Not even the ghost of obsolescence can coerce users onto Windows 11

It's a great advert for Ubuntu anyway

Windows 10 may be just shy of two years away from the ax, but its successor, Windows 11, appears to be as unpopular as ever.

The end of Windows 10 support is getting closer. Unless the company blinks, October 14, 2025, will be the end of the line for the Home and Pro editions of the operating system, yet users seem reluctant to move on to Windows 11.

There was a marked reluctance by users to move from Windows 7, back in the day, but some of the reasons for hesitancy this time are different.

The move to Windows 10 usually required the purchase of new hardware. It tended to be unavoidable – 7 could run on far lower-spec devices than later versions. The move from Windows 10 to Windows 11 will also require new hardware, but for different reasons.

Infamously, Microsoft axed support for a raft of hardware with Windows 11, including older Intel CPUs, on security grounds. The result was that hardware that will run Windows 10 perfectly well will not accept the new operating system. And this is not due to performance problems (who remembers trying to run Vista on XP hardware?) but rather because of Microsoft's edict.

The result? A collective shrug from PC users. Windows 10 does the job. Why upgrade?

The figures speak for themselves. Windows 10 dominates the desktop. According to Statcounter, the worldwide Windows version desktop market share puts Windows 10 at 71.64 percent, with Windows 11 trailing at 23.61 percent.

To put that in context, Windows 11 was launched two years ago today. Windows 10 was launched in 2015 and took two years to reach the same market share as the then-dominant player, Windows 7. Windows 11? Not quite.

Another measure from Lansweeper, based on research from over 14 million devices, puts Windows 10 installed on 80.56 percent of devices and Windows 11 on just 8.35 percent.

Two years after Windows 11's launch, it is clear that it still trails Windows 10 by an impressive amount.

However, while Windows 11 itself is not much of a carrot, the impending demise of Windows 10 is undoubtedly a stick, and hardware manufacturers are rubbing their hands with glee in the knowledge that enterprises, at least, must plan to refresh their fleets.

Sure, the economic situation might have resulted in the extension of the device lifespans – a decent CPU coupled with an SSD is more than enough for most productivity applications – but an end to updates, no matter how artificial, means a hardware refresh is likely unavoidable.

Hardware makers are, unsurprisingly, pretty happy about the impending demise of Windows 10.

At 2023's Canalys Channel Forum, Luca Rossi, senior veep at Lenovo and boss of the Intelligent Devices Group, said: "In 2024/2025 you have Windows 10 End of Life. Typically this drives a lot of demand in the commercial space. You have adoption of Windows 11 from the corporates, you have the traditional three-year replacement cycle that is now starting from a much bigger install base that has happened during COVID.

"And then AI PC will probably be the other elements to drive a more sustained demand in 2024/25."

After all, it is impossible to talk about tech in 2023 and not mention AI.

Data published by Lansweeper this week – based on an estimated 33 million Windows devices – found that just over 32 percent of the hardware would be seen as unsuitable for the upgrade by Microsoft. This is an improvement over the 42 percent of a year ago but hardly cause for celebration. The increase is likely due to new devices seeping into the system.

However, that growth of adoption will need to accelerate markedly if Windows 11 is to become dominant by the time Windows 10 drops out of support.

With Windows 10, Microsoft quietly pushed out upgrades to users on earlier versions. Thanks to its hardware requirements, Microsoft has made things trickier for itself this time around. ®

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