Windows by the numbers: Windows 10 passes the 50% share mark


Windows 10 in May added another 1.6 percentage points to its user share total, finally pushing the four-year-old operating system over the 50% mark.

According to California web analytics vendor Net Applications, Windows 10’s share of the PCs running Windows reached 51.8% last month, the first time the OS accounted for a majority. Windows 10’s May growth put it at 45.7% of all personal computers. (The first number was significantly larger than the second because Windows does not power every personal computer; in May, Windows ran 88.3% of the world’s machines. All but a tiny fraction of the rest ran macOS, Linux or Chrome OS.)

May’s gain was only about half that in March, when Windows 10 went on a binge and added a record 3.3 points, the most since August 2015 when Microsoft was offering a free upgrade for consumers. But it was the sixth in the past year where the increase was of one or more percentage points.

Meanwhile, Windows 7 fell one point in May, sliding to 35.4% of all PCs and 40.1% of those running Windows. The dead-OS-walking Windows XP – which recently was patched by Microsoft, five years after its official retirement – also shed some weight, dispensing with two-tenths of a point, ending at 2.2% of all PCs and 2.5% of the PCs powered by Windows.

Windows 8 and 8.1 – Computerworld tosses both in the same bucket – got with the program, too, as between them they lost two-tenths of a percentage point, dwindling to 4.8% of all personal computers and 5.4% of those running Windows.

In general terms, Windows played out May as it should have, with the newest edition gaining ground and all its ancestors giving up share.

Windows 10’s growth accelerates

The prognosis for Windows 7’s retirement, though, remained grimmer than Microsoft would prefer.

Computerworld‘s new prognostication – based, as always, on the operating system’s 12-month average movement – has Windows 7 at a too-high 35.3% of all Windows machines at the end of January. (The 2009 OS will exit support Jan. 14, 2020.) That’s in line with forecasts of the last several months and a figure unlikely to budge; as the number of months before retirement shrinks, it becomes increasingly difficult to move the forecast needle.

Meanwhile, Windows 10 should stand at about 60% of all Windows when 7 drops off support. A year later – January 2021 – the two will be at 28% (Windows 7) and 73% (Windows 10).

Those numbers for Windows 7 – 35% in 2020 and 28% in 2021 – are higher than the same-time figures for Windows XP when and after it got kicked to the curb. That means millions of machines will be running an unpatched Windows 7 OS come February. How many millions? Our estimate: 530 million, give or take, based on the well-established rule of thumb that around 1.5 billion personal computers run Windows worldwide.

That’s a lot of potential exploit-ready targets.

There are signs that the switch from Windows 7 to Windows 10 has accelerated, as one would expect as the deadline approaches and customers get serious about migrations.

The average per-month gain over the past three months has been 1.8 percentage points, which was 30% higher than the 1.3 points averaged over the last six months. The six-month average, meanwhile, was 27% greater than the nine-tenths of a point during the preceding 12 months.

Elsewhere in Net Applications’ May numbers, the overall user share of macOS slid by a tenth of a percentage point to 9.3%, the lowest mark for Apple’s desktop operating system in nearly a year. Linux’s user share also dipped by a tenth of a point to 1.9% while Google’s Chrome OS edged up to 0.4%.

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Windows by the numbers: April 2019

Windows 7 will remain a widely-used OS for at least the next half-decade if its predecessor Windows XP serves as even a crude yardstick.

Five years ago last month, Microsoft moved Windows XP onto its do-not-support list. The company retired the well-worn operating system on April 8, 2014. Yet even now, 60 months after the milestone, more than 40 million PCs worldwide rely on the now-ancient software.

Windows XP’s post-retirement trajectory can be instructive when forecasting what may happen to Windows 7 when it falls off the support list in eight months, on Jan. 14, 2020.

Windows 7: Going, going … and still going

Windows XP exited support with a user share – the measurement of personal computer operating systems’ usage as defined by analytics vendor Net Application – of approximately 29% of all Windows.

That puts Windows 7 in a spot, what with the current Computerworld prediction that at the end of January 2020, Windows 7 will account for just over 35% of all Windows. (That number has fluctuated over the last two years between the low and high 30s, depending on the rate of Windows 7’s user share decline over the preceding 12 months.)

Not surprisingly, Windows XP saw its largest after-retirement drop-off in the first year after Microsoft pulled the support plug. During that span, XP’s share of all Windows fell from 29% to 17.5%, representing a 65.5% decrease. This large wave was almost certainly composed of the conscientious who for one reason or another had missed the deadline but knew they needed a newer OS if they were to keep getting security updates.

(Net Applications’ data seemed to confirm that suspicion, since XP’s decline from April 2014 to April 2015 was front-loaded; the first six months of that year accounted for 60% of the 12-month total.)

Over the next three years, Windows XP’s share of all Windows dropped by about 50% each year. From April 2015 to April 2016, for example, Windows XP slid from 17.5% to 12%, a 5.5-percentage point fall and a decline of 46%. The next two years each saw a decline of 56%. Think of those years as the gradual surrender of XP users who had felt no great pressure to upgrade. They remained sanguine about running an outdated OS, security updates be damned, but eventually left the 2001 XP behind or dumped PCs altogether.

However, in the fifth year after Windows XP’s retirement – April 2018 to April 2019 – XP’s rate of decline accelerated to nearly 77% as its share of all Windows plunged from 5% to 2.8%. The faster fall could represent last-ditch users who finally woke up to the fact that their OS was not only old, but Microsoft’s Methuselah.

If Windows 7 follows Windows XP, here are the numbers

No two operating systems are alike. If they were, Windows Vista – the intended replacement for Windows XP – would have a user share larger than two-tenths of a percentage point. (That’s about one-thirteenth as much as XP, from an OS five years younger.) And Windows 8, theoretically 7’s successor, would account for more than just 5.7% of all Windows.

But if Windows 7 does end up following XP’s lead in post-retirement, here is what will happen.

if windows 7 follows xp IDG/Gregg Keizer

We know how Windows XP’s share shriveled after its support ended in 2014. If Windows 7 behaves the same way, here’s how it will shrink. (Data: Net Applications.)

The first year, through January 2021, Windows 7 will slump from 35.3% (again, that’s the latest forecast, based on the 12-month average) to 21.3%. That 14-point fall – a 66% decline – would represent users and organizations scrambling to upgrade in time but missing the deadline. Expect a majority of that year-long slide, say about 8.5 percentage points, to happen before July 31, 2020.

Over the next three years, Windows 7 would drop further, hitting 14.6%, 9.3% and 6% at the end of January 2022, 2023 and 2024, respectively. The trio may not look harmful to the Windows ecosystem – organizations in particular are at risk from even a small number of unpatched PCs, as attackers can exploit them to gain a beach head on the network for damage and theft within the perimeter – but expressed a different way, the first number means that one out of every seven Windows personal computers will still be running 7 two years after it’s put to pasture. For comparison, about one in eight Windows computers ran XP at retirement +2 years.

(Microsoft’s decision to offer paid extended support for Windows 7 to corporate customers looks smart under this scenario. That support can be purchased to cover devices through January 2023.)

The fifth year of Windows 7’s after-support timeline – January 2025 – would end with 3.4% of all Windows PCs running the ancient OS.

Windows 7 milestones before retirement

In the coming months, Windows 7 will continue to shed user share, but almost certainly not every month. Net Applications, for instance, has claimed Windows 7 gained share in three of the past 12 months.

The operating system is on a 12-month trend of -0.6%, meaning that on average it loses six-tenths of a percentage point monthly. If it keeps to that average, Windows 7 would slip under the 40% (of all Windows PCs) mark in late June, end September with 38% and then close the year at an even 36%.

Meanwhile, Windows 10 – which in the zero-sum OS game wins when Windows 7 loses – should make 52% in June, 56% in October and fall under 59% by the time Microsoft crosses 7 off the support list in January.

A year after Windows 7’s retirement – in January 2021 – Windows 10 should stand at more than 70% of all Windows PCs.

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Windows by the numbers: March 2019

Windows 10 made up for lost ground last month, adding the most user share since the OS’s first full month of availability four years ago.

The large March increase stood in stark contrast to February’s odd couple: a decline in Windows 10 share and a corresponding boost to the aged Windows 7.

According to California web analytics company Net Applications, Windows 10’s share leaped by 3.3 percentage points in March, closing the month at 43.6% of all personal computers and 49.9% of all PCs running Windows. (The second number is always larger than the first because Windows does not power all personal computers; in March, Windows ran 87.5% of the world’s machines. All but a tiny fraction of the rest ran macOS, Linux or Chrome OS.)

The 3.3 points was the largest one-month gain since August 2015’s 4.9 percentage points during the initial explosion of installations caused by Microsoft’s free upgrade offer. Windows 10 launched July 31, 2015, and the offer ran a full year.

Meanwhile, Windows 7 dropped 1.9 points in March, falling to 36.5% of all PCs and 41.7% of those running Windows. Even the walking-dead Windows XP — officially retired from support five years ago this month — chipped in, shedding 1.1 points, sliding to 2.3% of all PCs and shrinking to an insignificant 2.6% of PCs powered by Windows.

The upturn of Windows 10 and downturn of all other editions flipped the world from its February upside-down state, returning it right-side-up so the newest OS grew and older OSes didn’t. A month ago, Computerworld pointed out that Net Applications’ baffling February data would quickly sort itself out, as it had before. It has.

Windows forecasts turn more favorable for Microsoft

The massive increase in Windows 10’s user share and the smaller-but-still-significant decrease in Windows 7’s made a mess of the predictions Computerworld posted 30 days ago.

Our new forecast — based on the operating system’s 12-month average movement — puts Windows 10 in the majority spot sometime this month, not in October as said the previous prediction. According to the latest projection, Windows 10 should be at nearly 51% of all Windows by the end of April.

Likewise, Windows 7’s return to its normal state of decline means that fewer machines should be running the operating system on Jan. 14, 2020, Microsoft’s retirement date for the 2009 OS. At the end of January, Windows 7 should be powering around 35% of all Windows PCs, not the 40% that February’s forecast asserted from skewed numbers.

(Windows 10 should be running 59% of all Windows systems when 7 shuffles to OS assisted living.)

Even if Windows 7 runs the smaller number — 35% — of PCs come its retirement party, the OS would have a bigger problem than did Windows XP, which ended support still running about 29% of all Windows personal computers at the time. A few more months posting declines like March’s — between 1 and 2 percentage points — would ease the pressure to purge Windows 7 as the deadline looms.

