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May 09 2015

The Continuing Story of Windows XP

Although Microsoft called off support for its veteran OS in April 2014, latest statistics from Net Applications reveal that Windows XP's market shares are still higher than those of Windows 8 and 8.1 combined. Far from showing flagship performance, the latter versions hold a segment of just 14.7% overall, achieving only marginal growth during the same time period in which Windows XP should have finally ceased to exist.

Meanwhile, the undisputed market leader Windows 7 has maintained its dominating position on the desktop with a score of 58.39%, up 9% from April 2014, but only 0.35% since March this year. The Net Applications figures support claims from various market observers who have stated that business users prefer Windows 7 over Windows 8/8.1 when finally launching long overdue client upgrades.

Since January, WinXP has dropped by roughly one sixth to its current market share of 15.93%; between April 2014 and April 2015, it lost 10.36%, which means that more than half of last year's traditionalists still stick with the veteran OS. This indicates that while the decline of XP is finally obvious, it does take much longer than Microsoft had hoped. Moreover, the startling survival case of XP also shines an unexpectedly harsh light on the debacle of Windows 8 and 8.1: until the end of April, both editions combined accounted for a meager 14.7% share of the desktop OS market. In fact, the commercial disaster gets even bigger when you look at each edition on its own: last month, Windows 8.1 accounted for 11.2% of PC users monitored by Net Applications – up 0.6% from March and 5.3% from April the year before. Over this latter period, Windows 8 lost over two fifths of its user base, dropping from 6.4 to 3.5% market share. In other words, the 'Windows 8 family' gained a frustrating 2.5% since XP was officially retired for good. Our colleague Chris Merriman over at The Inquirer bluntly calls these results "extremely embarrassing for Microsoft's dreams of mass adoption," but also notes they inspired Redmond to make switching to the upcoming Windows 10 as easy as possible with offering a free upgrade option for "qualified devices" (i.e. those running legitimate copies of Windows 7, 8.1 and 8.1 Phone) in the first 12 months after release.

Aside from the disappointing Windows 8/8.1 sales, however, Microsoft's control of the desktop remains as tight as before, now reaching a total 91% market share. Apple's Mac OS X 10.x comes in a very, very distant second, now holding a 7.36% piece of the action with 7 editions. Meanwhile, Net Applications' findings suggest the oft-predicted Linux revolution has been postponed for yet another year, as desktop market shares for all distributions combined dropped from 1.58% to 1.52% year over year, with a slight 0.02% uptick from March 2015.


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