Why Did Windows 10 Flop?

When Windows 10 was first released by Microsoft, the company was so keen on expanding its userbase and doing away with older versions that it came as a free upgrade for Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8.1 users. Despite all of these efforts, there are still many people (likely including you or someone you know) who continue to rely on older versions. The market share for the newest version of the operating system for the majority of 2016 has hovered around seventeen percent, while Windows 7’s market share still gobbles around half of all systems.

This isn’t necessarily a good sign, obviously, but it also leaves us with one very important question: how did things get this way?

We’re Experiencing the XP-To-Vista Phenomenon All Over Again


Windows XP was arguably one of the most successful iterations of its family with roughly ten percent of the entire world still hooked up to it in 2016 (according to the NetMarketShare stat linked earlier) despite Microsoft refusing to continue supporting the system with updates since April 2014. Attempts have been made to plug the security holes the OS had and Vista came out with in early 2007.

Because of its clunky interface and resource-hungry applications, people continued to favor the operating system that Microsoft had released six years prior. Then along came Windows 7 in 2009, and many of the issues plaguing Vista have been solved, reaching new heights in popularity with a sleeker graphical interface and more organized buttons and gizmos. It was user-friendly, had a more temperate approach to memory usage, and played well with older programs that had been designed for XP. It was, in essence, the worthy successor.

The release of Windows 8 was more of a “let’s try something new because why not?” approach. Its impact created lots of controversy with the removal (and subsequent replacement in 8.1) of the Start menu and a more touch-friendly interface (on systems in which the vast majority of screens did not have touch capability). As of October 2016, this OS’ market share is below XP’s (by that time, XP was 15 years old).

Windows 10 was an attempt to fix this and herald a new era that would name a successor to 7. Alas, the main attitude of users was “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Windows 7 continued to gain market share despite every effort possible to wave the newer version in front of everyone with a screen.

Then Came The Rumors and Controversies


Windows 8 wasn’t the only attempt at a successor that was mired in controversy. From rumors of spying to actual founded accusations of intense data mining on its users, Microsoft had a lot to answer for when reporters began prying into Windows 10 with a more sober perspective.

The controversies didn’t end there. In an attempt to push installation of the operating system further than a simple “we’re offering it for free,” the update that would install the new version on systems running Windows 7 and 8 went from being optional to receiving a “recommended” status. Although it may be argued that updates can be rejected, default systems would often install recommended updates automatically. Some people have restarted their systems only to later discover that Windows 10 was installed without their permission.

These controversies have ultimately demolished the popularity of an operating system that would have otherwise been promising. Even more troubling for Microsoft is the fact that Linux is becoming an easier alternative for mainstream users to adapt to. The strengthening of this operating system could cause long-term problems if Microsoft doesn’t adapt quickly to the demands of their userbase. There’s a reason they keep using Windows 7 just as there is an equally relevant reason why an increasing number of people are just kicking the franchise out of their systems and installing Linux distributions (which compose roughly seven percent of 2016’s market share).

What if Microsoft decided to stop support for Windows 7 someday? Would you switch to the next best thing or abandon the OS entirely and go for a Mac or Linux setup? Tell us in a comment!

Miguel Leiva-Gomez Miguel Leiva-Gomez

Miguel has been a business growth and technology expert for more than a decade and has written software for even longer. From his little castle in Romania, he presents cold and analytical perspectives to things that affect the tech world.


  1. I’m allready abandoning ship. I tried all of the OS from m$ since 95 and I have never been happier with the freedom and ease of use now I am getting used to linux mint. It is a different approach to computing, as I experience it, and not suited for everybody though.

  2. I have been using Linux for years as well as Windows.(7home). I am not a GURU but I know enough how to install, and use with most of the things I need to do.Linux Mint is my first choice for an OS at this point.I have installed it on my Daughters older desktop as well as my Neighbors tower.Both have in a few days mastered it enough to do what they need.What made it easy for them was the Chrome browser and or Chromium the open source browser.It imported all their Chrome /Windows bookmarks and since both used Yahoo or another web mail found no dificulity in E mail. In addition Libre Office program was able to see all their older documents. As a diversion I installed a few games when you really just want to get away from normal computing. Every so often they get free security updates which just requires them to remember their password and click yes. It would be important for most Windows users to copy their “user folder” to secure and save their documents and pictures to an appropiate large flash drive.These can later be copied back to the appropiate Linux folder.
    If I gauge most folks correctly,there is a fear of trying to master a strange new operating system. It only took a couple of days for my neighbor and daughter to master it.

