Windows 10 will miss Microsoft’s 1bn devices target, and Windows Phones sales (or lack of) are to blame

Face palm

Microsoft famously declared that Windows 10 would be running on 1 billion devices in two to three years’ time -- meaning by late summer 2018.

It was a bold claim, but given the OS was free, and available for PCs, tablets, and smartphones, eminently possible. But despite Microsoft’s efforts -- pulling every dirty trick in the book, and then some, to con users into upgrading -- it seems as if the new OS is going to take a while longer to hit that milestone, and blame is being laid squarely at Windows 10 Mobile’s dreadful performance.

SEE ALSO: US Attorney-Generals actively pursuing cases against Microsoft over 'forced' Windows 10 upgrades

Although Windows 10 is already on over 350 million devices (that’s installed, but not all in use), the operating system’s growth is likely to drop off significantly once it stops being free at the end of the month. (At that point, it's expected most growth will come from the sales of new devices, rather than software upgrades).

And Windows 10 Mobile’s contribution to the 1 billion target has been much, much lower than Microsoft anticipated. The past two quarters for Lumia sales have been dreadful, and the platform is very much in the toilet with a current market share of just 1 percent.

The software giant is still aiming for Windows 10 on a billion devices, of course, but has now conceded that it will take a while longer to hit its target.

A spokesman gave Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley the following statement:

Windows 10 is off to the hottest start in history with over 350M monthly active devices, with record customer satisfaction and engagement. 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.

Of course, the number of devices that Windows 10 is on doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, and taking longer to hit the 1 billion mark isn’t an indication of a failure on Windows 10’s behalf either. While Windows 10 Mobile’s poor performance has definitely hit Microsoft’s aspirations hard, new PC sales have been in free-fall for quite some time, and new tablet sales aren't the savior either. In revising its target this early on, Microsoft is simply acknowledging that it anticipates further challenging times ahead.

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