Microsoft has said for years that its customer base includes 1.5 billion Windows users. Among pundits and analysts, this number is often treated as authoritative and precise. It is not.
It is, rather, an aspirational bit of rhetoric, called forth when Microsoft’s senior management wants to emphasize the sheer size of the Windows customer base to motivate its workforce or rev up its partners. Satya Nadella’s invocation at a Windows 10 event in January 2016 is a perfect example of the genre: