(Image: PCMag)Windows 11’s rollout has been somewhat rocky due to its incompatibility with older hardware. That hasn’t prevented a lot of early adopters from “upgrading” off Windows 10, despite a lack of must-have features in its successor. For example, in January Microsoft reported that the adoption rate for Windows 11 was twice the rate of Windows 10. However, new figures suggest Windows 11’s adoption rate is slowing to a crawl.
The numbers on Windows 11 usage were posted by AdDuplex, which offers a cross-promotion advertising app for the Microsoft store. It analyzed 5,000 PCs with the app installed in able to figure out which version of Windows they were running. Overall, the company’s figures show just 19.4 percent of users were running Windows 11. By itself, that’s not too shabby. However, it represents a mere .01 percent change from the month before. Even more telling is in the period from November 2021 to January 2022, the same company reported Windows 11’s adoption had doubled to 16.1 percent. Also, that doubling number was based on an analysis of 60,000 PCs, as opposed to 5,000 it used in its latest analysis. That means from November until April, it’s gone from adding eight percent of users a month, to three percent, to almost nothing.
Though it’s easy to assume these numbers indicate flagging interest in Windows 11, there’s clearly several factors at work here. The hardware requirements are likely a key culprit in slowing down adoption. Windows 11 requires a Trusted Platform Module version 2.0 (TPM) on the motherboard and a compatible CPU for its security features. These include Windows Hello and BitLocker drive encryption. You must also have a motherboard that offers UEFI Secure Boot. Microsoft says that should allow any PC made within the past five years to be eligible. However, that still leaves millions of computers out of the eligibility pool. It’s also rolling out the “upgrade” in waves to Windows 10 users, so not everyone is even aware of it as an upgrade. Sure, people could manually figure out how to upgrade, but that’s a high bar for a lot of users. They just expect to see it presented to them instead of having to find it on their own. Also, there are probably a lot of Windows users out there who don’t even know Windows 11 exists.
Another big issue is that according to network performance company Riverbend, a third of PCs used for work aren’t compatible. The analysis, provided by TechRadar, stated that millions of PCs will require upgrades, and some will need to be replaced entirely. Riverbend states that 19.45 percent need more storage, and 11 percent need a TPM 2.0. Additionally, another eight percent will need a UEFI motherboard, with 12 percent needing to be tossed in the bin for a new machine.
The Steam Hardware Survey backs up the idea that consumer Windows 11 uptake has slowed dramatically. In January, 14.1 percent of users were using Windows 11. In March, that number has risen to just 17.44 percent. The difference in uptake between consumer PCs in general and Steam users specifically may be explained by the fact that gamers are more likely to adopt the latest operating systems and software. We saw this pattern with Windows 10 as well; gamers adopted Windows 10 faster than the general population. This was also true during the 32-bit / 64-bit transition.
One additional potential explanation for the sales drop is seasonality. While the market has been very healthy for the past two years, PC sales undoubtedly fell in Q1, in line with general yearly trends. If this is the case, adoption should begin to pick up in Q2 and rise throughout the year.