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As Windows 7 breaks the 1B-device mark, Microsoft's challenge will be to force it back to zero

Gregg Keizer | July 6, 2015
Redmond's pulled out the upgrade stops for Windows 10 to avoid a repeat in 2020 of last year's dump-XP scramble.

The toughest nut will be Windows 7 Enterprise, the SKU limited to volume license customers. Unlike Professional, Enterprise is not eligible for a free upgrade to 10. Instead, organizations must call on their existing Software Assurance (SA) plans, which provide upgrade rights, to migrate to Windows 10. Without SA, companies will need to purchase Windows 10.

Not surprisingly, Microsoft has been most generous in the Windows 10 update cadences for customers running Enterprise, another tactic in its plan to make the OS more palatable to businesses and convince them to get off Windows 7. Only Windows 10 Enterprise offers what Redmond calls "Long-term Servicing Branch," or LTSB, a static build that duplicates the historical practice of receiving only security patches and critical bug fixes, sans feature or user interface (UI) additions or enhancements.

Microsoft got a helping hand in June even before Windows 10 launched, as Windows XP dropped almost three percentage points, falling to a user share of 13.2% of the globe's Windows PCs.

The yin and yang of XP and Windows 7 — when the first dips the second climbs — pushed Windows 7 over the 1 billion mark in June, a first. (Computerworld's calculations are based on Microsoft's claim that Windows runs 1.5 billion systems on the planet.) Paradoxically, that was good news for Microsoft, because while Windows 7 is now on a billion-plus systems, users at least have an upgrade path to Windows 10. XP users do not.

However, Microsoft got no assistance from Windows 8 or 8.1 in June. The successor to Windows 7 that turned off customers with its bifurcated UI (user interface) accounted for 17.6% of all Windows PCs, down from 18% in May.

 

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