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

A victory worthy of a eulogy


Coolest corpse in the graveyard

Yes, Windows remains the world's dominant (desktop) operating system. According to NetMarketShare data, Windows still controls more than 90 per cent of that market.

But that market is in decline, a descent that becomes even more pronounced when compared to mobile's rise, as depicted in this Benedict Evans chart.

Even within its comfortable PC market, Microsoft is under siege, albeit with a solid cushion. Over the past few years, Microsoft's share of the desktop market has actually slipped a few points, even as Mac OS X has steadily climbed. Granted, of the 293 million PCs IDC expects to ship this year, less than 10 per cent will be Macs, so we're not talking about big gains.

But as the iOS vs. Windows graphic above suggests, winning PCs doesn't get you much of the future.

As recent comScore data reflects, mobile usage already significantly exceeds PC usage. Unfortunately for Microsoft, this shift is only becoming more pronounced:

Share time spent by platform comScore

Microsoft may be able to hit its billion-device goal without much effort, as it caters to the 55+ core demographic. But that's a victory worthy of a eulogy.

Microsoft needs more

One billion, quite simply, is not enough. It won't challenge Microsoft to drive hard beyond its installed base to win over new Windows 10 converts.

And that's ultimately what Microsoft needs for Windows 10 to be classified a success: conversions.

Apple gets this. Despite a bank balance bigger than that of many countries, Apple keeps hammering on Android to win over mobile users. There is no complacency in Cupertino, because there's still so much of the mobile world to create and win.

Microsoft needs to be thinking more like this. As important as it is for the company to cater to its faithful, it really needs to create more acolytes. For example, I've spent months using its Surface Pro 3, and love the Metro interface. What I haven't loved (what I loathe, actually) is the constant shifting back and forth between old-school Windows and new-school Windows. It's confusing and jarring, a compromise that goes too far to placate the faithful.

Here's the thing: those faithful love Microsoft. There's a reason that most (90 per cent!) people happily prefer Windows to Mac OS X, and buy Windows machines. They're comfortable with the experience.

Those same people run Android or iOS on their phones – because they like the experience and have yet to be convinced that Microsoft offers something better. But they're converts waiting to happen, if only Microsoft would give them something to love.

Maybe Windows 10 will be exactly what they want. But not yet: there are far too many compromises in the product right now, as Orlowski highlights.

Get it right, however, and one billion will start to look like a rounding error. For now, it looks like a goal that is both too easy and too limiting. ®

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