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article imageWindows 10 usage is now in decline

By James Walker     Oct 3, 2016 in Technology
Microsoft's Windows 10 is experiencing a decline in usage for the first time since its launch. The dip, indicated by two metrics, is entirely unexpected and has not been fully explained. It suggests Windows 10 is falling out of favour with customers.
There are currently 400 million devices running Windows 10, according to the most recent official figures from Microsoft. The vast majority of those installations were made in the first year of availability, when the operating system was free to Windows 7 and 8.1 users. That upgrade offer ended at the end of July. It was expected that the install rate would begin to slow dramatically without the support of people getting Windows 10 for free. In practice, that hasn't happened.
As BetaNews reports, usage data from NetMarketShare reveals Windows 10's share of the OS market continued to grow as normal throughout August, as if the end of the free upgrade offer never happened. Then, in September, something even stranger occurred: Windows 10 usage actually declined, slipping down 0.46 percent.
NetMarketShare reported the dip last week. Initially, it prompted scepticism from critics in the media. However, StatCounter, another usage monitoring firm, has since published similar findings. StatCounter's data suggests Windows 10 grew 0.08 percent to 22.27 percent overall in September. This figure remains less than NetMarketShare's reported overall percentage, currently sat at 22.53%.
Windows 10 has found particular popularity amongst PC gamers on Steam. Almost 50% of players now use the operating system. Over the weekend, Steam published its own hardware survey results for September, using data collected from users' machines. It also showed a decline in Windows 10 usage, down 0.05% to 48.90%. It looks as though Windows 10 has faced a genuine dip in installs, just 14 months after launch.
There is no obvious reason for the decline. While Windows 10 isn't popular with everyone, it was not anticipated that people who upgraded would later choose to revert to an older OS. Microsoft is unlikely to confirm any reports of usage decreases. If true, the company may have cause for concern though. Windows 8 took two years to begin declining, after months of prolonged growth deceleration.
Windows 10 has been through plenty of negative press recently that could have contributed to its decline in usage. In August, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) slammed the company for its "blatant disregard" to user privacy, suggesting users stay away from the OS. Last month, UK consumer rights group Which? told Microsoft it should pay compensation to customers who have been left with unusable PCs plagued with problems caused by the Windows 10 upgrade.
The concerns of consumer rights authorities are unlikely to have caused 0.46 percent of Windows 10 users to downgrade or switch to an alternative platform though. It will be interesting to see how Windows 10 fares in the October operating system usage reports. Only after another month will it become clear if Windows 10 really is in decline or is just suffering from a period of organically dipped usage.
If confirmed, the decrease in users could be harmful to Microsoft's goal of having 1 billion devices run Windows 10. It originally aimed to meet the target in 2018, a challenge it has since admitted isn't going to be met.
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