There’s some hope that will happen: In Windows XP’s final 10 months — about the time Windows 7 has left — the OS had five with declines of 1.4 points or larger, and three of 2 points or more. If Windows 7 sees similar drops during its remaining time, it would reach retirement running just under 29% of all Windows systems, almost exactly the same as did XP a half decade ago.

Elsewhere in Net Applications’ March data, the overall user share of Windows climbed less than one-tenth of a percentage point to 87.5%. MacOS and OS X rose, too, by two-tenths of a point, to 9.9%. Linux’s user share stabilized at 2.1% while Google’s Chrome OS edged up slightly to 0.4%.

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Windows by the numbers: February 2019

When the groundhog saw his shadow last month, it wasn’t a signal of an early spring but a hint that Windows would have one of those upside-down stretches.

Violating the cardinal rule of newer Windows editions, Windows 10 dropped the most user share since March 2018, making for a confusing picture about how customers’ migrations are proceeding. Meanwhile, the already-supplanted Windows 7 added share to its total last month, erasing more than half of the end-of-the-year dramatic decline that at the time seemed to show a quickening pace toward its retirement.

According to web analytics vendor Net Applications, Windows 10’s share fell by six-tenths of a percentage point in February, ending the month at 40.3% of all personal computers and 46.1% of all PCs running Windows. (The second number is always larger than the first because Windows does not power all personal computers; in February, Windows ran 87% of the world’s machines. All but a small fraction of the rest ran macOS, Linux or Chrome OS.)

Windows 7 added user share for the second straight month, gaining a whopping 1.2 percentage points to rebound to 38.4% of all PCs and 43.9% of those running Windows. At the same time, the should-be-dead Windows XP put on six-tenths of a points during February, climbing to 3.3% of all PCs and stretching to 3.8% of systems powered by Windows.

All in all, it was a mess. Windows 10 was supposed to be growing but it wasn’t. Windows 7 and Windows XP were to be shedding share, but they weren’t. Windows overall has been losing share, surely if slowly, but instead it gained.

The last time Net Applications’ numbers were so odd was March 2018, a month where Windows 10 lost eight-tenths of a percentage point, Windows 7 gained 1.8 points and Windows XP grew by eight-tenths of a point. But within two months, the normal march upward (Windows 10) and downward (Windows 7, XP) resumed.

Expect the same after February’s mysterious up-and-down, which like all single-month exams of OS analytics, are susceptible to oddball data or weird shifts in the browsing habits of those who happened to be monitored by Net Applications.

Keep an eye on the long-term forecast

Even though Windows 10 and Windows 7 traded usual behaviors last month, the former stayed well ahead of the latter in overall popularity: 46.1% versus 43.9%. There’s no danger of Windows 10 losing its grip on the No. 1 OS position.

With the latest data, Computerworld‘s forecast – based on each operating system’s 12-month average movement – now pegs October as when Windows 10 should reach a majority. That forecast puts Windows 10 at 50.4% of all Windows after Halloween.

But Windows 7’s backwards maneuver in February could result in more machines still running the OS when Microsoft retires it Jan. 14, 2020; when Windows 7’s support ends, it should be powering more than 40% of all Windows PCs. Windows 10 should be running 52% of the same group.

The first number – the projected user share for Windows 7 at its retirement – is higher than its January forecast because of the share increase last month. Windows 10’s predicted share is lower than the previous projection, down four points due to the February decline.

Although Net Applications’ numbers are not gospel, failing Microsoft’s publication of detailed statistics from its incoming telemetry they’re the best available. And increasingly the data paints a picture of Windows 7’s stubbornness. If more than 40% of all PCs in January do run Windows 7, as the forecast foretells, the situation would be even more problematic than when Windows XP reached retirement powering about 29% of all Windows systems.

That Windows 7 benchmark – 40.5% of Windows PCs running it at retirement – could either be interpreted as a rabid endorsement by customers or a denunciation of its successor, Windows 10. Or both. But the simplest explanation might be that users are much more uncertain of changing operating systems when the new standard upends the update/upgrade model. It may turn out that millions of Windows users will refuse to abandon Windows 7’s traditional refresh practices, security risks be damned.

Elsewhere in February’s results, the overall user share of Windows rose to 87.4%. In the zero-sum OS share game, that meant the combined share of all macOS and OS X editions had to fall: It did, to 9.7%. For the second consecutive month, Linux’s user share slipped by three-tenths of a point, while Google’s Chrome OS stayed flat. Those OSes ended February at 2.1% and 0.4%, respectively.

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Windows by the numbers: January 2019

Windows 10’s user share last month jumped by the largest amount in more than two and a half years, a strong signal that customers running older OSes may have gotten serious about meeting the looming retirement deadline of Windows 7.

According to web analytics company Net Applications, Windows 10’s share climbed by 1.7 percentage points in January, ending the month at 40.9% of all personal computers and 47.4% of all PCs running Windows. (The second number is always larger than the first because Windows does not power all personal computers; in January, Windows ran 86% of the world’s machines. Most of the rest ran macOS, Linux or Chrome OS.)

In an odd turn-about, Windows 7 added user share last month, gaining three-tenths of a percentage point to reach 37.2% of all PCs and 43.1% of those running Windows. Meanwhile, the long-obsolete Windows XP shed 1.8 percentage points during January, putting it at just 2.8% of all PCs and an almost as meager 3.2% of systems powered by Windows.

Both Windows 7’s and XP’s shifts, however, could be described as much as data corrections as actual increases and decreases. By Net Applications’ measurements, Windows 7 lost 2 points in December alone – the biggest drop since July 2016 – so the slight increase in January could well be a modest adjustment to what had been an overly-optimistic report earlier. More likely still: Windows XP’s dramatic drop may not have really meant millions suddenly ditched the unsupported OS.

During the three months of October through December, Net Applications asserted that XP had illogically gained 1.3 percentage points. The 1.8-point decline of January voided those increases completely, then added in a slump that equaled the average losses of several months over the past three years.

Windows 10 surges for second month in a row

Windows 10’s January growth of 1.7 points was the largest increase since August 2016 (excepting a November 2017 data recalibration by Net Applications) and just as important, the second straight month of gains larger than a point. (The last time Windows 10 posted something similar was July-August 2016.) The so-far-sustained boost in user share may presage growing momentum as commercial customers push to upgrade the bulk of their PCs from Windows 7 before the Jan. 14, 2020, support retirement. At least, that’s what Microsoft must hope.

When Windows 7’s support ends, it should be powering nearly 38% of all Windows PCs, while Windows 10 should be running 56% of the same group. The first number – the projected user share for Windows 7 at its retirement – was higher than its December forecast because of the share increase in January. Windows 10’s predicted share was also higher than the previous projection, up a full point.

The Windows 7 forecast showcased the staying power of that operating system, and the impossibility that Microsoft could do anything short of giving away Windows 10 to all customers to significantly change the 2009’s edition status. Even if Windows 7’s share fell by a point each month for the next 11 months, the OS would still power almost 30% of all Windows PCs at its retirement. That would still be a larger portion than Windows XP’s when it dropped off the support list in 2014.

(Similarly, if Windows 10 recorded average increases of one point each month for the next 11, it would reach 63% by January.)

With numbers like those, the post-retirement “Windows 7 Extended Security Updates” (ESU) announced last year may be looking better to enterprises. For an escalating cost each year, with a cap of three years, companies running Windows 7 Professional or Windows 7 Enterprise will continue to receive security updates for those editions.

Microsoft has not made public prices for ESU, although in a document obtained from its website, the company admitted that the cost will double each year. In other words, if the price was $100 per PC for the first year, it would run $200 the second and $400 the third. “We believe that the vast majority of customers who need to purchase Windows 7 ESU will need only one year of coverage,” Microsoft said in that document, justifying the steep increases. “The annual price increases help cover our additional engineering costs of providing the support and are intended to incent customers to continue their momentum on Windows 10 deployments.”

Elsewhere in January’s results, the overall user share of Windows remained flat at 86%. The combined share of all macOS and OS X editions was also stagnant at 10.7%. Linux’s user share slipped by three-tenths of a point and Google’s Chrome OS edged up somewhat, with those OSes at 2.5% and 0.4%, respectively.

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Windows by the numbers: December 2018

Nearly three and a half years after its release, Windows 10 last month surpassed its enterprise predecessor, Windows 7, as the most popular operating system on the planet.

According to analytics vendor Net Applications, Windows 10 jumped by 1.1 percentage points in user share in December, climbing to 39.2% of all personal computers and 45.5% of all PCs running Windows. (The second number is larger than the first because Windows does not power all PCs; in December, Windows ran 86% of the world’s systems. Most of the remainder ran macOS, Linux or Chrome OS, in decreasing order.)

Meanwhile, Windows 7 lost 2 percentage points last month, four times the loss of November and the largest one-month decline in over a year. Windows 7 ended 2018 on 36.9% of all personal computers and on 42.8% of all Windows PCs.

The moment when Windows 10 replaced Window 7 – the crossover point – came a month later than Computerworld predicted two months ago. Using the average monthly movement of each OS, that forecast envisioned a November crossover. It didn’t happen. (To be honest, the predictions were regularly voided when Windows 10 failed to meet growth expectations; in January 2018, for instance, crossover was tapped to occur in August.)

Crossover comes late

Crossover came late to Windows 7. The last major migration – from Windows XP to Windows 7 – reached crossover in August 2012, or 20 months before XP’s April 2014 retirement. Windows 10’s was less than 13 months before Windows 7’s retirement, currently slated for Jan. 14, 2020.

When Windows 7’s support ends, it should be powering slightly more than 36% of all Windows PCs, while Windows 10 will be running 55%. The first number – the projected user share for Windows 7 at its retirement – fell from the month-ago forecast (which pegged it at a record 40%) because the 2009 OS returned to a large decline in December.

By comparison, Windows XP accounted for 29% of all Windows PCs when it dropped off the support list.

Six months after Windows 7’s support expiration date, the OS should still power between 32% and 33% of all Windows PCs. By then, Windows 10 will have climbed to approximately 59%. In plainer terms, there will be lots of personal computers running the then-outdated Windows 7 without the safety net of security updates.

Microsoft will offer a temporary solution to businesses running Windows 7 Professional or Windows 7 Enterprise – the post-retirement Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU) announced in September 2018 – for an escalating cost each year for up to three years.

Windows 10 adoption has been slower than 7’s

Even with Microsoft’s free Windows 10 upgrade offer for the first 12 months after launch, the operating system was never able to keep up with the adoption pace set by Windows 7 six years earlier.

