Windows 10 won't make Microsoft's predicted one billion installations by 2018

Microsoft predicted early last summer, a few months before it was released to the public, that Windows 10 would be installed on one billion devices within two to three years. The outer limit of that forecast, then, would be July 2018—two years from now, give or take. But late last week, the company acknowledged that it's not going to happen. 

Windows 10 has been a big success on PCs, at least in term of the rate of adoption: It's far and away the most widely-used OS on Steam, and back in May was reported to have been installed on 300 million active devices, a big jump from the 200 million installations reported at the beginning of the year. But Microsoft Senior Vice President Yusuf Mehdi said in a statement sent to ZDNet that changes in its business mean it no longer expects that pace to hold. 

“Windows 10 is off to the hottest start in history with over 350 million monthly active devices, with record customer satisfaction and engagement,” Mehdi said. “We're pleased with our progress to date, but due to the focusing of our phone hardware business, it will take longer than FY18 for us to reach our goal of 1 billion monthly active devices. In the year ahead, we are excited about usage growth coming from commercial deployments and new devices—and increasing customer delight with Windows." ” 

The “phone hardware business” is a factor because the original prediction was based on installations across all devices, including PCs, tablets, and mobiles. But back in May, Microsoft cut 1850 jobs in its mobile hardware division, most of them at Microsoft Mobile in Finland, and effectively gave up on the hardware side of the business—and on the device lineup it had counted on as a guaranteed platform for its OS. The looming end of the free Windows 10 upgrade offer on PCs won't help, although I would guess it won't be too much of a drag either, since by now everyone interested in taking advantage of it has almost certainly already done so. 

(Speaking of which, consider this your last-minute reminder: The Windows 10 free upgrade offer ends on July 29, after which it will cost $119. He who hesitates, etc.)