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Windows 10 books big growth spurt

Gregg Keizer | May 30, 2016
Dupe-the-user tactic that changed the click-the-Close-button behavior may be at root of activity gains.

Windows 10 in the last two weeks has posted its largest growth spurt since August 2015, according to data from an Irish analytics vendor.

StatCounter, which measures usage share -- a proxy for activity, but not necessarily representative of the number of devices running Windows 10 -- portrayed a large and extended string of week-over-week increases, starting around May 13 and continuing through Thursday. In the last three days -- starting Tuesday -- those gains were in excess of a percentage point, a rarity in StatCounter's Windows 10 data.

Computerworld has tracked Windows 10 growth using StatCounter's numbers since the OS's July 2015 debut by averaging the last seven days to eliminate the inevitable spikes during weekends. The results, then, show seven-day rolling averages of week-over-week changes.

The most recent growth of Windows 10 was larger than that at the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016, when gains were likely fueled by a combination of new PCs and the holidays. Because Windows 10 has only a minor foothold in business, when consumers are at their own PCs -- on weekends but also on U.S. or global holidays -- 10's usage climbs.

win10 usage may 26 
Windows 10's week-over-week gains have boomed in the past two weeks, exceeding the impressive growth at the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016. Credit: StatCounter. (Click for larger image). 

Although Windows 10's growth has been easy to chart using StatCounter and other data sources, the why has been much harder to pin down. Much of Microsoft's progress in convincing or cajoling consumers into adopting Windows 10 has been a virtual black box, with little to no details from the company on how it implements what appear to be cycles of growth.

However, there are two most-probable explanations for the latest week-over-week gains.

First, consumers may have reacted to Microsoft's May 5 notice that it will end the free upgrade offer on July 29. By restating the deadline, Microsoft may have prompted large numbers of laggards to grab Windows 10 while the grabbing was gratis.

Second, Microsoft has changed how users interact with a notification that their Windows 10 upgrade, already downloaded to their machine, has been scheduled for execution. Rather than interpret the clicking of the red "X" in the upper-right corner of the pop-up window as canceling the slated upgrade, Microsoft has taken to assuming that the action actually approves the upgrade.

Users decried the change, and for good reason: Microsoft's interpretation of an X-click was not only counter to decades of user expectations but also broke the company's own design rules. The conclusion many reached: Microsoft was trying to trick Windows 7 and 8.1 users into upgrading against their wishes.


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