The company’s reduced expectations come as it sharply curtails its ambitions in the smartphone business.

Share story

Microsoft is backing off its timeline for getting one billion devices running Windows 10, the latest casualty of the company’s sharply curtailed ambitions in the smartphone world.

The Redmond company last year set a goal of reaching one billion devices running the new operating system by mid-2018.

But the company acknowledged in a statement to ZDNet that it will “take longer” to reach that goal. Yusuf Mehdi, who runs the Windows marketing team, attributed that to “the focusing of our phone hardware business.”

It didn’t offer a new expected date. Microsoft last month said there were 350 million devices running Windows 10, a tally that analysts say predominantly involves personal computers.

Windows 10, released in July 2015, is designed to run with a similar look and feel across personal computers, tablets, smartphones and Microsoft’s Xbox One game consoles. The operating system was pitched as a way to broaden the company’s reach beyond its PC comfort zone.

When Terry Myerson, who leads Microsoft’s Windows and Devices Group, announced the one billion target, the company had just wrapped up a year in which it sold about 34 million Windows smartphones.

Since then, Microsoft has all but eliminated the smartphone hardware unit it acquired from Nokia in 2014, taking about $10 billion in write-downs and restructuring costs, laying off thousands, and shuttering or selling factories worldwide. The company’s smartphone sales totaled just 2.3 million in the first three months of 2016.

“It’s hard to know what exactly they were counting on,” said Steve Kleynhans, an analyst with Gartner. “At the time, they did have some pretty high expectations around Windows Phone.”

Weak PC sales, he said, also likely played a role in Microsoft’s changed expectations.