Speaking to Bloomberg in a somewhat wide-ranging interview, Satya Nadella made an interesting statement on the size of the Windows ecosystem.
Besides restating his common refrain regarding Microsoft and phones, Nadella also stated that there was now 1 billion Windows users. The number is interesting from the mouth of the CEO of Microsoft, who would of course have a pulse on this important stat. It is down from the commonly assumed number of 1.5 billion PC users (stated by Microsoft themselves in 2014), and from a number previously quoted by Microsoft in 2011 of 1.25 billion users.
It suggests rather than simply being static the number of PC users are actually rapidly shrinking, which may explain why the growth of Windows 10 users has stalled at around 400-500 billion despite around 260 million PCs being sold in 2016.
That would make the Windows ecosystem a possible tie with Apple’s iOS ecosystem, which is assumed to be around 1 billion devices big, and given the trajectory likely on the way to being a distant 3rd, always a dangerous position for a Microsoft product. Nadella emphasised that Windows was important but now only one part of a diversified portfolio of products with linkages between them.
In the interview Nadella also once again addressed the persistent question of whether Microsoft would ever make a phone, and around their commitment to hardware in general.
In the interview Nadella was clear that their intention was to “invent categories and re-invent categories” and will always be in the “business of end to end computing experience” but that Microsoft was “not obsessed with categories which are well served, not at least on current rules.”
Nadella offered HoloLens as an example of the kind of device which breaks the rules of what an untethered mobile device was. Microsoft has been mentioning the device more often recently, and one wonders if this means the project has risen in profile in Microsoft over the last year.
The video can be seen embedded below (with the billion PC statement at around the 4 min mark), or probably somewhat better at Bloomberg here.
We requested an official statement from Microsoft who responded, saying:
“Windows has always been global with more than 1.5 billion customers around the world using Windows today.”