Twenty years ago, 97% of all personal computers were desktops and laptops running Windows. Today, 90% of desktops and laptops run Windows, but now constitute just 36% of all personal computers. While business still runs on Windows desktops and laptops, only 15% of new tablets feature Windows and Windows phones are virtually nonexistent.
Microsoft had big expectations for Windows 10 at product launch on July 29, 2015, predicting that one billion devices would feature Windows 10 in “two to three years” since Windows 10 would work on every conceivable device.
Attracted by the lure of free upgrades from Windows 7 and 8 and constantly prodded by increasingly urgent and deceptive offers to upgrade “right now”, the first year saw 350 million new installations. Three years after release, about 670 million PCs are running Windows 10. While short of the original goal, this is a faster pace than any previous version of Windows achieved. Windows 10 became the most popular version of Windows in January this year, finally displacing Windows 7.
Volunteering to be the first to use new software is rarely a rewarding experience. Windows 10 initially had the feel of an incomplete product rushed to market, but continuous development has steadily improved reliability and productivity. Windows 10 is evolving into a mature product; businesses are finally converting to the new operating system. Feature updates have thus far been highly focused – welcome additions for targeted groups, unnecessary for the majority of users.
After a puzzling beginning with upgrades and updates appearing at seemingly random intervals, Microsoft has finally settled into a predictable pattern of biannual feature updates in April and October augmented by cumulative updates on the second Tuesday of each month. While the updating process is now more automatic and efficient than previous releases, home users have minimal ability to limit updating to convenient times. Dealing with bug infested updates remains a persistent frustration.
Apps included by default have substantially improved from the first generation. Cortana, Bing and Microsoft Edge have improved, but remain poorly accepted despite being aggressively promoted. Likewise, Windows Store apps have improved in quantity and quality, but remain unpopular. Microsoft includes advertising and trial programs in the start menu and in some apps in an attempt to create a new revenue stream from consumers.
Windows 10 is the only version of Windows being marketed today and will be continuously improved. Now that Windows is a service, it will not be replaced by a new product. Support will continue as long as the device is compatible with the service provided. Consumer systems will ordinarily have the Home or Pro editions installed, although there are special editions for schools, enterprises and professional workstations available.
Support for Windows XP and Vista has ended; these systems are no longer secure. Windows 7 sales ended in 2013 and support officially ends January 14, 2020; Microsoft has firmly stated that this schedule will NOT be extended. Windows 8.1 support ends January 10, 2023. At that time, there will finally be just “One Windows”.