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The blogosphere is excitedly reporting on installation numbers with wildly varying accounts, while Microsoft works quietly and patiently

Windows 10 officially launched last Wednesday as a free update to Windows 7, 8, and 8.1  So a hot question is how many users have taken the plunge and performed the update install.

The only official number comes courtesy of Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) who reported last Thursday that in the first 24 hours of availability, 14 million users had done the update.  The unofficial estimates began shortly thereafter.  WindowsCentral's Daniel Rubino wrote last Friday:

A Microsoft employee who wishes to remain anonymous to the public has informed Windows Central that as of 8 AM this morning, the Windows 10 OS has reportedly been installed on a massive 67 million machines.

Even more interesting is the claim that Microsoft hit a max bandwidth of 15 Tb/s, topping the previous record of Apple's 8 Tb/s during their last OS push. Microsoft has reportedly reserved up to 40Tb/s "from all of the third-party CDNs combined".

Windows Central has not been able to verify the numbers independently. [Update: We now have a second confirmation] However, they are within reason.



This Friday Neowin's executive editor Brad Sams delivered a very different estimate that appears much more conservative.  He writes:

Last week Microsoft pushed the big red button that released Windows 10 to the world and while the company initially announced 14 million installs after 24 hours, sources are telling us that the mark has surpassed 25 million and may be as high as 27 million.

While the peak of 1500 installs per second has slowed, seeing that more than 10 million machines have installed the OS in a week shows that there was strong demand for the OS ahead of its public release.

So which is right -- 67 million installs or 25-27 million installs?  It's possible part of the discrepancy is due to users who started to download the install package and had their download interrupted by the high volume, or had to quit it for other reasons.  It's also possible some users downloaded it, but failed to install it for some reason.

Windows 10 --free

But those explanations fail to fully account for the massive difference in the reported numbers.  Don't expect a clarification from Microsoft, either.  When it comes to downloads in the first week, one thing is clear -- Microsoft's official comment is "no comment."

Satya Nadella
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella greets young tech enthusiasts at a launch event in Nairobi, Kenya last week.

And that's probably wise.  Ultimately it's somewhat counterproductive for Microsoft to focus too closely on how many update in the first week, or even the first month.  Recall Microsoft's mistake of claiming record "sales" of Windows 8.  The claim was based on sales data concerning software and Windows 8 devices to OEMs or retailers.  But those aren't end user sales.  So when customers began to rapidly reject Windows 8 (either by downgrading to Windows 7 or returning products -- or simply refusing to buy new PCs in the first place), Microsoft was left looking like a liar, even if its numbers were technically true.

With Windows 10 -- a far better received effort -- Microsoft seems to have learned from its gaffe.  It's not focused on short term sales.  Rather CEO Satya Nadella has publicly stated that his goal is measured in the 2 to 3 year mark for Windows 10.  By that point he wants a billion devices (including tablets, smartphones, the HoloLens, etc.) running Windows 10.

Thus Microsoft's public objectives boil down not to how many downloads it receives in the first month, but more in the consumer perception and reaction to Windows 10.

One crucial test will be the launch of mobile-targeted versions of Windows 10, which are expected to be introduced by September at the latest.  Windows 10's mobile update packages are expected to target smartphones, phablets, and small tablets, which typically run ARM Holdings plc (LON:ARM) architecture processors, rather than the Intel Corp. (INTC) x86 CPUs found in most PCs.  

Windows 10 on Android

Windows 10 for smartphones is notable as for the first time it will be offered as a replacement install for Android.  Microsoft is working closely with carriers in a variety of regions, as well as device manufacturers and top ARM chipmakers to develop and deliver install packages that allow users to swap out Android for Windows 10 on popular smartphones.

Another crucial test will be Microsoft's ongoing efforts to improve the Windows 10 experience.  That effort will begin in earnest with the "Threshold Wave 2" service releases (SR), which are expected to be delivered in two phases -- SR1 (late Aug. or early Sept.) and SR2 (late Oct.).  

Windows Redstone

Those updates will be followed by a set of SRs in early 2016 known as the "Redstone wave" which are expected to bring a number of major improvements, including new features, to the operating system.  The move could be the game changer Microsoft needs to improve upon its long dismal mobile market share.

Side Note:

Microsoft's peer-to-peer torrent like distribution strategy that's sapping early installers bandwidth to deliver Windows 10 on down the line  has helped it cope with terabit-per-second scale demand, however it has also provoked controversy.  If I get time I'll write a piece on it -- in the meanwhile, feel free to discuss... I'm not ignoring it!

Sources: Neowin, Windows Central, Microsoft [official blog]





"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997






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