In the first three complete calendar years after Windows 7’s debut – 2010, 2011 and 2012 – the OS added 16, 15 and 8 percentage points to its total, respectively, for a total of 39 points of user share.

However, Windows 10 added just 14, 9 and 6 percentage points – a total of 29 – during its three-year stretch of 2016, 2017 and 2018. Windows 10 never matched the growth of its ancestor, whether on a one-year basis or overall. And compared to Windows 7, Windows 10 was unable to sustain high volumes of growth: Windows 10’s slowed dramatically in the second year and its third year also fell short of Windows 7’s.

Bottom line: Net Applications’ data points to a mad dash to rid systems of Windows 7 just before, at and after the support deadline, one even more frantic than took place in the months before and after Windows XP’s end of support.

Elsewhere in December’s data, the user share of Windows slumped once again, dropping eight-tenths of a percentage point – the most since November 2017 – to 86%. The combined share of all macOS and OS X editions added nine-tenths of a point to the total user share, which ended the year at 10.7%, a record high for Apple’s OS. Linux’s user share rose by seven-tenths of a point and Google’s Chrome OS stayed flat, with those alternate OSes at 2.8% and 0.3%, respectively.

Net Applications calculates user share by detecting the agent strings of the browsers people use to visit its clients’ websites. It then tallies the visitor sessions. The result: a measurement of browser activity that reflects OS use.

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Windows by the numbers: November 2018

Windows 10 battled Windows 7 last month for the title of Most Popular Windows, but again failed to land enough blows to put its opponent on the canvas.

According to U.S. analytics company Net Applications, Windows 10 slipped one-tenth of a percentage point in user share during November, falling back to 38.1% of all PCs and 43.8% of those running Windows. (The second number is larger than the first because Windows does not power all personal computers; in November, Windows ran 87% of the world’s systems. Most of the remainder ran macOS, Linux or Chrome OS.)

Meanwhile, Windows 7 lost five-tenths of a percentage point last month, just a third as much as in October. Windows 7 closed November on 38.9% of all personal computers and on 44.7% of all Windows PCs.

The gap between Window 7 and Windows 10 closed to less than a percentage point for the first time. Crossover – when Windows 10 accounts for a larger percentage of Windows PCs than Windows 7 – should occur this month, according to Computerworld‘s latest calculations using the average monthly movement of each. (These forecasts are not infallible. A month ago, Computerworld predicted the crossover would take place in November. It didn’t.)

Windows 7-Windows 10 crossover arrives late

Crossover will have come late to Windows 7 if the forecast becomes reality. The last significant transition from one Windows edition to another – from Windows XP to Windows 7 – reached crossover in August 2012, or 20 months before XP’s April 2014 support retirement. This month is just a scant 13 months before Windows 7’s scheduled retirement.

When Windows 7 reaches the end of its support lifecycle in January 2020, Net Applications’ current trend lines show the operating system should be powering almost 40%, while Windows 10 will be running 53%. The first number – the projected user share for Windows 7 at its public support retirement – has never been higher than it is now.

By comparison, Windows XP accounted for just 29% of all Windows PCs when it dropped off the support list.

Unless migrations from Windows 7 to Windows 10 surge – no, positively balloon in volume – there are going to be a lot of people running the older OS after January 2020 without the safety net of security updates.

Microsoft will offer a temporary solution to businesses running Windows 7 Professional or Windows 7 Enterprise – the post-retirement Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU) announced in September – for an escalating cost each year during a three-year stretch. That will give companies willing to pay for ESU until January 2023 to purge Windows 7. Customers unable or unwilling to play the additional support game through ESU, however, must either hustle or resign themselves to running an unpatched OS.

So much for the free upgrade offer

The slow uptake of Windows 10 – compared to Windows 7’s while XP aged out – dragged Microsoft’s 2015-2016 free upgrade offer back into the limelight.

From July 2015 to July 2016, the offer let customers running the Home or Pro/Professional versions of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 upgrade to Windows 10 free of charge. Businesses that relied on the Enterprise SKU (stock-keeping unit) were ineligible for the free upgrade, however.

Although the free upgrade spurred migrations, with Microsoft claiming 350 million devices running Windows 10 after just 11 months, that jump-start did not provide enough momentum to change the switch-OS dynamic. If Microsoft gave away Windows 10 to prevent another end-of-support dash – as some suspected because of the frenzied end to Windows XP’s retirement – it failed.

Elsewhere in the November data, the user share of Windows slipped again, falling three-tenths of a percentage point – the third straight month of about that amount of decline – to 87%. The combined share of all macOS and OS X editions accounted for 9.7%, a dip of three-tenths of a point. Linux and Google’s Chrome OS stayed flat at 2.1% and 0.3%, respectively.

Net Applications calculates user share by detecting the agent strings of the browsers people use to visit its clients’ websites. It then tallies the visitor sessions. The result: a measurement of browser activity that reflects OS use.

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Windows by the numbers: October 2018

After a September stumble, Windows 10 last month resumed its march toward replacing Windows 7 as the world’s most popular operating system, an analytics vendor reported this week.

According to California-based Net Applications, Windows 10 added eight-tenths of a percentage point to its user share in October, reaching 38.3% of all PCs and 43.9% of those running Windows. (The second number is always larger than the first because Windows never powers all personal computers; in October, Windows ran 87.3% of the world’s systems. The remainder ran macOS, Linux or Chrome OS.)

As expected, Windows 10’s October increase more than made up for the prior month’s downturn. It was slightly larger than the 12-month average for the three-year-old OS and likely puts Windows 10 back on track for a sustained climb.

Meanwhile, the veteran Windows 7 lost 1.6 percentage points of user share last month, its biggest decline since May. Windows 7 ended October on 39.4% of all personal computers and on 45.1% of all PCs running Windows.

Window 10 and Windows 7 have never been closer. The crossover point – the moment when Windows 10 powers a larger percentage of all Windows PCs than Windows 7 – will almost certainly occur this month, according to Computerworld‘s calculations using the average monthly movement of each. As recently as last month, that crossover was forecast for December.

Crossover will not mean an end to Windows 7, nor represent total victory for Windows 10. But the sooner-rather-than-later milestone means a better outlook for Windows 10 come January 2020, when Windows 7 reaches the end of standard support. At that point, Net Applications’ revised trend lines signal that Windows 10 should be running 60% of all Windows systems, with 37% still powered by Windows 7. Because of the business-as-usual increase of Windows 10 and also-normal decrease of Windows 7, those figures are higher and lower, respectively, then they were a month ago.

Microsoft may have just breathed a small sigh of relief, even though the company has claimed Windows 10 already is ahead of Windows 7 in at least one critical area.

“More than half of our commercial device installed base is now on Windows 10,” asserted Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella this week during a conference call to discuss the September quarter’s earnings. Microsoft based Nadella’s statement on telemetry received from Windows 7 and Windows 10 PCs in corporate environments. (That incoming data does not include all Windows 7 machines – not every such system transmits information to Microsoft’s servers – so the company may be undercounting the older OS.)

According to Computerworld‘s forecasts, which rely on Net Applications’ numbers, Windows 10 will reach the 50% line (of all in-use PCs, not just those in the enterprise) in April. At that time, Windows 7 will account for nearly 42% of all Windows.

Microsoft has been pushing customers, especially its best-paying customers – enterprises and other large organizations – to move to Windows 10 ASAP. The company line has been about 10’s security and manageability, all better than 7’s. But Microsoft has more skin in the game than that.

“The Windows 10 Pro strength and I think [the] commercial strength we’ve seen … continues to be a good signal for us,” said Microsoft CFO Amy Hood during the same earnings conference call. By “signal,” she meant the signs, internal at this point, of future revenue.

“That end of [Windows 7] support is about five quarters away, so we’ll continue to expect good signal and good demand in that [Windows 10] Pro segment,” Hood said. “The signal is demand is very good for Windows 10 and upgrades in modern hardware … so even if you have a tougher comp[arable to previous years], I think the demand signal and our opportunity to continue to sell Microsoft 365 in that process, and then upgrade to Office 365 as they do deployments, is a big opportunity for us to excel.”

Key in Hood’s commentary was the mention of Microsoft 365, the company’s most expensive subscription plan, which combines Windows 10 Enterprise with the top-tier Office 365 subscription and a host of other software, including for-IT management tools.

The faster Microsoft gets enterprises off Windows 7, the sooner its salespeople can pitch Microsoft 365 – a cornerstone of its OS revenue strategy – at those customers.

Elsewhere in the October data, the user share of Windows again slid, dropping another three-tenths of a percentage point – about the same as the month before – to 87.3%. The combined share of all macOS and OS X editions accounted for 10%, an increase of half of a point. Linux slipped two-tenths of a percentage point, to 2%, while Google’s Chrome OS was flat at a meager three-tenths of a point.

Net Applications calculates user share by detecting the agent strings of the browsers people use to visit its clients’ websites. It then tallies the visitor sessions, rather than count users, as it once did. The result? A measurement of browser activity that reflects OS use.

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Windows by the numbers: September 2018

Windows 10 in September faltered in its battle to replace Windows 7, losing its chance this month of putting the older operating system in second place.

According to California analytics vendor Net Applications, Windows 10 retreated by four-tenths of a percentage point in September, putting its user share at 37.4% of all personal computers and 42.8% of those running Windows. (The second number is always larger than the first because Windows never powers all personal computers; in September, Windows ran 87.6% of the world’s systems. The remainder ran macOS, Linux or ChromeOS.)

September’s decline was one of only five recorded in the 38 months since the mid-2015 launch of the newer OS. More common has been Windows 10 advancing its user share: its monthly average has been an eight-tenths of a percentage point increase. In all but one of the prior cases where Windows 10 lost user share, the slide was brief and gains immediately resumed.

That will likely be what happens in October.

For September, however, Windows 10’s growth was put on pause while Windows 7’s was set to fast forward: The almost-retired Windows 7 climbed six-tenths of a percentage point to 40.9% of all personal computers and 46.7% of all PCs running Windows.

The crossover point – the moment when Windows 10 powers a larger percentage of all Windows PCs than Windows 7 – now looks to be December, according to Computerworld‘s calculations using the average monthly movement of each. As recently as last month, the crossover was predicted to occur in October.

Crossover will not put an end to Windows 7, of course, nor put Windows 10 on every PC. Trends for the two operating systems now indicate that in January 2020, when Windows 7 reaches the end of standard support, Windows 10 will run 57% of all Windows systems, with 38% still be powered by Windows 7. Because of the uncharacteristic decrease of Windows 10 and the just-as-odd increase of Windows 7, those figures were lower and higher, respectively, then they were a month ago.

