Microsoft was recently forced to delay its ambitious goal of getting 1 billion devices onto Windows 10 within the next two years, after its collapsing phone business made that an unrealistic milestone.
Instead, CEO Satya Nadella announced Tuesday during the company’s quarterly earnings call that Microsoft will change the way it reports the number of Windows 10 installations (currently at over 350 million), reflecting a shift in how it thinks about the operating system.
“We changed how we will assess progress,” Nadella says.
Now, instead of the irregular updates on Windows 10 growth we’ve been gotten for the last year, mainly at Microsoft conferences and events, Nadella says Microsoft will share monthly active users on the operating system “regularly.”
Notably, instead of installations, Microsoft is now tracking monthly active users of Windows 10 – the same kind of metric used to track services like Google’s Gmail, which has a billion monthly active users.
And what does “regularly” mean? Who knows? With Windows 10 rapidly approaching its first birthday, maybe it’ll become just another line item on the quarterly earnings report.
Furthermore, Nadella says that Microsoft is measuring the success of Windows 10 on some key benchmarks, which will also be reported on that same “regularly” scale:
“Deliver more value and innovation” – on August 2nd, Microsoft is delivering the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, a free upgrade that brings new stylus and security features. Nadella says new features bring new people into the Windows 10 fold. “More services” – Nadella has long held that Windows 10 is an excellent sales funnel towards Microsoft’s key subscription services, including Office 365 and Xbox Live. Nadella says that Microsoft is focusing on how Windows 10 can push more of that kind of service revenue. “New device categories” – In the same way that the Surface Pro tablet and Surface Book laptop are incentivizing manufacturers like Dell, HP, and Lenovo to up their games in the hardware market, Nadella says that new-era devices like the HoloLens holographic headset and Surface Hub mega-tablet can inspire new kinds of Windows-powered computers to hit the market, increasing Windows’ footprint.
None of this is especially new: The reason Microsoft was angling for a billion devices in the first place was because with Windows 10 everywhere, it gives the crucial software development industry a reason to stick around Windows and not leave for the iPhone or Android.
But by reporting the monthly number, and explicitly making these three points Microsoft’s goals, it’s demystifying its intentions around Windows 10, while making it more explicit that it plans to keep growing in these areas.
The Windows 10 free upgrade offer will end on July 30th, meaning people are going to have to pay $130 for the operating system. It’ll be really interesting to see, on a more regular basis, how many people are willing to pony up for Nadella’s vision of an always-improving Windows.