There was a time shortly after the release of Windows 10 when Microsoft frequently released specific adoption numbers and trumpeted how quickly the then-novel free update was being adopted by Windows 7 and Windows 8 users. The company hasn’t repeated this strategy for Windows 11, so we’ll have to rely on third-party data to see how quickly people will adopt the new OS.
We pulled a few months of Steam hardware and software survey data and compared it to the months immediately following the release of Windows 10. This data is imperfect and inevitably a bit noisy – Steam users have to volunteer to submit the data – but the gap in acceptance is large enough that we can draw at least some conclusions.
Windows 11 was released to the public in October 2021 and Windows 10 was released in July 2015. In both cases, we used the Internet Wayback Machine to dig up seven months of data, including the month immediately prior to the release of each operating system. We’ve mapped the usage numbers for 64-bit versions of the operating systems (32-bit versions are grouped under “Other” along with versions like Vista and XP) and combined the numbers for Windows 8.1 and 8.0.
The result is that Steam users are migrating to Windows 11 about half as fast as they are to Windows 10. Six months after its release, Windows 10 was running on 31 percent of all Steam computers – almost one in three. As of March 2022, Windows 11 is running on almost 17 percent of Steam computers – about one in six. Three quarters of all Steam computers in 2022 are still running Windows 10.
It’s easy to interpret these results as an indictment of Windows 11, which caused some controversy with its relatively strict (and often poorly explained) security-oriented system requirements. At least something This slow adoption is caused by these system requirements – likely many of the PCs Steam surveyed tip Install Windows 11. This could be because users have an older, unsupported CPU or have disabled one or more of the required security features; Secure Boot and the firmware TPM module have been disabled by default on new motherboards for many years.
But there are other compelling explanations. Windows 11 adoption looks slow compared to Windows 10, but Windows 10 adoption has also been exceptionally good.
Windows 8 and 8.1 weren’t very popular, to say the least, and Windows 10 was framed as a response to (and a fix for) most of Windows 8’s UI changes. And people who were still running Windows 7 missed out on some of the nice quality of life additions and under-the-hood improvements that Windows 8 added.
You can see this pent-up demand in the jump between July 2015 and September 2015. In the first two months of Windows 10’s availability, Windows 8 bled users dry, falling from about 35 percent usage to 19 percent. Virtually all of those users — and a smaller but still notable subset of Windows 7 users — migrated to Windows 10. Windows 11 also received a decent early-adopter bump in November 2021, but its bimonthly gains were much smaller .
In contrast, Windows 11 was announced with little advance notice, replacing what users were told was the “last version of Windows”. Where Windows 10 replaced a new, unloved OS and a popular but aging OS, Windows 11 replaced a modern OS that nobody really complained about (Windows 10 ran at over 90 percent of it everything Steam computers in September 2021 – even Windows 7 in its heyday couldn’t boast of that kind of acceptance).
It’s also worth noting that Microsoft did‘t Try to recreate that initial push of adoption for Windows 11. After some turbulence after the early Windows 10 servicing updates, Microsoft began rolling out updates more systematically, starting with a small number of PCs and then gradually expanding availability as problems were discovered and ironed out. Windows 11 only entered “its final phase of availability” in February, ensuring that anyone with a compatible PC could get Windows 11 via Windows Update if they wanted to.