Not surprisingly, Microsoft had a different take. In a presentation at last week’s Ignite conference, Brad Anderson, a corporate vice president in Microsoft’s enterprise mobility and management group, asserted that Windows 10’s crossover would take place much sooner. “Within the next two weeks, we will cross the point where there will be more Windows 10 in the enterprise than any other version of the operating system,” said Anderson (emphasis added). “In fact, it will cross the 50% line.”

According to forecasts that rely on Net Applications’ data, Windows 10 won’t break the 50% bar (of all in-use PCs, not just those in the enterprise) until May 2019. The difference could be explained by Anderson’s enterprise citation, which would omit consumer machines as well as those running in any business that doesn’t manage its Windows PCs with SCCM (System Center Configuration Manager) or Intune.

It’s to Microsoft’s benefit to advance the change narrative. Only with Windows 7’s demise can the Redmond, Wash. firm sell business customers pricey Microsoft 365 subscriptions – now one of the cornerstones of its strategy.

Anderson used the 50% bar to throw Microsoft’s make-haste pitch. “You can benchmark yourself. Where are you at today in your upgrade to Windows 10? Are you half-way through? If you’re not, you’re behind the rest of the industry. If you’re ahead of that, you’re ahead.”

Elsewhere in the September data, the user share of Windows again fell, shedding three-tenths of a percentage point to 87.6%. The combined share of all macOS and OS X editions accounted for 9.5%, an increase of one-tenth of a point. Linux remained flat at 2.2%.

Net Applications calculates user share by detecting the agent strings of the browsers people use to visit its clients’ websites. It then tallies the visitor sessions – which are effectively visits to the site, with multiple sessions possible daily – rather than count users, as it once did. Net Applications thus measures activity, although differently than rival metrics sources which sum page views.

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Windows by the numbers: August 2018

Windows 10 last month recorded its strongest growth since January, accelerating the timeline when the newer operating system will overtake the venerable Windows 7.

According to analytics company Net Applications, Windows 10 added 1.2 percentage points in August, moving its user share to 37.8% of all personal computers and 43% of those running Windows. (The second number is always larger than the first because Windows never powers all personal computers; in August, it ran 87.8% of the world’s systems, with the rest managed by macOS, Linux or ChromeOS.)

August’s gain was the fourth straight month that Windows 10 added about a point, or more, of user share. Over the May-August period, Windows 10 grew its user share by 4 points, the largest four-month increase since the stretch from November 2017 to February 2018, when the OS grew by 5.4 points.

The steady gains signaled that migrations, those of business users’ PCs in particular, are hitting their stride. Windows 7, while still dominant in the workplace, falls off support in mid-January 2020, little more than 16 months from now. Once it loses support, Windows 7 will no longer receive patches to repair vulnerabilities, exposing the devices that run it to attack and exploitation. For that reason, companies are pushing to purge Windows 7 and replace it with Windows 10.

Windows 7 lost a full percentage point in August, falling to 40.3% of all PCs and 45.9% of those running Windows. That decline was the third largest of the past 12 months, a span when the operating system has shed more than 8 points.

Windows 7 may not yet be on the ropes – it remained the world’s most widely used OS in August – but it’s on the verge of ceding the top spot. Net Applications’ latest data pegged the crossover point – when Windows 10 will run a larger percentage of all Windows PCs than Windows 7 – as October, a month earlier than previous forecasts. The trend lines for Windows 10 and Windows 7 now indicate that in January 2020, when Windows 7 reaches retirement, Windows 10 will run 61% of all Windows systems, with 34% still be powered by Windows 7.

Although Microsoft certainly hopes Windows 7’s demise comes sooner rather than later – the Redmond, Wash. firm can’t sell business customers pricy Microsoft 365 subscriptions until those customers adopt Windows 10 – Net Applications’ data shows that as unlikely.

The last major crossover, when Windows 7’s share became greater than Windows XP’s, happened in August 2012, or 20 months before the latter’s support expired. If the latest crossover occurs as forecast – in October – Windows 10 will top its predecessor 15 months from its forebear’s retirement, or in other words, at a later point in the timeline than did Windows 7.

Other signals are murkier.

Even though there should be a larger fraction of PCs running Windows 7 in January 2020 than there was of Windows XP in April 2014 (34% for Windows 7, 29% for XP), the bottom line for Windows 10 may be stronger than the numbers imply. According to Net Applications’ 12-month trends, at the end of January 2020 Windows 10 will power about 61% of all Windows PCs, a bigger portion than the 54% of all PCs that ran Windows 7 at XP’s retirement.

(The difference seemed to be caused by the addition of Windows 8/8.1 to the OS mix in 2012; at XP’s expiration date, Windows 8/8.1 accounted for 13.5% of all Windows PCs. By the time Windows 7 gasps its last support breath, Windows 8/8.1 will be just a shell, sporting an estimated 5% share of all Windows PCs.)

Elsewhere in the August data, the user share of Windows dropped again, slipping six-tenths of a percentage point to 87.8% and negating July’s gain. The combined share of all macOS and OS X editions accounted for 9.4%, an increase of nearly three-tenths of a point. Linux grew by three-tenths of a point to 2.2%.

Net Applications calculates user share by detecting the agent strings of the browsers people use to visit its clients’ websites. It then tallies the visitor sessions – which are effectively visits to the site, with multiple sessions possible daily – rather than count users, as it once did. Net Applications thus measures activity, although differently than rival metrics sources which total page views.

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Windows by the numbers: July 2018

Windows 10 posted its third strong month of growth in a row in July, putting it on track to overtake the veteran Windows 7 by November.

According to California-based analytics vendor Net Applications, Windows 10 added nine-tenths of a percentage point in July, posting a user share of 36.6% of all personal computers and 41.4% of those running Windows. (The second number is always larger than the first because Windows never powers 100% of all PCs; in July, it ran 88.4% of the world’s systems.)

July’s increase was the third consecutive month that Windows 10 added close to a percentage point of user share. Over the May-July stretch, Windows 10 gained 2.8 points. That was the largest three-month increase since the November 2017-January 2018 period, when the OS grew by 5 points.

Windows 10 user share’s gains – and at times, losses – show the progress individuals and companies have made in migrating from older operating systems, notably Windows 7, which will fall out of support in mid-January 2020 – fewer than 18 months from now. Once unsupported, Windows 7 will no longer receive security updates to patch vulnerabilities, exposing the OS, devices that run it, and the information on those devices, to attack, exploitation and data theft.

Windows 7 shed half a percentage point in July, slipping to 41.2% of all personal computers and 46.6% of those running Windows. That decline was the third largest in the past six months, a stretch when the OS essentially held its ground, refusing to release its grip on corporate PCs in particular.

The 2009 operating system’s performance over the last year has been more to Microsoft’s liking: Windows 7 lost 7.7 percentage points in the past 12 months. Based on that trend, Computerworld now predicts that Windows 7 will account for 35% of all active Windows editions when support ends in January 2020. At that time, Windows 10 should power nearly 59% of all Windows laptop and desktop PCs.

Net Applications’ latest numbers made sure that the crossover point for Windows 10 – when the newer OS will run a higher percentage of all Windows PCs than the older edition – stayed in November. The trend lines for Windows 10 and Windows 7 signal that for January 2019, just 12 months from Windows 7’s retirement, Windows 10 will run 47.2% of all Windows systems, while Windows 7 will power 43%.

For Microsoft, the demise of Windows 7 can’t come soon enough. The company has issued numerous edicts meant to motivate customers to drop it for Windows 10, including declining to support it on newer silicon and a failed attempt to cut off support to some users two and a half years early.

More recently, Microsoft urged its business partners and resellers to cash in on the remaining migration from Windows 7 to Windows 10 and claimed the opportunity is worth $100 billion. At Inspire, the company’s annual conference geared toward partners, Microsoft also said that there are 184 million commercial PCs running Windows 7 across the world (excepting the massive market that is the People’s Republic of China).

Microsoft’s number is just a fraction of the latest estimates of Windows 7’s footprint calculated by Computerworld using Net Applications’ July data; that calculation pegged Windows 7 worldwide consumer and commercial number at just under 700 million PCs. The commercial side would be approximately 385 million using the long-accepted 55%-45% ratio of commercial/consumer PCs. Yet even that reduced number would be more than twice Microsoft’s, raising questions about whether China has 200 million commercial Windows 7 PCs, or whether Computerworld‘s figure is off the mark. Presumably, Microsoft’s number is the most accurate since it’s gleaned from machine-to-Microsoft telemetry.

Microsoft is eager for customers to dump Windows 7 for numerous reasons, but one is directly related to the company’s bottom line. Microsoft’s long-term strategy emphasizes subscriptions to monetize its products and services. In hindsight, Windows 10 seems designed for software-by-subscription; Windows 10’s rapid development and release tempo, notably its twice-annual feature upgrading, is a key part of the subscription pitch. Microsoft can’t sell business customers such subs as Microsoft 365 until those customers adopt Windows 10.

Elsewhere in Net Applications’ data, the user share of Windows overall climbed six-tenths of a percentage point to 88.4%, while the combined share of all macOS and OS X editions accounted for 9.1%, a decline increase of six-tenths of a point. Linux, whose fans aggressively tout the open-source OS as a desktop alternative to Windows, stayed flat in July at 1.9%.

Net Applications calculates user share by detecting the agent strings of the browsers people use to visit its clients’ websites. It then tallies the visitor sessions – which are effectively visits to the site, with multiple sessions possible daily – rather than count users, as it once did. Net Applications thus measures activity, although differently than rival metrics sources which total page views.

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Windows by the numbers: June 2018

Windows 10 last month for the first time passed the 40% milestone, but adoption still lagged behind the venerable Windows 7, which refused to budge from its dominant spot.

According to California-based analytics vendor Net Applications, Windows 10 added a full percentage point in June, accounting for 35.7% of the user share of all personal computers and 40.4% of all those running Windows last month. (The second number is larger than the first because Windows powered 87.9% of all PCs, not 100%.)

The 40.4% represented an estimated 606 million Windows personal computers, calculated using Microsoft’s oft-cited number of 1.5 billion Windows PCs worldwide. Microsoft’s most recent claim for Windows 10 was that the operating system was on nearly “700 million … connected devices,” a statistic it touted in early May. However, Microsoft counts not just PCs, but also Xbox gaming consoles, tablets and a small number of Windows-powered smartphones, which run Windows 10.

