The latest tracking stats for Windows phones have been released by advertising network AdDuplex, which monitors usage across its network to create a detailed monthly breakdown of Microsoft's mobile ecosystem. Each month, the reports capture a snapshot of worldwide usage across one 24-hour period - in this case, March 18, 2016.
One of the most notable takeaways from this month's report is that Windows 10 Mobile usage has increased considerably compared with last month. In February, the newest version of the OS was on 5.3% of active Windows handsets; that has since increased to 7.7%, and as AdDuplex points out, it appears that some of this growth may have come from new devices.
Windows Phone 8.1 shrank by 0.6% month-over-month, and this is the only older version of the OS with an official upgrade path to Windows 10 Mobile (Older Windows Phone 8 handsets can upgrade to WP8.1 and then Windows 10 Mobile by installing preview builds - but this is unlikely to account for a significant number of installations). Given that Windows Phone 7.x also fell by 0.6%, and Windows Phone 8 by 1.1%, it seems that new devices running Windows 10 Mobile would have to account for at least some of the 2.4% increase amassed by the newest version.
AdDuplex also notes that just over half (50.4%) of all active Windows handsets are capable of running Windows 10 Mobile. So far, around 15% of devices that can run the newest version are already doing so (this includes devices running both preview builds, and the first official upgrades, which began on the day before AdDuplex's monthly survey).
Microsoft's share of the Windows phone pie has been hovering around 97% for some time now, although in recent months, its share has been declining very slightly (by fractions of a percentage point). This month, however, its share has actually increased - albeit by only 0.34%.
Ever since dropping its OS licensing fees for Windows phones in 2014, Microsoft has been hoping that its partners' devices would account for a larger chunk of device sales. It reinforced that strategy last year by announcing a massive reduction in its own line of handsets, with just four Lumia devices in its Windows 10 Mobile line-up.
However, this strategy isn't yet yielding the desired results for the company - its largest Windows handset partners are HTC (1.05%), Samsung (0.52%) and Huawei (0.26%), but none of their devices will be upgradable to Windows 10 Mobile, and none of these manufacturers have announced new Windows hardware for over 18 months, so their share of the platform will surely continue to decrease as users replace their older handsets. Along with BLU on 0.24%, Microsoft's dozens of other partners together account for just 0.72% of active devices, falling by 0.07% since last month.
Globally, the Lumia 520 remains the most popular Windows handset in use, accounting for 12.1% of active devices. But having fallen 0.5% since last month, and with the Lumia 535 now on 12%, it seems inevitable that it will soon be toppled from the top spot.
The impressive Lumia 640 saw the biggest gains compared with February, with 0.9% growth pushing it into fourth place with 7.3%, past the Lumia 635 (now on 6.7%), but still well behind the Lumia 630 (8.8%).
In the US, the Lumia 635 is still the most-used device, despite falling 1.7% month-over-month to 27.2%. Huge discounts on the Lumia 640 - which have seen the device being sold for just $29 with no contract over the last few weeks - fuelled a significant increase in its share, rising 3.6% to 24.2%.
In Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg), the Lumia 640 is already the number one device in the Windows hardware ecosystem on 11.5%, while the flagship-class Lumia 930 is in second place on 8.2%. The oldest device still in the top 10 is the Lumia 920 on 3.6%, while the Lumia 520 is in seventh place on 5.6%.
And in Nokia's home market of Finland, the Lumia 930 flagship is still the most-used Windows handset on 8.5%. Compared with other markets, there are far more higher-end devices in the top 10 in Finland; the Lumia 920 (6.7%), Lumia 925 (7.2%) and Lumia 1020 (5.3%) are all still among the most-used Windows devices there.
Finland's numbers are in stark contrast to a more price-sensitive market like Mexico, where there are no high-end phones in the top 10, and the ageing Lumia 520 - now three years old - is still the most popular Windows handset, with more than twice as many units (20.8%) in use as the much newer Lumia 435 (10.3%), which remains Microsoft's most affordable Windows phone in Mexico.
You can check out a deeper overview of this month's AdDuplex report here, including a detailed breakdown of handset usage in Brazil and Russia. AdDuplex will publish its full monthly report tomorrow on its website.