Microsoft has pushed 2017's final Windows 10 feature upgrade to customers faster than it did the year's first revision, according to data from a Windows app ad network.
Data from AdDuplex, a Lithuanian company whose technology is embedded in thousands of Windows apps, showed that October's Fall Creators Update (FCU) had been installed on about 54% of all measured Windows 10 personal computers by Dec. 20.
Windows 10's FCU, also known as version 1709 in Microsoft's yymm numeric format, launched Oct. 17. In the nine weeks from then until Dec. 20, AdDuplex reported, more than half - 53.6% to be exact - had upgraded to FCU from an earlier version.
Other editions still proliferated on customers' PCs. The April feature upgrade, dubbed Creators Update and labeled 1703, powered 34%. Even older versions, including 2016's only feature upgrade, the Anniversary Update (1607) and the soon-to-be-retired-from-support 1511, accounted for 11% and 1%, respectively.
The quick shift to FCU stood in contrast to the lethargic transition to Creators Update earlier in 2017. Eleven weeks after Creators Update's April 5 debut, AdDuplex measured its share of all Windows 10 PCs at just 36%, barely more than a third. Its predecessor, the Anniversary Update, or 1607, continued to power the majority of Windows 10 PCs (59%) at the time.
Microsoft controls the pace of Windows 10 feature upgrades adoption, at least in the opening months after each release. While some users do actively seek out the upgrade to download and install, most wait for Microsoft to offer it to their PC, at which point the rest is usually automatic.
The Redmond, Wash. developer has been clear that it does not open the upgrade spigot all the way at the start. Instead, it provides each feature upgrade to an increasing number of PCs as time ticks by, beginning with the subset of the newest systems that theoretically should have the fewest problems installing the code. The staged-release model - while not new, not even Microsoft's invention - lets developers gauge installation success, correct any problems, and then continue the rolling release.
That the FCU was handed to customers faster than its predecessor could be explained several ways.
After five releases, Microsoft may have found its legs, able finally to get a majority of its Windows 10 users onto a feature upgrade in little more than two months, and thus prove that it can execute its rapid development and release strategy. Or the FCU was simply in better shape at launch than the spring's Creators Update; the contrasting timelines reflected the better-quality FCU.
Or Microsoft stepped on the rollout gas with the FCU, damn the torpedoes, because it had been criticized for the slower pace of earlier in 2017.
It was unclear how AdDuplex's data skewed, but it probably leans heavily toward consumers, for two reasons. First, many enterprises limit or even bar Microsoft Store apps - AdDuplex's ad network operates only within those apps - from their workers' PCs. And second, businesses that have transitioned from Windows 7 to Windows 10 do not install the latter's feature upgrades until at least four months after they begin reaching consumer personal computers.
The next Windows feature upgrade is set to appear in March, according to Microsoft's tentative schedule.