Even the 700 million figure, give or take a few million, fell short of the target Microsoft set itself in May 2015, months before Windows 10’s debut, when then-head of Windows, Terry Myerson, said, “Our goal is that within two to three years of Windows 10’s release there will be one billion devices running Windows 10.”

Little more than a year later, however, Microsoft disavowed the 1 billion figure and blamed the expected shortfall on the in-serious-decline Windows 10 smartphone business. But industry analysts pointed to other factors that made the billion-or-bust target unachievable, including a long decline in global PC shipments.

While Windows 10 posted an impressive gain in June — the largest since January — contrary to expectations, Windows 7 lost little. The 2009 OS dropped half a tenth of a percentage point last month, ending with a user share of 41.7% of all personal computers and 47.3% of all those running Windows.

By Net Applications’ numbers, the growth of Windows 10 came at the expense of Windows 8 and 8.1 (which contracted by four-tenths of a point) and the ancient Windows XP (which fell by nearly a full percentage point).

So, while the increase in Windows 10 was good news for Microsoft, the stubbornness of Windows 7 was not. As the end of support for Windows 7 approaches — it is now 18 months away — the forecast remains cloudy. Computerworld currently predicts that, based on Windows’ past 12 months, Windows 7 will account for more than 36% of all active Windows editions in January 2020. At that time, Windows 10 should power nearly 60% of all Windows laptop and desktop PCs.

Net Applications’ latest numbers placed the crossover point for Windows 10 — when the newer OS will run a larger percentage of all Windows PCs than the older edition — in November. The trend lines for Windows 10 and Windows 7 signal that for January 2019, just 12 months from Windows 7’s retirement, Windows 10 will run 47.7% of all Windows systems, while Windows 7 will power 43.7%.

Microsoft’s own Windows 10 claims show an adoption acceleration, although with so few data points, that conclusion is on shaky ground. According to the Redmond, Wash. company, it took 159 days to push Windows 10 from 600 million to 700 million, or 44 fewer days than it took Windows 10 to go from 500 million to 600 million. (The shift from 500 million to 600 million took just 23 fewer days than from 400 million to 500 million.)

For Microsoft, the demise of Windows 7 can’t come soon enough. The company has issued several edicts to cajole and convince customers to drop it for Windows 10, including declining to support it on newer silicon and a failed attempt to cut off support to some users two and a half years early.

Microsoft’s stated motivations for such decisions — that Windows 7 is no longer good enough, secure enough, fast enough, to work on today’s hardware or solve today’s problems — may not be the whole story. For instance, Microsoft’s long-term strategy emphasizes subscriptions to monetize its products and services; Windows 10, unlike its forerunners (including Windows 7) was designed for frequent updating, a key component of the appeal of software-by-subscription.

Nor does Microsoft want to be embarrassed by large-scale attacks against Windows 7 once it halts security updates to all but those who fork over money for an extension. If the firm had a say, there would be no PCs running Windows 7 after January 14, 2020, the support cut-off. That’s not going to happen. From all evidence available today, Windows 7 will, in fact, be more widely in use at its retirement than was Windows XP, which powered 29% of all Windows personal computers at its April 2014 end-of-support.

Elsewhere in Net Applications’ data, the user share of Windows overall dropped by approximately half a percentage point to 87.9%, while the combined share of all macOS and OS X editions accounted for 9.7%, an increase of seven-tenths of a point. Linux, whose loyalists have aggressively touted the open-source OS for decades as a desktop alternative to Windows, recorded a one-tenth percentage point loss in June to 1.9%, returning the OS to the underside of the 2% bar.

Net Applications calculates user share by detecting the agent strings of the browsers people use to visit its clients’ websites. It then tallies the visitor sessions — which are effectively visits to the site, with multiple sessions possible daily — rather than count users, as it once did. Net Applications thus measures activity, although differently than rival metrics sources that focus on page views.

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Windows by the numbers: May 2018

A kind of sanity returned to Windows’ status in May as the outgoing Windows 7 finally dropped some significant user share while Windows 10 padded its tally.

According to U.S.-based analytics vendor Net Applications, Windows 7 sloughed off 1.8 percentage points last month, accounting for 41.8% of the user share of all personal computers and 47.3% of all those running Windows in May. (The second number is larger than the first because Windows powered 88.4% of all PCs, not 100%.)

May’s decline was the largest in nearly two years, excepting a late-2017 reset when Net Applications purged its data of criminal bot traffic.

The change from past months was dramatic: In both March and April, Windows 7 gained ground, exactly the opposite of what Microsoft wants to see as it pushes customers to adopt Windows 10 and rid themselves of the older Windows 7.

Meanwhile, Windows 10 increased its user share last month by nine-tenths of a percentage point to reach 34.7% of all PCs, and 39.3% of all Windows personal computers. That, too, was in contrast to the two months prior, during which Windows 10 backtracked by a total of eight-tenths of a point.

The news for Microsoft may have been good in May, but long term, the outlook is still unsettled. Basing a forecast on Windows’ past 12 months movement, Computerworld estimates that Windows 7 will account for nearly 35% of all active Windows editions in January 2020. At that time, Windows 10 should power 57% of all Windows laptop and desktop PCs.

The latest numbers advanced the cross-over point for Windows 10 – when the newer OS will run a larger percentage of all Windows PCs than the older edition – from February 2019 (using April’s numbers) to November 2018. The latest trend line for the two operating systems shows that at the end of this year, just 12 months from Windows 7’s retirement, Windows 10 will run 45.6% of all Windows systems, while Windows 7 will power 43.2%.

Elsewhere in Net Applications’ data, the user share of Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 – long combined by Computerworld – stayed steady in May at 6.5% of all personal computers and 7.3% of those PCs running a Windows flavor. The 2012 (and for Windows 8.1, 2013) operating system accounted for about the same fraction of last month’s Windows-based online activity as the ancient Windows XP, which still held a 5% user share.

Within a year, Windows 8/8.1 should drop below 5%, another confirmation that the OS was a Microsoft flops. The dramatically-different Windows 8/8.1 never caught on, peaking in November 2014 at around 18%, or several percentage points lower than the top mark of 2007’s much-more-derided Windows Vista.

Also, in May, user share for Apple’s macOS fell by two-tenths of a percentage point, to 9%, after climbing almost that same amount in April. Linux, whose loyalists have perennially touted the open-source OS as the cure to the world’s ills, recorded a one-tenth percentage point boost in May, returning to the plus side of 2% after two months below that bar.

Net Applications calculates user share by detecting the agent strings of the browsers people use to visit its clients’ websites. It then tallies the visitor sessions – which are effectively visits to the site, with multiple sessions possible daily – rather than count only users, as it once did. Net Applications thus measures activity most of all, although differently than rival metrics sources which focus on page views.

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Windows by the numbers: April 2018

The status of both Windows 7 and Windows 10 remained muddled in April, an analytics vendor said this week, with their expected progress – Windows 7 in decline, 10 on the rise – again upended.

According to California-based Net Applications, Windows 7 added more than a tenth of a percentage point of user share – an estimate of the portion of all PCs powered by that operating system – in April, ending the month on 43.6% of the world’s PCs and on 49.3% of all systems running a flavor of Windows. (The second number is larger than the first because Windows accounted for 88.4% of all operating systems, not 100%.)

Meanwhile, Windows 10 was flat last month, accounting for 33.8% of all personal computer operating systems and 38.2% of all those running Windows.

Net Applications’ latest data resembled that of March, when the metrics company said Windows 10 had dropped by the largest-ever amount and the should-be-disappearing Windows 7 had added the largest amount since the middle of 2015, before Windows 10 appeared.

What in the world is going on?

While it’s possible that the numbers reflect a real-world re-adoption of Windows 7 and a retirement of Windows 10 machines, that’s unlikely. Instead, the numbers reflect yet another reset on the part of Net Applications, which purged bot traffic from its data in November and repeated the effort more recently, in February.

Both times, Net Applications purged the bot traffic because it muddled the results. “Bots can cause significant skewing of data,” Net Applications explained last year. “We have seen situations where traffic from certain large countries is almost completely bot traffic. In other countries, ad fraudsters generate traffic that spoofs certain technologies in order to generate high-value clicks. Or, they heavily favor a particular browser or platform.”

As the company hinted, bots are usually deployed by criminals and hucksters, who program the tools to mimic human online behavior for ad click-fraud purposes.

In the end, Net Applications has argued, bot-free data is more accurate because it’s a measurement of what real users are doing, not what scammers pretending to be users are doing.

Unlike November’s bots-be-gone reset, February’s was not kind to Microsoft. Last year’s purge dumped a large portion of Windows 7’s user share and added to Windows 10’s, news that fit with Microsoft’s message that customers were rapidly ditching the old and adopting the new. But February’s flipped the script.

Basing its forecast on the 12-month average of Windows’ trends, Computerworld now estimates that Windows 7 will account for almost 42% of all active Windows editions in January 2020. At that time, Windows 10 should power approximately 56% of all Windows laptop and desktop PCs.

The altered numbers pushed back the cross-over point for Windows 10 – when the newer OS will run a larger percentage of all Windows PCs than the older edition – from December 2018 (using March’s numbers) to February 2019. The latest trend line for the two operating systems shows that at the end of this year, just 12 months from Windows 7’s retirement, Windows 10 will run 45% of all Windows systems, while Windows 7 will still be on 47%.

Windows 7’s refusal to quickly depart now looks not just embarrassing for Microsoft – the company wants to move customers to Windows 10 as soon as possible – but also potentially dangerous.

When Windows XP exited support in April 2014, about 29% of all Windows PCs still ran the retired OS. If Windows 7 is even more prevalent, as the data now signals, there will be a greater chance that hackers will successfully target the unpatched operating system. That will put pressure on Microsoft, much more pressure than it faced with XP, to extend Windows 7 support for corporate customers beyond the current January 2020 deadline. In turn, a support extension would disrupt the move to Windows 10, on which Microsoft has high expectations for delivering steady subscription revenue.

Elsewhere in Net Applications’ data, the user share for Apple’s macOS rose by two-tenths of a percentage point, to 9.2%, after falling more than a full point in March.

Net Applications calculates user share by detecting the agent strings of the browsers people use to visit its clients’ websites. It then tallies the visitor sessions – which are effectively visits to the site, with multiple sessions possible daily – rather than count each user a maximum of once per day, as it once did.

The company also accounts for the size of each country’s online population to better estimate share in regions where it lacks analytics customers, such as China and India.

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Windows by the numbers: March 2018

Just when it looked like Windows 10 was gathering momentum, the operating system last month sloughed off its biggest-ever chunk of user share, new data showed.

