Microsoft released Windows 10 five years ago, and it’s looking increasingly like it might be the last numbered version of Windows we ever see. Microsoft has rolled out numerous updates that added features and (usually) squashed bugs, but it’s still just Windows 10. Now, the operating system has reached a significant milestone. There are now more than 1 billion monthly active devices on Windows 10. Microsoft might have preferred that happened a long time ago, but better late than never.
This new record serves as bragging rights for Microsoft, but it was already well in the lead. Windows 10 has been the most popular desktop operating system in the world for some time, although it took a while until all metrics agreed on that. We can now be fairly certain that it surpassed Windows 7 about a year ago. Currently, about 300 million systems still run on Windows 7, which is no longer getting full support from Microsoft. In addition to all those Windows 10 machines, Microsoft has also noted that it now has 17.8 million Windows Insiders, who help the company test updates before they land on everyone’s computers.
Initially, Microsoft wanted to reach this milestone within three years of release, but it had to extend that timeline when Windows 10’s mobile arm failed to gain traction. The first few years of Windows 10 announcements were rife with mentions of Windows 10 Phone devices. Microsoft made an effort to fight back against Apple and Google, but it never pushed very hard. Eventually, a lack of apps and uninspiring hardware led to its demise. Even with its Lumia brand, Microsoft was never able to make Windows 10 Phone a success. It ended support for the mobile platform last year.
With that 1 billion device milestone out of the way, Microsoft is preparing to split its Windows base up a bit. Windows 10X will bring a new user experience to dual-screen devices like the Surface Neo. It will feature new menus, a cleaner desktop UI, and dynamic wallpapers. We’ve also seen some design elements from Windows 10X pop up in test builds of Windows 10. We might see more of those features come over, but Windows 10X will be a distinct product at launch.
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