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Windows 11 adoption is still well behind Windows 10

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This month marks two years since the release version of Windows 11 has been on the market. How’s it doing in terms of users? According to unconfirmed internal data from Microsoft, there are over 400 million devices running the flagship operating system. Which sounds impressive…until you look at the data for Windows 10. By the same mark in 2017, Windows 10 was on over 500 million devices, according to Microsoft’s annual report for that year. Windows 11 is definitely seeing a slower uptick.

The internal Microsoft data was cited by Windows Central (Microsoft hasn’t published total numbers publically like it did before), but is broadly in line with trends from public sources. For example, Statcounter shows Windows 10 still running on more than 70% of Windows-powered devices as of September, with Windows 11 reaching just under 24 percent. Again, comparing the same data to Windows 10’s two-year mark, it was installed on almost 38 percent of PCs.

That said, the outlook isn’t as poor as that 100 million user gap might suggest. Windows 10 was coming off the broadly unpopular Windows 8 and its famously unwelcome user interface shift, with the former seen as a needed course correction. Even the most Windows fan will admit that 11 is less necessary as an upgrade. Windows 11 also has some extra hardware requirements that have locked out a considerable number of older machines, and we’re currently coming out of a historic PC sales slump.

If you want to be more encouraging, Microsoft is being a bit less manipulative than it was during the previous transitionary period. According to the unconfirmed report, Microsoft expects Windows 11 to pass the 500 million mark next year.

Still, with the free upgrade path now closed and an AI-infused Windows 12 rumored for a 2024 debut, Microsoft would surely like to see those numbers go up. Maybe it should work on getting some of those familiar interface tweaks back into Windows 11 in the meantime — after all, it worked before.

Michael is a former graphic designer who’s been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

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