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.

Product Review

You won't buy Microsoft's Surface Hub 2S, but it could still change your life

The Microsoft Surface Hub 2S wants to change the way you collaborate at work. That’s a lofty goal most devices fail to achieve, but the unique Hub 2S could be an exception. And trust us – you’re going to want it.
Home Theater

Amazon’s free Spotify competitor is here. Just ask Alexa

Just ask Alexa to play your favorite song. Amazon has launched a free, ad-based music streaming service to compete with Spotify's free tier on its popular Echo devices, aiming to bolster subscriptions to Amazon Music Unlimited.
Mobile

Breaking news: Samsung responds to reported Galaxy Fold display issues

The Samsung Galaxy Fold has arrived, and it goes on sale soon. Folding out from a 4.6-inch display to a tablet-sized 7.3-inch display, this unique device has six cameras, two batteries, and special software to help you use multiple apps.
Gaming

Forza Street is the newly adopted name of free-to-play racer Miami Street

Microsoft Studios launched Miami Street in 2018 and the game is being rebranded as an official member of the Forza racing family. Street is free to play and joins Forza Motorsport and Forza Horizon as Microsoft-exclusive racing games.
Computing

Mueller report releases on CD, forces Congress to find PCs with disc drives

The Mueller report was released this week to Congress via CDs and congressional members had to find PCs with working disc drives to access the 400-page document. The redacted report was also released to the public on a website.
Gaming

Kick off your streaming career with our complete guide to Twitch broadcasting

Streaming games on Twitch for the first time can be daunting to say the least, but with a few simple steps, it's remarkably easy to do. Here's how to do so using a PC, Mac, Xbox One, or PlayStation 4 console.
Computing

Google Chrome will get a Reader Mode for distraction-free desktop browsing

If Google's testing of Reader Mode on the Chrome Canary desktop browser is successful, soon all Chrome users will gain access to this feature. Reader Mode strips away irrelevant content on a webpage for distraction-free browsing.
Computing

Former student uses USB Killer device to fry $58,000 worth of college’s PCs

A former student used a USB Killer device to short circuit more than $58,000 of computers at a private New York college earlier this year. The student pled guilty to the charges and sentencing is scheduled to begin in August.
Computing

AMD Ryzen CPU prices get slashed ahead of Ryzen 3000 release

AMD's Ryzen CPUs have had their prices slashed as we edge towards the release of their third generation. Whether you're a gamer or someone who needs multi-threaded performance, there's a deal for everyone with some heavy discounts to take…
Computing

The number pad on HP’s Chromebook 15 makes spreadsheet work a breeze

HP's Chromebook 15 comes with a 15.6-inch display, a metal keyboard deck with full-size keys, and a dedicated number pad, making it the second Chromebook model, following Acer's Chromebook 715, to be suited for spreadsheet work.
Computing

Worried about your online privacy? We tested the best VPN services

Browsing the web can be less secure than most users would hope. If that concerns you, a virtual private network — aka a VPN — is a decent solution. Check out a few of the best VPN services on the market.
Computing

Gaming on a laptop has never been better. These are your best options

Gaming desktops are powerful, but they tie you down to your desk. For those of us who prefer a more mobile experience, here are the best gaming laptops on the market, ranging from budget machines to maxed-out, wallet-emptying PCs.
Computing

Here's how you can download the best free music players for your Mac

Tired of your Mac's default music player? Take a look at our picks for the best free music players available for your Apple rig. Whether you're a casual listener or an audiophile, you're sure to find something that fits your needs here.
Computing

Want to make calls across the internet for less? Try these great VOIP services

Voice over IP services are getting more and more popular, but there are still a few that stand above the pack. In this guide, we'll give you a few options for the best VOIP services for home and business users.