Microsoft says Windows 10 now on 1.3 billion monthly active devices

In March 2020, Microsoft officials said Windows 10 had hit its long-expected monthly active device target. Now Microsoft says that number is 1.3 billion, up due to continued strong PC demand.

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Credit: Microsoft

Last March, Microsoft officials said Windows 10 had reached its long-promised one billion "monthly active device" target. Today, April 27, Microsoft officials said Windows 10 is now on 1.3 billion active devices.

A big reason this number has grown over the past year is the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. During the pandemic, more people bought PCs because they found they needed larger-screen devices to work remotely.

During its Q3 FY'21 earnings call on April 27, officials disclosed that demand for PCs helped Microsoft reach its $41.7 billion in revenues for the quarter. Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood said the PC market was exceptionally strong in spite of chip shortages. (Xbox consoles will be more negatively impacted than PCs by the chip shortages, according to Microsoft officials.)

Surface revenues were $1.5 billion for the quarter, which was up 12 percent from the year-ago quarter, but not what Microsoft had hoped due to some not-publicly explained "execution challenges," in the commercial segment, in the words of Hood. (This goes beyond chip supply-chain issues. Microsoft officials didn't elaborate.)

Microsoft officials said Windows OEM revenue was up 10 percent for the quarter, largely driven by consumer PC demand. (Windows OEM Pro revenue was down two percent compared to a very strong year-ago quarter, which was helped by the end-of-support for Windows 7.) For this quarter, Windows OEM non-Pro revenue was up 44 percent (!) compared to the year-ago quarter. 

In 2015, Microsoft officials said they expected Windows 10 to be on 1 billion devices by late summer 2018. The original 1 billion device goal encompassed all kinds of devices that were designed to run the OS in some flavor, including desktops, PCs, laptops, tablets, Windows Phones, Xbox One gaming consoles, Surface Hub conferencing systems, HoloLens augmented reality goggles and various Internet of Things (IoT) devices. At that time officials also said they expected the majority of those 1 billion devices to be PCs and tablets. A year later, Microsoft execs conceded they were unlikely to make that 1 billion by 2018 goal

Microsoft officials said Office 365 now has 300 million paid seats. There are currently 50 million Microsoft 365 consumer subscribers. Last year, officials said privately that Microsoft 365 had contributed $20 billion in revenues for fiscal 2020.