According to analytics vendor Net Applications, Windows 10 lost eight-tenths of a percentage point in user share — an estimate of the portion of all PCs powered by that operating system — during March, ending the month on 33.3% of the world’s PCs and 37.4% of all systems running a Microsoft edition. (The second number is larger than the first because Windows accounted for 88.9% of all operating systems, not 100%.)

The downturn was the largest ever for Windows 10, which has been trending up since its mid-2015 debut. That movement has not been a straight line, as March’s dip showed, but it has been impressive, averaging more than eight-tenths of a point monthly.

It’s certain that Windows 10 will again post gains — there is no other reasonable alternative to Windows 7, which Microsoft will retire in January 2020 — and that last month was a blip. But the screeching stop was accompanied by an even larger increase in Windows 7’s user share: The veteran OS added 1.8 percentage points to its tally, ending March with 43.4%, slightly more than Net Applications had pegged it at in November 2017.

Windows 7’s uptick was bad news on multiple fronts.

First, if accurate — and there’s no guarantee any third-party measurement is — then Windows 7 will retain a larger number of users than earlier anticipated when it slips off the support list in 21 months. Using the 12-month average of Windows 7’s share movements, Computerworld now forecasts that the 2009 OS will account for about 38% of all active Windows editions in January 2020. At that time, Windows 10 should power approximately 56% of all Windows laptop and desktop PCs.

The latest prediction for Windows 7’s end-of-support remainder was three percentage points higher than that of last month, which was calculated the same way.

Second, the boost to Windows 7 pushes back the cross-over for Windows 10 — when it will power a larger percentage of all Windows PCs than Windows 7 — from August (as of February’s data from Net Applications) to December (using March’s numbers). The trend line for the two operating systems now indicates that at the end of this year — and just over 12 months from Windows 7’s retirement — Windows 10 will run 45.1% of all Windows systems, while Windows 7 will be on 44.8%.

And third, the large jump in user share for Windows 7 immediately raises suspicion that the measurement was flawed, perhaps because fraudulent bot traffic — scoured by Net Applications from its data last year — has returned with a vengeance. If so, it would call into question the entirety of Net Applications’ user share estimates.

All of those would point to a failure of sorts for Microsoft, because it would mean there will be many more PCs running Windows 7 in January 2020 than were on Windows XP when that OS exited support in April 2014. During the latter month, XP accounted for about 29% of all Windows editions. Since then, Microsoft has waged an unprecedented campaign on the part of Windows 10, using both strong-arm tactics and a wealth of new tools, to persuade and push customers into migration.

Elsewhere in Net Applications’ data, the user share for Apple’s macOS plummeted a full percentage point to 8.9%, making moot its recent charge toward the once-fanciful 10% milestone for the company’s Macintosh line.

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Windows by the numbers: February 2018

A small boost in Windows 10’s user share over the last several months is likely a signal that businesses have finally begun migrating to the new operating system, an analysis of new data shows.

Data published yesterday by California-based Net Applications said that Windows 10 actually slipped two-tenths of a percentage point in user share – the portion of all personal computer owners who ran the operating system – during February, ending the month powering 34.1% of the world’s PCs and 38.9% of all systems running an edition of Microsoft’s OS. (The second number is larger than the first because Windows accounted for 87.7% of all operating systems, not 100%.)

But the downturn, the first since February 2017, was certainly an outlier, as Windows 10 has been on an upward climb since its mid-2015 debut. That trend has not been a straight line, however, but one showing 10’s increases by fits and starts.

By graphing Windows 10’s user share increases on a six-month trailing basis – each data point represents the total gain over the previous six months – it becomes clear that after a pair of adoption waves that crested in January 2015 and August 2106, the operating system fell into a trough that reached bottom in February 2017.

(The timelines of the crests were not coincidental; the first was fueled by early adopters switching to Windows 10 from Windows 7 and 8.1 using Microsoft’s free upgrade deal, and the second triggered by that free upgrade’s expiration in mid-2016.)

In the past year, Windows 10’s growth has, if not surged, then clawed its way out of the February 2017 hole. The six-month trailing numbers climbed, peaked, then slumped, three different times in the intervening 12 months. But each time the trough wasn’t as low as the one before, while the recovering peak always exceeded its predecessor.

For instance, January 2018’s six-month trailing number was 4.8 percentage points, the highest since November 2016.

Although it’s unclear what percentages of enterprise PCs contribute to Net Applications’ data – some corporate systems rarely if ever browse the wider web, instead remaining within a company’s intranet perimeter – the rebounding of Windows 10’s growth can safely be assigned to business machines migrating to the newer OS. (For one, consumer PC purchases continue their precipitous multi-year decline, and two, consumers who planned to upgrade from Windows 7 and 8.1 did so while the free offer lasted.)

Because businesses have a deadline to meet – the retirement of Windows 7 on Jan. 14, 2020 – it’s no surprise that the switch to Windows 10 has picked up momentum. It would have been an incredible surprise if growth had not increased, what with the pressure to flush Windows 7 from corporate networks.

But will those companies make the due date?

Using the 12-month average of Windows 7’s user share decline, Computerworld forecasts that the aging OS will still account for about 35% of all active Windows editions in January 2020. (At that time, Windows 10 should power approximately 63% of all Windows laptop and desktop PCs.)

The projected 35% would be a failure of sorts for Microsoft, because it would mean there were more PCs running Windows 7 than when Windows XP exited support in April 2014. That month, XP accounted for approximately 29% of all Windows editions.

Computerworld still forecasts the cross-over for Windows 10 – when it will power a larger percentage of all Windows PCs than Windows 7 – as August of this year. The 12-month trends for the two operating systems now indicate that at the end of that month, Windows 10 will run 45% of all Windows systems, while Windows 7 will be on 44.6%.

(Another analytics data provider, Ireland’s StatCounter, pegged January 2018 as the moment when Windows 7 handed the baton to Windows 10.)

Elsewhere in Net Applications’ data, the user share for Apple’s macOS stayed stable at 9.9%, within spitting distance of a once-unthinkable 10% milestone for the company’s 34-year-old Macintosh line.

windows 10 growth rebounds IDG/Gregg Keizer

Six-month trailing tallies show the ups and downs of Windows 10 growth since its mid-2015 debut. The improvement since February 2017 likely portrays businesses moving to the newer OS from the soon-to-be-retired Windows 7 hardware. (Data: Net Applications.)

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Windows by the numbers: January 2018

Windows 10 added more user share in January than in any month since mid-2016, according to web analytics vendors Net Applications, the company said last week.

Data published Feb. 1 by the California-based Net Applications showed that Windows 10 had accumulated 1.4 percentage points of user share – the portion of all personal computer owners who ran the operating system – during January, ending the month powering 34.3% of the world’s PCs and 39.1% of all those systems running a flavor of Microsoft’s OS. (The second number is larger than the first because Windows accounted for 88.8% of all operating systems, not 100%.)

Windows 10’s increase was its largest since August 2016, if the November 2017 drop of 2.7 points is ignored. The latter was part of an across-the-board revamp of Net Applications’ data, designed to purge the numbers of bogus traffic originating from criminals’ “bots,” and thus was not proof of a sudden rush to Windows 10.

Meanwhile, Windows 7, the still-stalwart OS of the enterprise, ditched seven-tenths of a percentage point in January to post a user share of 42.4% of all PCs, equivalent to 48.3% of those running Windows.

The movements of Windows 7 and Windows 10 are of paramount importance to Microsoft at the moment, as the company plans to stop supporting the former in January 2020. During the next two years, Microsoft will push, nudge, prod, exhort, even threaten, users to get them to dump Windows 7 and move to Windows 10. How well the firm accomplishes that task will affect both its bottom line and reputation.

Using the 12-month averages of Windows 7’s and Windows 10’s user share changes, Computerworld revised its cross-over forecast. That cross-over – when Windows 10’s share of all Windows PCs exceeds Windows 7’s – may come as early as August, a month before the previous estimate. According to the 12-month trend, Windows 10’s share that month will reach 41.3%, while Windows 7’s will slip to 41.2%.

In this linear projection, Windows 7 will boast a user share of more than 32% in January 2020. At that time, Windows 10 should power approximately 59% of all Windows laptop and desktop PCs.

However, it is unlikely that the real expansion of Windows 10’s share and the diminished pool of Windows 7 users will follow this model: Operating systems aren’t adopted or discarded in such a straightway fashion. Instead, the migration rate often accelerates as the end-of-life date for the older OS approaches.

Even so, Net Applications’ data illustrates the problem that Windows 7’s stubbornness represents. If the forecast is in any way close to accurate, hundreds of millions of machines will be running Windows 7 come January 14, 2020, the day Microsoft serves up the final security update for the OS. In turn, that could create enormous opportunities for hackers able to exploit vulnerabilities that will never be patched.

This latest forecast claimed that Windows 7’s remainder-at-retirement will be larger than XP’s at its official demise in April 2014. Then, Windows XP accounted for about 29% of all copies of Windows worldwide, or several percentage points lower than the current estimate for Windows 7.

Elsewhere in Net Applications’ January data, the user share for Apple’s macOS climbed by nine-tenths of a percentage point, an increase on a scale not seen since April 2016 (again, with the exception of the November 2017 bot scrubbing). The boost put macOS at an even 10% of the global personal computer operating system user share, a milestone for Apple and the 34-year-old Macintosh.

Another data source, Ireland’s StatCounter, painted a different picture.

According to StatCounter, Windows 10’s usage share – a measurement of activity rather than of users – exceeded Windows 7’s for January, edging out the older operating system for the first time. StatCounter recorded Windows 10’s usage share at 42.8%, Windows 7’s at 41.9%.

StatCounter ballyhooed the cross-over moment. “This is a breakthrough for Microsoft,” said Aodhan Cullen, the company’s CEO, in a statement. But Cullen also noted that Windows 7 “retained loyalty especially amongst business users,” implying that while 10 now has the upper hand, there are large numbers of machines that still face an OS upgrade before 2020.

windows 10 gains in Jan. 2018 IDG/Data: Net Applications

Windows 10 added the largest chunk of user share to its tally since August 2016, accounting for 39% of all copies of Windows worldwide. The latest projection forecasts that Windows 10 will pass its ancestor, Windows 7, late this summer. 

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Windows by the numbers: December 2017

Windows 10 will replace the aged Windows 7 as the most popular version of Microsoft’s operating system in September, according to the rise and fall of the two editions’ user shares.

But that won’t be the end of Windows 7. Those same trends argue that when Microsoft declares Windows 7 obsolete – and thus, no longer provides it with security updates – the operating system will still account for more than a third of all copies of Windows then in use.

