A New Era of the PC

By Panos Panay, Chief Product Officer, Windows + Devices

The last two years have had a profound and durable impact on how we live our lives, with the PC playing a more meaningful role than ever. Recently a friend reflected that he never would have expected that his eight-year-old son would become proficient in Teams and OneNote or that his seventy-two-year-old mother would become an Instacart convert. New behaviors that were born out of necessity have evolved into habits as people and organizations reevaluate their priorities through a new lens.

A new hybrid infrastructure now exists – across work, school, and life – enabling more flexibility in where and how people spend their time. And the PC is the hub. This is driving a new era of PC use, with a durable increase in the number of minutes spent and an increase in the number of PCs per household.

As we reflect on what’s driving this structural shift in PC demand and usage, we see three enduring trends: the rise in hybrid work and learning, shifts in entertainment habits and distribution models, and changing consumer habits for everyday tasks.

  • Shifts in entertainment habits and distribution models. The way content is produced, distributed, and consumed has changed dramatically – consider the fact that many blockbuster movies are being released in theaters and via streaming on the same day. Since the start of the pandemic 70% more people streamed content across Hulu, Netflix, and YouTube on Windows and monthly gaming minutes grew over 35%. There are now as many gamers as people who watch TV. More than ever people expect to be in control of what, when and where they watch, play, stream, and post – and increasingly it’s all happening on the PC.

  • Changing consumer habits for everyday tasks. Everyday tasks like grocery shopping, doctor’s appointments, going to the gym and even eating out have evolved with the rise of online ordering and delivery and virtual appointments and workouts. Telemedicine grew 3x and there was 500%+ growth in people seeking to Buy-Online-Pick-Up-In-Store vs. two years ago. In Windows, 2x as many people are using their PC to shop, spending 40% more-time shopping. Even as we resume some daily errands in person, people show no signs of giving up the convenience of online tasks entirely.

The PC market saw its biggest growth in a decade with Windows outpacing the market

The PC market saw the biggest growth in a decade. Global PC shipments surpassed 340 million in 2021, and according to Canalys that growth is 27% more than 2019. Windows now powers over 1.4 billion monthly active devices with overall time spent on Windows up 10% over pre pandemic levels. This quarter, Windows took share as through our customer insights research, we saw nearly 50% growth in people who plan to use their PC for creativity, gaming, or for work. We continue to see people across organizations, schools and homes recognize the benefits of a PC for every person.

To address ongoing supply challenges, for the launch of Windows 11 we mobilized an entire industry across silicon, OEMs, retailers, and other partners to ensure that as many people as possible who wanted a new PC at holiday could purchase one, including inventory for commercial and education customers to order.

Windows 11 is a catalyst for engagement and growth

Since the launch of Windows 11 in October, we have seen strong demand and preference for Windows 11 with people accepting the upgrade offer to Windows 11 at twice the rate we saw for Windows 10. Windows 11 also has the highest quality scores and product satisfaction of any version of Windows we’ve ever shipped. Product quality was a huge focus for the team, and we took a deliberate and phased approach to how we rolled out the upgrade. Today, we’re excited to share that the upgrade offer to Windows 11 is beginning to enter its final phase of availability putting us ahead of our initial plan of mid-2022. Windows 11 is driving increased engagement with people spending 40% more time on their Windows 11 PC vs Windows 10. The multitasking and productivity advantages of the Windows PC are being used more than ever with nearly half of Windows 11 users using the new Snap Layouts.

Windows 11 is also helping drive 3X more traffic to the newly redesigned Microsoft Store. Building on our open platform, we announced new Store policies last year to create greater economic opportunity for creators and developers, paving the way for not only new apps but new storefronts like Amazon and Epic Games. We’re energized by the feedback from both our customers and partners about the new Microsoft Store.

The Windows ecosystem is more vibrant than ever

One of the incredible benefits of the Windows platform is that it provides a broad and open ecosystem that offers people choice. Today, the ecosystem is stronger than it’s ever been across hardware, software, apps, peripherals and more.

Since launch, our OEM and silicon partners have introduced a vibrant offering of new Windows 11 PCs and Surface launched the largest update to their portfolio ever. Most recently at CES, our partners Acer, AMD, ASUS, Dell, HP, Intel, Lenovo, Qualcomm, and Razer, showcased incredible PC and silicon innovations and AMD and Lenovo announced the first available Microsoft Pluton device – enabling even more security and choice for our customers.

Building for what’s next

As a team, we feel an immense amount of gratitude and pride delivering a product that has increasingly become a part of people’s daily lives, and we know we are not done. As we look to the future, this year and beyond we will continue to invest in delivering Windows experiences that enrich and inspire people’s lives.

We continue to adapt Windows to meet the evolving needs of our customers. With Windows 365, we move Windows to the Cloud, where employees can securely stream their Windows experience on any device. With Windows 11 SE, schools have a simple, distraction-free environment catered to the unique needs of K-8 students.

Next month we’re bringing new experiences to Windows that include a public preview of how you can use AndroidTM apps on Windows 11 through the Microsoft Store and our partnerships with Amazon and Intel, taskbar improvements with call mute and unmute, easier window sharing, and bringing weather to the taskbar, plus the introduction of two new redesigned apps, Notepad and Media Player.

Windows will continue to be the backbone for innovation, a destination for gaming, creativity and exploration, and a gateway to the Metaverse.

2021 was an incredible year for Windows and in 2022 we will continue our journey to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more.

1 Devices that have a Microsoft Account (an MSA for Home edition) and have eligible releases and compatibility (See Windows Release Health for more information https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/release-health/)

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