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Bill Bennett


Windows 10 one year on

Windows 10

Some diehards still argue Windows XP was Microsoft’s best-ever operating system. Nobody says that about Windows 8. Windows Vista was just as forgettable. For many users, Windows reached a peak with 7.

Where does Windows 10 fit in this picture?

If Windows 10 has yet to earn an XP or 7-like reputation for greatness, it has already passed one test. It is not an embarrassment. It was clear from the moment Windows 10 first appeared, that it was an improvement on the ill-conceived Windows 8.

Fast adoption

One year after launch Windows has a 20 percent share of desktop operating systems. Microsoft says users have adopted 10 faster than any other new version of Windows. Some 350 million computers around the world run Windows 10.

Let’s not get too carried away with this number. The 20 percent figure comes from netmarketshare.com in August 2016. In that month Windows 7 still accounted for 47 percent of operating systems in use.

There are reasons why users have been so quick to adopt Windows.

For a start, it replaces Windows 8. Many users couldn’t wait to move on from that train wreck. Even the 8.1 upgrade didn’t ease their angst.

Frustrated users would sieze almost any route out of 8.

Free upgrade

Moreover, until a few months ago, Windows 10 was a free upgrade.

Microsoft gave everyone using older Windows versions constant, unmissable reminders to update. There were warnings that the software wouldn’t stay free for long.

Windows 8 was unpopular. Microsoft gave users financial incentive to upgrade. It would have been a surprise if users didn’t adopt Windows 10 faster than earlier versions.

It is more remarkable that almost half of all computer users chose to stick with Windows 7.

Since its launch, Windows 7 has enjoyed a well-deserved reputation from users. It is easy to use. It feels right in a way Windows 8 never did. The software is robust and reliable. Windows 7 is low maintenance.  All these things matter when it comes to operating systems, especially for business users.

Happy users

That’s not to say Windows 10 upgraders are unhappy. According to Microsoft, customers are more satisfied with Windows 10 that with any previous edition.

You have to take this kind of statistic with a pinch of salt. For years Microsoft reported impressive high satisfaction scores for unloved versions of Windows. There’s a press release somewhere telling the world how much users loved Windows ME. That version of the software is now regarded as joke.

The voice of the market is far more important that any internal marketing survey. To date there hasn’t been a huge outcry of despair from Windows 10 users.  Yes, you can see plenty of niggles and whinges[1]. Yet there’s no widespread outpouring of anger, grief and denial like there was with Windows 8.

Windows 10 better than 8

Everyone knows Windows 10 is better than the unloved Windows 8. The recent Anniversary Update is another step in the right direction. Microsoft says there are 5000 new features in the update. Most changes are obscure improvements that will pass most people by unnoticed. Even so there’s a clear feeling the code is tighter. And that’s something people will notice.

One aspect of Windows 10 that is yet to sink-in with the great unwashed is how it improves in the background. There are big updates, but there are also frequent smaller updates. In a sense, Windows 10 is an operating system-as-a-service. Just as SaaS applications get frequent tweaks, Microsoft fixes Windows 10 without users noticing.

There was a lot right with the first official version of Windows 10. It was fast, stable and secure. But there were flaws. These have been cleared up over the last 12 months.

There’s a joke in geek circles that Microsoft gets every second Windows version right. It’s too soon to say if Windows 10 will prove a long-lived success like XP or 7. It has already confirmed the good-bad-good Windows release pattern. That’s something to celebrate.

  1. Most of the anger with Windows 10 focuses on privacy issues. We’ll look at that in a separate post. ↩




2 thoughts on “Windows 10 one year on

  1. Actually, the geek joke is that Microsoft only gets the odd-number operating systems right. 1,3,5(XP),7 and now 9. Yes, even Microsoft believes this and deliberately named this version 10 to avoid the “curse”.

    Sadly, we can expect them to mess up v11.

    I suspect the problem is that Microsoft has to produce a system new and improved enough to warrant people paying for it. Unfortunately, this takes 4-5 years to do, rather than 2-3, but Microsoft can’t afford not to produce another OS for that long. Hence the alternating garbage OS.

    Meanwhile, Apple, who make money off hardware and don’t charge for the OS, can happily upgrade the OS every 18 months in small increments making sure they don’t screw up too badly each time. OSX has been slowly converging with iOS in a similar (but much less clunky) way that Windows 8 tried to converge with Windows phone. Typical Apple, of course, wait for the bleeding edge of technology to go by and then take the good bits and make them usable.

    1. It looks as if Microsoft will now slip into an Apple-like pattern of smaller, incremental updates. If Windows 10 proves to be as successful as XP or 7 it could be around for close to a decade with small updates.

      The issue the becomes: how does Microsoft earn revenue from this model?

      Making hardware helps move it closer to the Apple model, but it still leaves a lot of money on the table.

      My guess is that there will be more paid-for services like cloud back-ups and storage. Many users are not keen on an operating system with built-in advertising, so, at some point, there may be an optional no-ads add-on for $X a year.

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