Those projections are derived from data published by analytics vendor Net Applications of Aliso Viejo, Calif., which on Monday revealed the December numbers for Windows 7, Windows 10 and other OSes. Net Applications’ user share is an estimate of the percentage of the world’s personal computers powered by a specific operating system.

Using the 12-month averages of Windows 7’s and Windows 10’s user share changes, Computerworld projects the fall of the former and the rise of the latter over the next two years.

(Windows 7’s support officially expires on Jan. 14, 2020, or just a tad more than two years from now.)

The cross-over moment – when Windows 10’s share of all Windows PCs exceeds Windows 7’s – will come in September 2018. According to the 12-month trend, Windows 10’s share that month will reachj 45.7%, while Windows 7’s will skip to 45.5%. After September, the Windows 10 and Windows 7 lines will continue to diverge as the first keeps climbing and the second keeps dropping.

In that linear progression, Windows 7 will sport a robust user share of nearly 39% in January 2020. At that time, Windows 10 should power approximately 61% of all Windows laptop and desktop PCs.

It’s unlikely that reality will mimic this simplistic model; operating systems aren’t adopted or discarded in such a straightway fashion. Instead, the migration rate from old to new usually accelerates as the end-of-life date approaches. Or migration speeds up, slows down, then speeds up again.

Take Windows XP as an example.

In the final 12 months before its 2014 retirement from support, from May 2013 to April 2014, XP’s user share fell by an average of 1 percentage point per month. But in the 12 months prior to that stretch – May 2012 to April 2013 – its share slipped by an average of just 0.65 points, signaling that XP dumping accelerated in the home stretch. (To really mix things up, in the 12 months from May 2011 to April 2012, or the third-to-last year of support, XP’s share plummeted by an average of 0.81 percentage points, or at a rate about midway between that of the two following years. Go figure.)

By this forecast, Windows 7’s rate of decline, call it the speed of the get-off-Windows-7-train, won’t be fast enough to zero out the OS by the time Microsoft pulls the security patch plug. That’s not a surprise, as the 2009 operating system has lagged behind the pace of Windows XP’s migration train for quite some time.

But the Net Applications’ numbers hint at a potentially huge problem, because the portion of Windows PCs projected to remain on Windows 7 come January 2020 is significantly larger than what remained on XP at its retirement and is also larger than what Computerworld calculated two full years before Windows XP’s deadline.

In April 2014, when Microsoft rescinded Windows XP support, that version accounted for about 29% of all copies of Windows worldwide. Currently, the best-guess for Windows 7 at its end-of-support is a full 10 percentage points higher.

But that’s not even the half of it.

In 2012, two years before XP shuffled off the support scene, Computerworld, using the same 12-month trend that produced a 39% user share for Windows 7 in January 2020, figured that XP would have a mere 17% in user share at retirement. The fact that Computerworld‘s back-of-the-envelope forecast for XP was off by 12 percentage points does not make for much confidence in the 39% mark for Windows 7 in 24 months.

In other words, today’s calculation may be significantly lower than the reality of 2020.

Microsoft has at times resorted to some of the same name calling it used in 2012 for Windows XP when it has talked about the venerable Windows 7, which remains the stock enterprise OS. A year ago, for example, the head of Microsoft Germany said Windows 7 was “long outdated” and argued that the operating system did not meet “the high security requirements of IT departments.”

Expect Microsoft to ramp up that line of attack as Jan. 14 approaches, when Microsoft is almost certain to remind customers that the Windows 7 drop-dead date is two years away and closing fast.

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Windows by the numbers: November 2017

Windows 7 dropped below the 50% user share mark in November, finally ceding the operating system majority on Windows PCs.

Ironically, the decline of Windows 7 was good news for Microsoft, which wants customers to move to the newer Windows 10 as soon as possible.

According to analytics vendor Net Applications, Windows 7’s November global user share fell 3.5 percentage points, ending the month at 43.1%. November’s plunge was the largest ever for the OS that debuted in 2009.

When only Windows personal computers were included in the calculation, Windows 7 ran 48.8% of all Windows machines, a month-over-month drop of 2.6 points. (The Windows-only percentage is larger because Windows powers 88.4% of the world’s systems, not 100%; the remainder run macOS or a version of Linux.)

In Net Applications’ tracking, November was the first month since Windows 7’s mid-2015 peak during that it failed to account for more than half of all Windows editions.

While Windows 7’s November tumble was dramatic, it was as much a push of a big red reset button by Net Applications as proof of massive numbers suddenly fleeing the veteran OS.

As it has periodically in the past, Net Applications reworked how it tracks operating systems, browsers and other metrics of interest to businesses. In a message appended to a refreshed website, the company explained that it had rewritten its “entire collection and aggregation infrastructure to address” misleading data.

The culprits, said Net Applications, were bots, the software-based automatons that mimic humans on the Web and are typically deployed by criminals to boost site traffic so they can cash in on various click fraud scams.

“Bots can cause significant skewing of data,” Net Applications acknowledged. “We have seen situations where traffic from certain large countries is almost completely bot traffic. In other countries, ad fraudsters generate traffic that spoofs certain technologies in order to generate high-value clicks. Or, they heavily favor a particular browser or [operating system] platform.”

Though some may immediately blame the majors shifts in OS user share on Net Applications’ scrubbing its data of bot traffic, that would be only a knee-jerk reaction. “Please note: This dataset is separate from and replaces the legacy data,” the company said, making clear that it had eradicated bot traffic from past data, too, not just the numbers from November.

In other words, Windows 7 was declining faster than thought all along.

Under Net Applications’ new methodology, for example, Windows 7’s user share for October was 43%, or 3.6 points lower than the firm called it using the older, bot-plagued data. The same held true in July, when the new bots-be-gone number (46.1%) was lower than the old bots-still-here number (48.6%). Those differences jibed with Net Applications’ explanation that bot traffic caused off-kilter results; for criminals’ click fraud schemes, it made sense to disguise their bots as Windows 7 users, because inflating those numbers would be easiest to hide.

Assuming that Net Applications cleaned out all or most of the dodgy bot traffic, the numbers should now be more accurate. They certainly will be more welcome at Microsoft.

That’s because the new calculations show Windows 7’s decline ahead of the pace set by Windows XP. With 25 months to go before its April 2014 retirement, XP accounted for 50.7% of all Windows PCs, or nearly two points higher than Windows 7’s share in November. If Windows 7’s drive toward zero is faster than XP’s, it signals customers may be moving promptly to Windows 10 – avoiding a repeat of the panicked final months before support for Windows XP expired.

In fact, Net Applications’ bot-less data made that case: Windows 10 ran on 32% of all personal computers last month, a 2.7-point increase, and powered 36.2% of all Windows PCs. It was the first time that Windows 10 accounted for a third or more of the Windows operating systems worldwide.

But unlike Windows 7 vs. XP, the comparison between Windows 10 and Windows 7 still favors the latter. At the same post-launch point in Windows 7’s lifetime, it had captured an amazing 41.5% of the globe’s Windows devices, or more than 5 percentage points greater than Windows 10 at November’s mark. In other words, Windows 10 continues to lag behind the adoption rate set by Windows 7, and contrary to Microsoft’s claims, is not its fastest-growing version.

Of the other Windows editions monitored by Net Applications, Windows XP accounted for 6.5% of Windows PCs (down), Windows Vista at an almost-invisible 0.5% (stable) and the Windows 8/8.1 combination at about 8.1% (up for some reason).

Net Applications estimates user share by detecting the agent strings of the browsers used to visit clients’ websites. It counts the various operating systems listed in those strings, then weights the results by the size of each country’s online population to better reflect regions where it lacks large numbers of customers.

windows 7 share in nov 2017 IDG/Data: Net Applications

Windows 7 shed the most user share ever last month, falling below the 50% mark for the first time, thanks to a scrubbing of bot traffic from data that estimated OS penetration. Meanwhile, Windows 10 jumped to power more than a third of all Windows PCs.

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Windows by the numbers: October 2017

Windows 7 surrendered a few more users last month as its share of the overall Windows universe slipped a bit closer to 50%.

But if the veteran operating system were a person, it would be that party guest who stayed well past welcome, lingering long after everyone else has left, after the hosts have, in fact, gone to bed. And there Windows 7 would sit, talking without a listener, making itself at home, feet up on the coffee table.

According to metrics vendor Net Applications, Windows 7’s user share in October was 46.6%, a decline of six-tenths of a percentage point. More notable during these times of migration, the operating system ran 51.4% of all Windows machines during the same stretch, a month-to-month drop of seventh-tenths of a point. (The second percentage is larger because Windows was detected on 90.8% of the world’s PCs, not 100%; the remainder ran macOS or a Linux flavor.)

October’s decline was only half that of September, but was still the third largest of 2017.

The continued weakening of Windows 7’s user share – five months of declines and counting – is a promising sign, as the operating systems faces a deadline: Microsoft has set Windows 7’s retirement for Jan. 14, 2020, now little more than 26 months away. The faster Windows 7 relinquishes its user share, the less the chance that businesses will find themselves running unpatched, and thus, vulnerable, machines. No one wants a repeat of the panicky last few months of Windows XP’s lifespan, when companies blew through IT budgets scrambling to purge the obsolete OS.

Yet Windows 7 remains behind the pace set by XP . With 26 months to go before its April 2014 retirement, XP accounted for 49.4% of all Windows PCs, or two points lower than Windows 7’s share in October. Things could be worse: In August, Windows 7 was three points behind XP’s tempo. But the lack of progress in matching XP’s slide toward irrelevance must be disheartening to Microsoft, which continues to sing Windows 10’s praises, and even assert that Windows 7 is not only old and tired, but simply not up to the tasks required of it.

Meanwhile, Windows 10 did see a bump in user share last month of two-tenths of a point, ending October at 29.3%. When only Windows systems are counted, its share of that pool was 32.8%, within shouting distance of the one-in-three milestone. Computerworld calculated that, with the 12-month trend in Net Applications’ data, Windows 10 should pass the 33.3% line during December.

But comparisons of today versus the past again went poorly for Microsoft when putting Windows 10 head-to-head against Windows 7. At the same post-launch point in Windows 7’s lifetime, that version had captured a 36.4% share of all PCs and a remarkable 39.5% of the devices running Windows. In other words, Windows 10 has lagged behind the adoption clip set by Windows 7.

Of the other Windows flavors tracked by Net Applications, Windows XP stood at 7.1% of Windows PCs (up slightly), Windows Vista at an almost-invisible 0.5% (stable) and the Windows 8/8.1 flop combination at 7% (down significantly).