  3. Because of all the stories I’ve found on here on this site about Microsoft spying and with people being able to hack windows systems and having to run anti virus and anti spywear programs and having to constantly clean temp files in Windows so that no nasties end up crashing my OS I ended up switching to Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. And the only problem at the beginning was getting my wireless chip working and it losing my Sudo password I managed to find online fixes for both issues and now I have a trouble free OS. No more Anti virus scans and malware scans and no more worrying about getting hacked. Linux is so freeing compared to Windows OS’S

  4. I abandoned ship long ago, I use Linux since April 2008 and loving it more and more. The computer does what I tell it to do, not what MS wants it to do. I use the CPU for my programs, not for anti-virus programs, anti-adware programs, anti-malware programs. Updates come and report they are there. Then they just sit patiently in the corner waiting for me to start the update process. Not like in Windows where you get a message you need to reboot for updates to be installed and configured which takes like hours to complete.
    With 10 MS went too far. It is in fact one big spyware software, not even recognized by its own Defender program. Imagine the quality of that program. Yes, I talk about programs and not about apps because I use programs, not apps. Just an other attempt from a big company like MS to be hip.
    No, I have had it completely with MS and there inferior software crap. Never again.

  5. I liked XP so much that I could have stayed with it, my entire life, and I am now 80 years old. Simply stated, Windows 7 was more of a very good thing–a keeper. I switched to Win 10 simply so I could get perpetual updates, and it is a very severe let down. I am fortunate, my family is nice and they give me every new MS distro as it comes along–great family! I contacted Dell Computer Manufacturers, and got one of their therapeutic contracts–if it breaks, they fix it–gratis. Dell and I wrangled with Win 10 for a couple of months and then they pretty forcibly suggested a couple of shareware applications, and I decided to pay for them. Now Win 10 works–sorta, it works worse than XP, not to mention Win 7, but it works. Pardon my french but G.D., I was supposed to get a free distro from MS, and it has cost me a couple of hundred bucks to get a miserable experience. MS f–d up.

  6. Robb, nothing in life is free, especially not when you deal with a company which only has $-signs in its eyes. If you don’t mind me saying so, on your age you should have known that. Love your French, btw.

  7. I have had to use Unix/Linux for development on and off since the early 80’s and it is always a struggle to get past the arrogant and half-baked not-invented-here philosophy that is endemic to the Unix/Linux world. C shell, Korne shell, Bourne shell, whatever the frickin’ day of the week it is shell is the epitome of the not-invented-here philosophy. Instead of fixing whatever is perceived to be wrong or missing from one shell, the obvious feeling is I can do it better and then on and on until we are overrun with shells. Why? And they never get rid of anything so Unix/Linux is carrying around all this useless baggage. The best example of that and the one Unix holdover that keeps me shaking my head in disgust is vi. A pathetic and completely none-standard line editor from the 70’s that has been masquerading as a text editor for almost half a century now with the most obtuse and non-standard command mapping ever. For those of you that do not know you have to change modes between command-mode and edit-mode and God help you if you are in a hurry and forget what mode you are in because the wrong command in the wrong mode can wipe out hours of work. And this piece of dog doo is the default editor in every distribution, seriously?

    And proponents still wonder why Linux hasn’t got the desktop acceptance that Windows has especially as they have added all these GUI front ends. You can put all the lipstick and makeup you want on a pig but it is still a pig! The Open Office equivalents still cannot get it right. Look at where the most used commands under the File pulldown menu are located. In Micro$oft Office they are right at the top of the pulldown where they can be accessed relatively quickly but in the Open Office equivalents they are at the bottom of the pulldown and so force the user to have to waste time scrolling to the bottom of the pulldown each time. That is just poor user interface design! And yes I know that so-called power users don’t use GUI pulldowns anyway as they will just use the equivalent Cntrl- commands but the power users aren’t the ones that get the software accepted into office desktop environments. For that reason Windows will be here for a lot longer yet and I have a feeling that Windows 7 will be around for quite a while yet as well.

  8. THe only reason my laptop has Windows & is because it was given to me by my School District. All of the machines in my classroom run Debian Linux 8, and my students are totally happy with that! I teach Software development, and the truth is, Windows is NOT designed with developer in mind!

  9. I has a Windows 7 computer and loved it. But when the computer developed a fault, HP offered a replacement, which I had little choice but to accept – but the replacement came with Windows 8 on it and I HATED it! Even so, when Microsoft offered and then started to force the ‘free’ Windows 10 upgrade on us, I actively blocked it for ages.

    However, I eventually succumbed and once I had installed Classic Shell, I didn’t mind it. In fact, although I still mourn the loss of Windows 7, I prefer Windows 10 to Windows 8 – despite having difficult-to-solve (but possible to solve) problems with my sound card and speakers every time I reset or refresh my PC!

