Microsoft Says It'll Miss 1 Billion Windows 10 Device Target, Citing Smartphone Issues

Microsoft has backed off an earlier prediction that Windows 10 would be running on 1 billion devices by mid-2017, suggesting that the shrinking of its smartphone business will prevent it from hitting that goal.

Nearly a year after hitting the market, Windows 10 is now running on more than 350 million devices, according to Microsoft. And the operating system has managed to fix most of the issues that vexed Windows 8 users, banishing the considerable negativity that surrounded the operating system.

Yet after laying off most of the staff from its 2014 acquisition of Nokia, and taking two separate restructuring charges from the $9.4 billion acquisition, Microsoft now has a smartphone business that's much smaller than it was when it made its initial Windows 10 device calculation.

That means it's going to take beyond mid-2017, which is when Microsoft's fiscal 2018 starts, to reach the 1 billion device goal.

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[Related: 10 Reasons To Not Upgrade To Windows 10]

"We're pleased with our progress to date, but due to the focusing of our phone hardware business, it will take longer than [fiscal year 2018] for us to reach our goal of 1 billion monthly active devices," Microsoft said last week in a statement to ZDNet.

Partners told CRN they're not surprised to see Microsoft acknowledging it won't hit a target that many in the channel consider to be overly ambitious. Much of the 350 million device figure is likely traceable to the free Windows 10 upgrade Microsoft started offering last July. That offer ends ends July 29.

Andrew Kretzer, director of sales and marketing at Bold Data Technology, a Fremont, Calif.-based system builder that works with Microsoft, said he's been skeptical of the software giant's ability to hit its ambitious Windows 10 user goal since it was announced.

"We have plenty of customers who are still very reluctant to move off of Windows 7, whether because of stability problems, privacy concerns or a host of other Windows 10 [performance] issues," Kretzer told CRN, adding that he's still having issues with printing while using the operating system.

Microsoft's revelation could also show that Microsoft's aggressive efforts to get Windows 7 and Windows 8 users to upgrade aren't having the desired effect. Microsoft has used a variety of controversial tactics to get Windows 7 and Windows 8 users to upgrade.

Last year, users complained when Microsoft downloaded files to their Windows 7 and Windows 8 PCs even if they hadn't signed up for the Windows 10 upgrade.

Earlier this year, Microsoft was vilified for changing the function of the red "X" on the Windows 10 update dialog box to initiate an upgrade instead of close the window.