Net Applications estimates share by detecting the agent strings of the browsers used to visit websites, then counting up the various operating systems listed in those strings. It then weights the results by the size of each country’s online population to account for regions where it lacks large numbers of analytics customers.

windows share in oct. 2017 IDG

Windows 7 shed a bit more user share in October 2017, but kept its majority of the Windows installed base. Windows 10 is within spitting distance of a third of the base. (Data: Net Applications.)

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Windows by the numbers: September 2017

If Windows 7 were an actor, it would be a past-prime stage star who overstayed his curtain call and refused to acknowledge his understudy who, just the night before, had wowed the critics and charmed the audience.

Last month, though, Windows 7 ceded a tiny pool of the limelight to that understudy, Windows 10, giving the crowd hope that the aging actor would finally figure out he should exit, stage left, before the theater’s manager got the hook and dragged him off the boards.

According to metrics vendor Net Applications, Windows 7’s user share in September was 48.4%, a decline of 1.2 percentage points. More importantly, the operating system ran 52.1% of all Windows machines during the same stretch, a month-over-month drop of 1.3 points. (The second percentage is larger because Windows was detected on 90.6% of the world’s PCs, not 100%; the remainder ran macOS or some kind of Linux.) This was the largest decline of Windows 7’s user share — an estimate of the percentage of the world’s personal computers powered by the OS — since July 2016.

Encouraging? Yes, if only because Microsoft has set Windows 7’s retirement for January 2020, a date that is quickly approaching. The slower Windows 7 declines in user share, the greater the chance that panicked businesses will overspend to replace the operating system with Windows 10, causing a repeat of the chaotic end times of Windows XP.

Even with September’s share erosion, Windows 7 remained behind the pace set by XP six years ago. But it did close some of the gap. At the same interval before its April 2014 retirement, with 27 months left to go, XP accounted for 51.3% of all Windows PCs, less than a point lower than Windows 7’s share. The month prior, Windows 7 had been three points behind XP’s tempo.

Other sources put Windows 7 in a similar spot. Irish metrics company StatCounter said that Windows 7 powered 44% of all Windows personal computers last month, a 1.1 percentage point dip from the month prior. Meanwhile, the Digital Analytics Program (DAP) also portrayed a downturn for Windows 7. DAP, which tallies visits to more than 4,000 websites maintained by U.S. government agencies, put Windows 7’s September share of all Windows at 48.1%, off over two percentage points from August’s 50.8%.

Windows 10 added 1.1 percentage points of user share in September — three times the increase of the month before — to account for 29.1% of all PCs and 32.1% of all Windows desktops and laptops. By Computerworld‘s latest calculation — using the 12-month trends as shown by Net Applications — Windows 10 will be on a third of all Windows PCs by the end of October.

Net Applications, StatCounter and DAP estimate share by detecting the agent strings of the browsers used to visit websites, then counting up the various operating systems listed in those strings.

chart: Windows version share September 2017 IDG / Net Applications

Windows 7 dropped some user share in September 2017, but kept a slim majority of the Windows installed base last month, while Windows 10 edged close to a third of the installed base. (Data: Net Applications.)

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Windows 7 again retained its majority user share in August, setting the stage for a potentially chaotic migration to its successor, Windows 10, over the next 28 months.

According to analytics vendor Net Applications, Windows 7’s user share in August was 48.4%, a decline of half a percentage point. The veteran operating system, which powers the bulk of enterprise personal computers, ran 53.4% of all Windows machines in the same period. (The second number is larger because Windows was detected on 90.7% of the world’s PCs, not 100%; the remainder ran macOS or one of the many flavors of Linux.)

The problem is that even with a small downturn last month, Windows 7’s share has barely budged since April 2016. In the intervening 16 months, the operating system has gained six-tenths of a percentage point. During the same span of time, other editions have dumped significant user share: Windows 8 and 8.1, for example, unloaded more than 10 points in the same stretch, while the ancient Windows XP dropped 4.6 percentage points.

Windows 10 grew by nearly 13 points over those 16 months.

Windows 7’s refusal to recognize an upcoming retirement – Microsoft will halt all support in January 2020 – meant that it fell even further behind the decline pace set by Windows XP six years ago. At the same mark before its April 2014 retirement, with 28 months left to go, XP accounted for 50.4% of all Windows PCs, about three points lower than Windows 7’s August share.

The difference between Windows 7 and Windows XP at the 29th month mark had been just five-tenths of a percentage point.

Although some analysts have argued that businesses have begun to pack up Windows 7 and deploy Windows 10 – and that the trend will play out more expeditiously than it did when they shifted from XP to 7 – there has been no hint of such in Net Applications’ data.

Other sources put Windows 7 in an even tougher spot. Irish metrics company StatCounter said that Windows 7 powered 54% of all Windows personal computers last month; Windows XP had accounted for just 46.3% of all Windows at the same point in its pre-retirement timeline.

The replacement for Windows 7, the this-OS-is-forever Windows 10, added five-tenths of a percentage point to its share in August – a bit more than half the increase of the month before – to run 28% of all PCs and 30.9% of all Windows desktops and laptops. By Computerworld‘s calculation – using the 12-month trends as shown by Net Applications – Windows 10 will be on a third of all Windows PCs by February 2018.

Net Applications and StatCounter estimate share by detecting the agent strings of the browsers used to visit its clients’ websites, then tallying the various operating systems listed in those strings.

windows 7 market share IDG/Net Applications

Windows 7 has fallen behind the pace that XP set years ago as it headed toward retirement. The enterprise default OS retained a majority of the Windows installed base last month.

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Windows by the numbers: July 2017

“Stubborn” must be Windows 7’s middle name.

The enterprise-standard operating system held onto its majority market share in July, according to analytics vendor Net Applications, again signaling that it will not go gentle into that good night of the retirement that looms in less than two and a half years.

Last month’s Windows 7 user share — an estimate of the percentage of the world’s personal computers it powers — was 48.9%, said Net Applications, but the operating system ran 53.5% of all Windows machines. (The second number is larger because Windows is on 91.5% of the world’s PCs, not 100%.)

Windows 7’s share has barely stirred in the last 15 months, even as other editions have shifted. Windows 8 and 8.1, for example, jettisoned 10 percentage points in the past year, ending July with a user share of 7.9%. Windows 10 gained more than 12 points in the same stretch, almost a full point in July, reaching a 27.6% share of all personal computers — and a 30.2% share of Windows PCs.

As Windows 7 continued to hang onto more than half the world’s Windows-equipped personal computers, it also continued to lag behind the pace of decline of Windows XP at the same mark before its April 2014 retirement. With 29 months left to go, XP accounted for 53% of all Windows PCs, or a slightly lower percentage than Windows 7 in July.

While analysts have argued that businesses will migrate from Windows 7 to Windows 10 more expeditiously than they did from Windows XP to Windows 7 three to six years ago, there’s no hint of that in Net Applications’ data.

Other sources put Windows 7 in the same predicament. Irish metrics company StatCounter said that Windows 7 powered 45.7% of all Windows personal computers last month; Windows XP had accounted for 41.9% of all Windows at the same point in its pre-retirement timeline.

Meanwhile, Microsoft’s replacement, Windows 10, added eight-tenths of a percentage point to its share in July, running 27.6% of all PCs, and 30.2% of all Windows desktops and laptops. By Computerworld‘s calculation — using the 12-month trends as shown by Net Applications — Windows 10 will be on a third of all Windows PCs by January.

Net Applications and StatCounter estimate share by sniffing the browser agent strings of those who visit its clients’ websites, then tallying the various operating systems listed in those strings.

stubbon windows 7 IDG/Data: Net Applications

Windows 7 has just 29 more months of remaining support, but it still commands a majority of the Windows installed base.

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Windows by the numbers: June 2017

Windows 7 in June easily retained its majority, powering over half of all Windows PCs, more evidence that the entrenched operating system will be difficult to pry from enterprises before its scheduled retirement.

The OS will be struck from Microsoft’s support list in two and a half years, on Jan. 14, 2020.

June’s Windows 7 user share — an estimate of the percentage of the world’s personal computers powered by the eight-year-old operating system — was 49%, according to U.S. analytics company Net Applications. However, Windows 7 ran 53.6% of all Windows machines. (The difference between the two figures stems from the fact that Windows powers 91.5% of the globe’s personal computers, not 100%.)

Windows 7’s share has not budged in the last 12 months, even as other editions have gone through substantial shifts. Windows 8 and 8.1, for example, jettisoned 2.7 percentage points in the past year, ending June with a user share of 7.8%. Windows 10 gained nearly 8 points in the same span, posting a 26.8% share of all personal computers for June — and a 32.8% share of Windows PCs.

Microsoft’s customers, including the bulk of enterprises, may have trouble divesting themselves of Windows 7 before the 2020 deadline if Net Applications’ estimates are on the money. In fact, Windows 7’s decline has fallen behind the pace of Windows XP 30 months before its retirement.

At that time, Windows XP powered 52.3% of all Windows PCs, more than a full point lower than Windows 7’s June user share. Customers’ attempts to eradicate Windows XP by its April 2014 due date failed; at the end of that month, 29% of the world’s Windows personal computers still ran the aged OS. (Even now, about 7.6% of the globe’s Windows PCs run XP; a large portion of them are in China, where nearly one in every five personal computers runs the 2001 OS, often a counterfeited copy.)

By lagging behind XP’s reduction tempo, Windows 7 risks ending its support lifecycle with an even larger fraction of the world’s PCs still relying on what will then be an unpatched operating system. And May’s WannaCry cyber-attack illustrated just how dangerous that can be.

Other data sources portrayed a similar situation for Windows 7. Irish metrics vendor StatCounter said that Windows 7 powered 45.7% of all Windows personal computers last month; Windows XP had accounted for 42.5% of all Windows PC operating systems at the same point in its pre-retirement timeline.

A month ago, Net Applications’ numbers for Windows 7 were virtually the same as XP’s in its run toward a support cutoff. And while StatCounter’s data put Windows 7 behind Windows XP’s tempo of decline in both May and June, the gap in June between the two editions was nearly twice that of May’s.

Net Applications and StatCounter estimate share by sniffing the browser agent strings of those who visit its clients’ websites, then tallying the various operating systems listed in those strings.

windows share for June 2017 Data: Net Applications/IDG

With 30 months left before Microsoft retires Windows 7, the stalwart OS stayed in command of the personal computer world.

This story, “Windows by the numbers: Windows 10 passes the 50% share mark” was originally published by

Computerworld.

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