Microsoft released an ebullient blogpost yesterday about the adoption of Windows 10: it's now running on over 200 million devices and users logged over 11 billion hours on the operating system in December of 2014, which, according to the company, means users are spending more time on Windows 10 "than ever before."
But, considering the announcement comes from an understandably biased source, it should be taken at little more than face value. And remember, this is coming from the same company that launched a deeply flawed Windows 8 and is now scrambling to regain the trust of customers who begrudgingly accept Windows as an inevitably and not a delight. The real story behind Windows 10's adoption is more complex than a metric.
A screen capture of Windows 10
Firstly, the upgrade was free and the rhetoric behind the upgrade was skewed to make users feel they had won some sort of upgrade lottery, when in actuality Windows 10 is just free for everyone. Microsoft won't be charging for Windows 10 or for upgrades; instead, it plans on making money through paid apps and manufacturing licenses. Still, that "you--yes you--get it for free!" message was an enticing bit of exclusivity that led many users to upgrade immediately for fear of missing out on what they perceived as a limited time opportunity.
Secondly, Windows 8 was so bad that upgrading seemed like a way out of a terrible software marriage. That doesn't necessarily mean that Windows 10 is a gamechanger: it's just less awful. Many people are so entangled in the Windows environment that switching to a different system is either impossible or cost prohibitive.
That 200 million figure is also slightly misleading because Microsoft is saying that Windows 10 is installed on that many devices, which means it's counting phones and tablets and wearables. Considering that few people had tablets in 2009 (and Microsoft didn't release a phone until 2010), when Windows 7 was released, it's not a fair comparison. There's a higher usage of Windows 10 because there's a higher number of devices on which the operating system will run.
It's running Windows 10, but it's not a PC.
The other bulletpoint that deserves some explanation is this one: "We’re seeing increased preference for Windows 10 with consumers. Since Black Friday, US retail PC share for Windows 10 grew 16 points to 62% compared to the prior four weeks. Windows 10 mix of PCs rose to 87% from 58% prior to the holiday." Yeah, that's because Black Friday deals feature PCs, not Macs (you can occasionally get a few hundred dollars off Apple products during the holidays from retailers like Best Buy that use them as loss leaders, but even then they're much costlier than PCs). The customer base that buys computers during the holidays is focused on getting a new computer for the least amount of money: it doesn't indicate they prefer Windows 10.
Actual user results have indicated more of a reluctant embrace of the upgrade, but all agree it's better than Windows 8. Zac Jackson, president of OTC Gaming, described his experience with Windows 10: "At one point the start menu just stopped working entirely. I had to dive into source folders to open programs/apps. Window 10 at first launch was almost worse than Windows 8, which was awful.” Improvements are certainly forthcoming, as they are with all software, but the biggest difference is that in Windows 10 users don't have a choice of whether or not they will upgrade, but rather when--that's stopped many users from upgrading from Windows 7.
So yes, Windows 10 is certainly an improvement, but it's not the revolution that Microsoft would lead us to believe: it's more a start to correcting the massive failure of Windows 8.