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Windows 10 hits 300 million active devices, but the free upgrade window slams shut soon

Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Windows and Devices Group, said on Thursday that Windows 10 is now running on 300 million active devices globally after launching back in July 2015. The company is seeing a significant growth in the use of Windows 10 in schools, businesses, and homes, and is further promoting adoption of Microsoft Edge, Cortana, Groove Music, and similar services.

For instance, Mehdi said in a blog post that Windows 10 users spent more than 63 billion minutes in the built-in Microsoft Edge browser through March, a 50-percent growth in minutes during compared to the last quarter of 2015. However, the baked-in browser still faces stiff competition from Google Chrome, which dominated the browser market with a 69.9-percent share in March, followed by Mozilla’s Firefox with a 17.8-percent share in the same month.

On the Cortana front, Microsoft’s virtual personal assistant has answered more than six billion questions since July 2015. Cortana resides on the taskbar, wanting users to “ask me anything” while parked next to the Start button. For the record, Cortana is also available on Windows Phone, Android, and Apple’s iOS platform, so that number likely stems from all Cortana-based products and not just Windows 10.

Microsoft is also seeing an increase in gaming on Windows 10, claiming that the company has witnessed more than nine billion hours of gameplay on the new platform since its launch. That number will undoubtedly see a huge increase given that Windows 10 is home to DirectX 12, an advanced suite of gaming technologies that’s seeing a rapid adoption rate in the developer community. The Windows Store itself is even graduating to more hardcore offerings like Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Killer Instinct, Quantum Break, and Rise of the Tomb Raider.

Speaking of the Windows Store, Mehdi said that the store is growing each day with new Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps, which not only take advantage of Windows 10 features, but works across most if not all Windows 10 devices. He noted that Facebook, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger offer UWP apps while Vine, Hulu, Netflix, and Twitter have released updated apps using the UWP platform.

Finally, he noted that the baked-in apps for Windows 10, namely Photos, Groove Music, and Movies & TV, are reeling in millions of active customers each month. Over 144 million customers are using the Windows 10 Photos app, which is rather creepy when you consider that Microsoft knows when you’re looking at pictures on its operating system. In fact, the notion that Microsoft knows what apps its Windows 10 customers are using is a little unsettling.

At any rate, Microsoft is reportedly working on improving its Windows 10 services, and is seeing more and more improvements each month. The company just released a big update back in November, and plans to do it again this summer with the Anniversary Update release. The good news here is that all of these innovations are free for Windows 10 customers.

If you haven’t upgraded to Windows 10 yet, the clock to get the new operating system for free is ticking. Customers can still freely move up the Windows ladder until July 29, 2016. After that, the full version of Windows 10 Home will cost a not-too-shabby $120 for each device while the Pro version will cost $200, both of which can be purchased from Microsoft online in a downloadable or USB edition.

The rapid growth of Windows 10 should not be surprising. Microsoft is not only offering the upgrade for free, but practically pushing it down its customers’ throats. Still, Windows 10 is a great platform, and Microsoft should be proud of its accomplishments thus far. We’re eager to see what surprises (that we don’t already know about) the Anniversary Update will bring when it arrives in the summer.

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