  10. I “abandoned” Windows ten years ago when I no longer was forced to use it in the workplace by ham handed policy and persecution. Have been happy and productive with Linux ever since. Much more so than with any version of Windows except WFWG and W2K. It amazes me that Microsoft never learned the Windows Explorer lesson: they had a Lanchestrian monopoly in the browser marketplace and lost it by totally ignoring users’ desires. Then they repeat the same mistake with their tile GUI. Of course they are in good company, Mozilla and Canonical have repeated both of these mistakes. In a sense it’s a variant on Potemkin’s swindle; these companies seem unable to divorce the importance of the integrity of the core from the frivolity of the eye candy.

  11. I dual boot Windows 10 and Linux (Manjaro-Xfce) currently. The more I use Windows 10 the more tolerable it becomes. I’ve tried many Linux distros. My default fall back is Mint! The great thing about Linux is that it’s free and if you don’t like one distro you can change for another. I still find Linux “not quite ready ” for prime time but it gets better all the time, if you make a little effort. Bottom line if Windows becomes unbearable you can switch to linux and relax.

  12. I made the switch to Linux in 2003. I had had enough of the BSOD’s I was getting using Windows XP, and then one day? I lost EVERYTHING on my machine due to a virus, EVEN THOUGH I HAD VIRUS PROTECTION INSTALLED! I was done with Microsoft, period. I started looking around and was slowly moving towards Apple’s products (Thank GOD I never did!) I saw a website touting a “free” OS that was “safer’ than windows and looked into it. That site was full of linked sites and I downloaded Fedora Linux. I struggled with it at first, to the point where I almost gave up. But when I thought of what happened with the XP machine? I just got more determined to NEVER let that kind of thing happen again! It took a LOT of tries, but I finally got Fedora installed. After “learning” the GNome desktop environment? I think I will never use another Microsoft product…EVER again! I have everything I need in Linux and since I’m not a graphics designer, GIMP works just fine…nor do I need CAD or anything else from a niche occupation. I’m studying to become a Linux SysAdmin and a Programmer and I have the tools I need for those. So Goodbye Windows regardless of WHICH version you are!

  13. On another note, I’m also responsible for “turning” others away from Windows as well, my sister…her husband and their oldest son, my two younger brothers, of course dear old Mom, and various uncles, aunts, cousins etc. As far as I see it?…the more people I can introduce to Linux the quicker I can “free” them from MS’s ridiculous circus act that is Windows. And before anyone come along ere to try and “defend” Windows, understand your entire argument will fall on deaf ears. I’ve been burned by them more than once, and it will never happen again. SO save yer breath.

  14. XP – LOVED it. I might get a MAC next time. When my computer w/ XP broke, I had to get a computer w/ Windows 8; Then had to upgrade to Windows 10. I HATE both 8 & 10 because after it updates: Sometimes it gets slower and locks up & I have to pull the battery out. When my computer was still under Warranty I had to send it back 2 separate times to get reset because it locked up and wouldn’t run. I hated Vista too. I’m trying to remove automatic updates & Cortana (which I never used) but am having problems doing so.

  15. I was delighted to not only find an Article that I agree with on this Topic, but comments as well. I’ve been recommending Linux to people for roughly 15 years. Were it not for the need to keep up with Microsoft Bloatware in the Office Environment, I would have completely abandoned it nearly 2 decades ago with that long forgotten Travest known as “Windows ME”.

    The ONLY problem I have EVER had with ANY version of Linux is UBUNTU not allowing me to log in after approximately one Month of use with it. (I tried ALL the recommendations, nothing worked, even a clean install…).

    After the diabolical Privacy Invading WIndows 10 came out, we as a family (and a Non-Profit) decided that despite MS’s dominance in the Work Place we will still abandon what little Microsoft Software we have left with any future Machines. Microsoft doesn’t want to listen to its client base? Then let it die.

  16. Hi, started using Linux Ubuntu with version 12.04, then I had a seamless perfect upgrade to version 14.04 then another perfect upgrade to 16.04, please note that this does not happen with Microsoft windows systems. A friend of mine asked me to help him upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10, to put it mildly it was a dreadful experience and despite the efforts of MS technical support trying to fix the problems via remote access, they failed.He has had to re-install Windows 7. I believe for the home user, Ubuntu Linux is more than capable. I have to say that all the people that I have introduced to Ubuntu Linux, they were all surprised as to how easy it is to use.

  17. I would totally leave Microsoft. as a matter of fact this article has prompted me to download the Linux os so I can start getting used to it on a test machine b4 installing it to my primary rig.

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