Windows 10 Install Base Shows Strong Numbers, but OS Market Share is Stuck

Project NEON screenshot leaked

Windows recently updated its developer site to show OS installation data for November 2016, which reveals that the OS install base (total number of machines using a particular version of Windows) for Windows 10 now stands at 46 percent, while Windows 7 installations have fallen to 39 percent.

That indicates that there are more Win10 users than those that use Windows 7, but that data appears to conflict with data from NetMarketShare, which tracks month-over-month OS market share, among other things.

NetMarketShare data shows that Win10 is only installed on 25.19 percent of all desktop devices.

The disparity comes from several things.

First of all, in its OS install base report, Microsoft only counts PCs and tablets running various versions of Windows, simply because it’s merely an indicator for Windows developers to know who they’re addressing.

NetMarketShare, on the other hand, gets its numbers based on all PC devices – no tablets in their count because they group tablets along with mobile.

Assuming both figures are an accurate reflection of reality, it means the volume of tablets running Windows 10 is quite large, and desktop installations of Windows 10 are fewer than the 46 percent that Microsoft shows. Add the NetMarketShare data to that and it also shows that Windows 10 adoption is still not very strong after more than 18 months in the market.

The second point is that Microsoft’s numbers show a much lower Windows 7 install base than that of Windows 10. That’s where the real conflict arises.

If Windows 7 is only on 39 percent of all Windows desktops and tablets, and Windows 10 is on 46 percent of the same market segment, that means there are more Windows 10 devices than there are Windows 7 machines. That could be possible considering tablets are included in the count, but it’s a hard fact to digest.

The big point here seems to be that Surface tablets and other OEM tablets running Windows 10 are selling really well, which boosts Windows 10 install base numbers.

But Windows has always been a desktop operating system, with tablets being relatively new to the mix. What that implies is that the Windows 10 tablet market is actually holding up Win10 desktop numbers to a great degree.

That’s not necessarily good or bad news for Microsoft, because it is only looking at the total install base – in other words, the total number of licenses given away for free, or sold to consumers.

But from a Windows strategy perspective, that’s not great news at all. A lot of Microsoft’s initiatives around devices, gaming, 3D, etc. depend on more widespread adoption of Windows 10 on desktop devices that can deliver the full power of the new operating system version, not relatively low-powered tablets or even hybrid 2-in-1s.

Microsoft is obviously not going to sit by and watch its new OS version struggle with desktop OS market share. This year’s OEM desktop PCs will all come with Windows 10, and a surge in enterprise adoption of Windows 10 is also expected in 2017.

As such, we should see at least a 50% market share for Windows 10 by the end of 2017, and that’s been validated by research firms Gartner and Citrix in a jointly published report called Windows 10 – The Unavoidable Upgrade.

For now, however, Win10’s greatest deterrent is its own grandfather, Win7, still alive and kicking nearly 8 years after its launch on July 22, 2009.

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