With Windows 10, Microsoft wanted to get every Windows user on the same platform. Now, the opposite is happening. Just 6.6% of Windows 10 PCs have the October 2018 Update over three months after its release.

The Numbers

These numbers come courtesy of AdDuplex, which tracks Windows update market share, as spotted by Bleeping Computer. In December 2018:

  • 6.6% of Windows 10 PCs were running the October 2018 Update
  • 83.6% were running the April 2018 Update
  • 5.7% were running the Fall Creators Update
  • 1.8% were running the Creators Update
  • 1.4% were running the Anniversary Update
  • 0.5% were running the November Update
  • 0.3% were running the original Windows 10

In theory, the October 2018 Update is “widely available.” In practice, Microsoft isn’t confident enough to roll it out to the vast majority of Windows 10 PCs. There are still several “upgrade blocks” in place for various issues, including problems with specific Intel display drivers and older AMD Radeon GPUs.

Aside from the slow upgrade to the October 2018 Update, a whopping 9.7% of Windows 10 users are still using older versions than the April 2018 Update. At least this isn’t as bad as Android’s fragmentation problem.

Get Ready For Another Update in Three Months!

Windows 10 is on a six-month release cycle. That means the next release, codenamed 19H1, is happening in about three months. But Microsoft has only upgraded a small percentage of PCs to the current software.

So what will happen? Is Microsoft going to quickly rush out this update to more PCs over the next few months? Will Microsoft skip the October 2018 Update and upgrade everyone straight to 19H1? If so, how do we know people won’t encounter the same problems?

Perhaps Microsoft should admit the Windows development process isn’t working and rushing out a big update every six months is a bad idea. No one else does that—not Google with Android and not Apple with iOS or macOS, all of which receive one major update per year.

Yes, This Matters

Microsoft wanted to get all Windows users on the same platform to make things easier, but it made things more confusing. If you’re supporting someone and they have a problem, you can’t just ask them which version of Windows they’re running. You have to figure out which Windows 10 update they’re using, too.

Software developers can’t just count on Windows 10 users having the latest software. Windows 10’s October 2018 Update includes real-time ray tracing support with some new NVIDIA GPUs, but NVIDIA and game developers can’t just count on their users having that software installed. Users have to go out of their way to install the latest update, which Microsoft may not consider ready for their PCs.

Here’s the sad thing: This isn’t a huge deal because most software companies aren’t using those new Windows features! Rather than embrace the Store and the new UWP platform, most software developers are sticking with tried-and-tested Windows desktop software that will also run on older versions of Windows like Windows 7. In other words, Windows fragmentation doesn’t matter because new features don’t matter.

Really, it doesn’t matter if some exciting new feature like the Timeline is only available in the latest version of Windows 10. Developers aren’t using that stuff anyway.

Heck, even Microsoft’s employees aren’t creating apps that use Windows 10 features like “shared experiences.” So what’s the point of these constant updates to desperately rush out features no one uses?

Windows 10’s frantic upgrade process results in a less consistent platform. If Microsoft slowly released one stable update per year that wasn’t packed full of features no one cares about (like My People), Windows 10 would be a more stable platform and developers could rely on users having the current software.

Microsoft uses names like “October 2018 Update,” but these names don’t appear anywhere in Windows 10. Windows 10 only uses version numbers like “1809,” which makes things confusing for users.

Windows 7 Can’t Run Windows 10 Apps

Even if Windows 10 were successful at getting all Windows 10 users running the same software, it would still fragment the Windows platform because any new UWP (Store) apps would only run on Windows 10. If developers bought in, they’d have to create one application for Windows 10 and another for Windows 7.

Is it any wonder developers haven’t gotten on board and are sticking with desktop applications that also run on Windows 7?

Worse yet, Windows 10’s app platform is even different from the one found in Windows 8! It’s like Microsoft is trying to make this as difficult as possible for developers.

Of course, none of this is about disk fragmentation, which can slow down file access times. It’s about an increasing number of different versions of Windows out there, making things more complicated.

You don’t need to defragment modern Windows systems. They’ll automatically defragment themselves if you have a mechanical hard drive that needs it. So at least disk fragmentation has improved.

Image Credit: MrVander/Shutterstock.com.

Profile Photo for Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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