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No, Microsoft: Your one-billion Windows 10 goal is just sad ... really sad

A victory worthy of a eulogy

Comment Targeting one million of anything is no longer cool, according to Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg. Only one billion will do.

It's not surprising, therefore, that Microsoft has set itself a billion-device goal for Windows 10. What is surprising is just how unambitious that goal is, given the computing giant's aspirations. Indeed, Microsoft may handily surpass its billion-device goal and still lose the market.

Of course, much depends on how Microsoft is adding up its billion. A billion ain't what it used to be.

As Neowin's Brad Sams reports, Microsoft set itself a billion-device goal at its Build 2015 conference. That is, one billion devices running Windows 10. PCs, tablets, and phones, not to mention the XBox One and IoT devices.

Given that mix, the goal, as Sams laments, "is obtainable and, in fact, is far from ambitious."

There are a few reasons for this, some of which Sams calls out, and others that he doesn't.

First of all, Windows 10 is best suited to its traditional PC homebase, as Windows watcher Paul Thurrott declares: "Windows 10 is most successful... on traditional PC form factors and on transforming devices like 2-in-1 PCs, where the primary interaction is with keyboard and mouse/touchpad."

Most PCs that ship today run Windows and, presumably, over time people will either upgrade (for free, in some cases) or simply buy new machines with Windows 10. Microsoft is well over 70 per cent of the way to its billion-device goal without breaking a PC sweat.

Yes, things are more challenging as we look to mobile. Take, for example, tablets, where Windows 10 offers an awkward fit, particularly in the case of mini-tablets, according to Thurrott, who (after extensive testing) claims: "Achieving success is time-consuming and complex, with no promise of a positive outcome."

Even if Windows 10 hums on tablets, that form factor doesn't show much more promise than PCs. Even Apple's iPad is in decline, as this Asymco chart illustrates.

Which leaves us with smartphones, a place that Windows 10 doesn't yet play, and won't for another year or so. From sources I've talked to, what Microsoft bills as "Windows 10 for mobile" isn't... Windows 10. Not yet, anyway. (And even if it is, you can only get it on a subset of lower-end phones that run Windows 8.1.)

For those able to get their hands on the purported Windows 10 preview, as The Register’s Andrew Orlowski calls out, expect: "A compromised UX, that too often is not one thing or another." Going further, he argues: "Windows on phones has gone backwards from Windows Phone 8.1. It's taken something that works and made it harder to use."

So even if it were true-blue Windows 10, it's not clear that this is a compliment.

Which is unfortunate, because for that billion-device number to mean anything, Microsoft really, really needs it to be relevant to phones.


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