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Microsoft Walks Back '1 Billion' Device Goal for Windows 10

Microsoft isn't likely to hit its stated goal of putting Windows 10 on 1 billion devices by its fiscal 2018, company executives admitted recently.

Windows chief Terry Myerson delivered that 1-billion-devices forecast at last year's Build conference, just three months before the official release of Windows 10. That prediction presumed that Microsoft's Lumia device lineup in 2015 would boost, or at least maintain, the company's position in the mobile phone market.

Since then, however, Microsoft has dramatically scaled back its mobile phone efforts -- enough for the company to admit that reaching the 1 billion mark could take longer than originally anticipated.

In a statement to journalist Ed Bott last week, Microsoft Corporate Vice President Yusef Mehdi said, "Windows 10 is off to the hottest start in history with over 350 million monthly active devices, with record customer satisfaction and engagement. We're pleased with our progress to date, but due to the focusing of our phone hardware business, it will take longer than FY18 for us to reach our goal of 1 billion monthly active devices. In the year ahead, we are excited about usage growth coming from commercial deployments and new devices -- and increasing customer delight with Windows."

Bott explained that he "did the math" when Myerson initially set the 1 billion goal last year and had deemed it realistic at the time. "But my numbers relied on Windows Phone continuing to sell at least 50 million handsets per year, in addition to upgrades, for a total of at least 200 million Windows 10 Mobile devices in the market by 2018," he said. "That's not going to happen. And, meanwhile, the traditional PC market continues to shrink, slowly."

While Microsoft has lowered its Windows Phone ambitions, that doesn't necessarily spell the end of Windows as a platform for mobile devices, including tablets and third-party phones. A noteworthy example is the forthcoming Windows 10-based HP Elite x3 running on an ARM processor. Introduced in February at the Mobile World Congress, the Elite x3 aims to bridge the functions of a phablet and a PC using Continuum, the technology introduced in Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile that allows users to connect large displays, keyboards and mice, and run both Universal Windows Platform apps from the Microsoft Store and traditional Win32 and .NET applications.

HP on Monday said it will start selling the device later this month for $699, and a complete bundled solution that includes the Desk Dock starting Aug. 29 for $799.

In addition to HP, Microsoft has recently identified Acer, Alcatel, Trinity and Vaio as its current roster of phone hardware partners.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.