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Windows 10 market share growth stalls in February — is it cause for concern?

Why it matters to you

Microsoft will have to continue working hard to make Windows 10 an attractive operating system for stalwarts who refuse to make the switch.

Microsoft invests serious time and money into making Windows 10 the best-performing, most feature-rich, and safest operating systems around. As CEO Satya Nadella put it, Microsoft wants people to love Windows, rather than using it just because they have no choice.

That’s why the continued adoption of Windows 10 is an important metric for Microsoft and one that it’s closely watching. When these metrics are stagnant or going down, it’s cause for some concern, and the latest Steam and NetMarketShare data are two examples, as Neowin reports.

More: Windows 10’s popularity among Steam gamers drops back below 50 percent in January

First up is NetMarketShare, which tracks network traffic according to operating system, among other data points. By its measure, Windows 10 was essentially stagnant in February 2017, at 25.19 percent compared to 25.3 percent in January 2017. Windows 7, which remains Windows 10’s primary competitor, was at 48.41 percent in February compared to 47.2 percent in January. That means Windows 7’s share of the desktop operating market actually increased a bit, leaving Windows XP’s slight decrease as the only real positive for Microsoft.

NetMarketShare

Next is Steam’s monthly report, which tells us which operating systems are most popular among PC gamers using Valve’s popular gaming service. Although Windows 10 had previously crossed the 50 percent share value in December 2017, it fell back below it in January 2017 and further decreased to to 48.77 percent in February 2017. Once again, Windows 7 gained much of Windows 10’s decline, increasing to 36.81 percent. Microsoft can take some solace, however, in the knowledge that Windows remains the dominant PC gaming platform, with over 95 percent of all gamers running one version of Windows or another.

Windows 10 crossed the 400 million device threshold back in September 2016, and Microsoft hasn’t reported new numbers since. The company had already backed off of its goal of a billion Windows 10 machines by 2018, an indication that while Windows 10’s adoption rate has been good, it hasn’t been great.

All signs point to the release of the next major Windows 10 update, Creators Update, in April, which will bring enhanced 3D support, improved PC gaming, and a number of other improvements and new features. Perhaps that update will prod holdouts to make the switch to Windows 10, and if the PC market improves, new machines running Windows 10 will also help these numbers. In the meantime, Microsoft executives are likely left scratching their heads at what looks a lot like a pause in Windows 10’s growth.