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Despite its problems, Windows 10 is slowly taking over the world

Windows 10
(Image credit: Shutterstock; Future)

Windows 10 has now hit 1.3 billion users, and whatever you may think of it, the operating system is picking up pace with adoption levels going by Microsoft’s own figures.

This revelation came from CEO Satya Nadella in Microsoft’s latest earnings call (for fiscal Q3), and it’s interesting to see the acceleration in growth of the Windows 10 user base in recent times.

As mentioned, Windows 10 is now on 1.3 billion monthly active users. If we look at the time it took the OS to attract a billion users, that milestone was reached in March 2020. That means in a period of just over a year since then, Windows 10 has gained 300 million users.

Looking back further, Windows 10 was on 800 million devices as of March 2019, meaning that in the year between then and March 2020, the operating system put on 200 million users.

So, the pace of adoption has accelerated from 200 million to 300 million, roughly comparing the past year to the year before. Granted, the period of growth measured has an extra month (April), so you can knock a bit off the 300 million figure. But even correcting for that you’re looking at something like 260-270 million extra, which still indicates that Windows 10’s rate of adoption has got around a third faster now.

Lockdown sales spike

The reason for this? As Windows Latest, which highlighted this, points out, the global pandemic has meant that far more people have been working from home in the past year, and that has driven more folks to use Windows 10. We’ve certainly seen sales of PC hardware spike due to working from home and lockdowns last year, and most of those devices will be running Windows 10, naturally.

So, this isn’t necessarily about Windows 10 becoming seen as a better choice or more popular in general, and instead it could be outside factors pushing adoption of the operating system. There could be an element of the former, of course, but Windows 10 hasn’t pushed forward with any must-have features in particular in recent times, and continues to be plagued by unfortunate bugs that don’t do its reputation any favors.

Don’t forget that looking at the overall timeframe Microsoft set when it initially launched Windows 10, it took a good deal longer to reach a billion active users – it was hoped that this would happen three years after launch, which would’ve been around mid-2018. As mentioned, this didn’t actually occur until March 2020, so nearly two years off the pace of Microsoft’s original target.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).