Everyone’s waiting for Windows 10 to die

The Windows Update screen in Windows 10.

The PC market had a rough 2023 but is experiencing a resurgence fueled by a combination of factors, most notably by the end-of-life for Windows 10.

As the IT industry analytics company Canalys reports, transitioning to the latest Windows 11 PCs continues to be underway and having an effect on new PC sales. The U.S. PC market grew 5% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2024, and that number is expected to grow to 78 million units, or 8%, by 2025.

As per the report, Greg Davis, an analyst at Canalys, says, “Continued discounting after the holiday season boosted consumer demand for PCs into the start of 2024. However, the first quarter also saw an uptick in commercial sector performance. Shipment growth in small and medium businesses indicates the anticipated refresh brought by the Windows 10 end-of-life is underway. With enterprise customers set to follow suit, the near-term outlook for the market remains highly positive.”

Graph of US PC shipment showing an increase in sales.

Put another way, the industry is counting on the end of Windows 10 to support a large boost in PC upgrades, which it’s already seeing the fruit of with this new growth. Windows 10 will reach its end-of-life on October 14, 2025, and although security updates will still be available for Windows 10 beyond then, they will come at a price. Moreover, there may be one final feature update, but Microsoft has announced that it’s more or less done with bringing any significant changes to Windows 10.

The cause of the growth isn’t only about Windows 10, though. It’s also occurring amid the unveiling of lots of new chips, including Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X series, AMD’s Ryzen 9000 series, and Intel’s upcoming Lunar Lake. The enhanced efficiency claims and embrace of AI features are also being counted on to motivate users to contribute to more growth into next year. Microsoft’s Copilot+ PC program stands at the center of this momentum, and the first laptops under that banner are already available to buy.

Whether this all ends up living up to the industry’s high hopes is to be determined, but the growth in the first quarter of 2024 so far is certainly good news.