman

As the months pass and Windows 10 spends more time on the market, patterns are starting to emerge, and the initial huge growth has suddenly leveled off.

At the end of August, Microsoft claimed that Windows 10 was on 75 million devices. At this week's Surface event, Microsoft Windows chief Terry Myerson said that the Windows 10 is now on over 110 million devices.

Windows 10 was ready for download on July 29, so in its first month out of the gate, it claimed 75 million devices. Five weeks later, it was up by 35 million. That would indicate quite a slowdown, and new metrics back this up.

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New usage figures released by the firm NetApplications showed a slowdown in September. In its first month of availability, Windows 10 went from 0.39% (beta testers, likely) to 5.21% share. But for September, the second full month of availability, Windows 10 only grew to 6.63% total.

NetMarketShare takes a global view and covers both consumer and corporate use. It measures global use by identifying the OS used by people visiting websites around the globe. So its measurements are OSes in use, and not necessarily deployed.

Once again, I point to the consumer-oriented Steam analytics, which measures gamer PCs, for a contrasting point of view. Steam is the iTunes-like gaming sales marketplace run by Valve Software and has pretty much become the de facto PC game sales platform. There, you see a huge growth for Windows 10. Its September survey puts Windows 10 at 24% of total users, second only to Windows 7 64-bit at 37.5%.

 So, what's going on? Possibly a few things:

1. Corporate and international isn't jumping – The Steam numbers show home users and gamers in the U.S. are jumping onto the Windows 10 bandwagon fast. NetApplications, with its global reach of home and business users, show a tiny percentage, which likely means that businesses and countries outside the U.S. aren't so quick to upgrade.

2. Poor PC sales – In the U.S., PC sales are up a tiny bit, just 1.3% year-over-year. Lenovo led the way with a whopping 22% y-o-y rise. Worldwide, PC sales just plain stink. They were down 7.7%, with Acer leading the way, down 20% y-o-y. With Windows 10 for sale on July 29, that's two months of sales, August and September, for the new OS, and it doesn't look like it spurred buying.

3. Spyware controversy – As people dug into Windows they found it did a disturbing amount of spying on its users, and the anger grew fairly loud over time. Myerson tried to address this, but it was a middling response that didn't address the bulk of the issues.

4. Stability problems – Over time people began to complain about stability issues. The installation alone proved a challenge. Device drivers were missing or broken. I personally had constant problems with my sound card, although that's Creative Labs' fault, not Microsoft.

5. No perceived value – This began drifting out into the blogosphere as well. With many of its installation and setup problems, people began to ask what they get for upgrading, and some may have decided their Windows 7 system isn't broke and they aren't going to fix it.

It's likely a mix of everything. Stability issues will be fixed and hopefully the intrusiveness will be addressed in full. The 24% for Steam users tells me a lot of people here in the U.S. aren't worried about it. I can't recall any version of Windows reaching 24% share in three months.

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