ONE BEELLION Windows 10 devices?! OH REALLY

This word 'billion' cannot mean what you think it means

Windows chief Terry Myerson in the thick of friendlies at Microsoft’s Build conference has predicted one billion devices will be running Windows 10 in its first two to three years.

He reckons the big lift will come from a wave of Windows 7 users upgrading to Windows 10 and people buying 2-in-1s – laptops that double as tablets. He apparently believes Windows 10 will unleash a demand, pent up since Windows Vista, for something new.

Myerson told Bloomberg:

“One thing we haven’t had – a great Windows release could drive people to refresh their PC... I see people with these Windows 7 PCs and I look at a great new 2-in-1 device with touch and I think there’s so much more you could have. I’m a little more optimistic.”

It's not clear how Myerson expects Microsoft to hit that number. Bloomberg didn't push him. What is certain, however, is that you should forget the Redmond brainwashing on mobile first, on devices and on HoloLens.

None of these are going to shift Windows 10 anywhere near that billion number. It’ll be the good, old-fashioned PC – and that’s a important given just how far Microsoft is trying to persuade Android and iOS developers they should have their applications run on Windows 10.

First, the numbers.

Myerson has set Windows 10 a goal of hitting one billion devices in the three years after it’s launch, expected later this year. Can Microsoft hit that? Gartner expects 422,726 million units running Windows will ship by the end of 2015 – that's expected to be a 17.4 per cent up increase over 2014. Gartner’s number include devices, desktops, notebooks and other mobiles, and the lead-like Windows Phone.

By Gartner’s numbers, Microsoft must double the 2015 number in 2016 and add it again to break the one-billion threshold within three years – 2017.

Microsoft doesn’t just make Windows for PCs: as before, there’s Windows Phone and Xbox. Microsoft sold 10 million Xbox units in one 12-month period to October 2014 and 34.9 million Windows Phones for 2014, according to IDC.

Let's be kind and assume those numbers stay static, rather than getting worse or even growing, and you still get Gartner’s predicted 2017 figure. Unless, that is, there’s a radical pivot in the Windows business that sees Windows phones explode and falling Xbox console sales bounce back. Without such a pivot, PCs will still account for the vast majority of those Windows 10 “devices.”

Microsoft PR has been moving towards conflation of PC and phone on the “what is Windows” thing for some while now. This is the final instalment.

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