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May 07 2016

Windows 10: Second-Most Popular Desktop OS

Despite much debate, Microsoft's ambitious foray into the SaaS world may eventually pay off: new figures obtained from web analytics firm Net Applications earlier this week suggest it's a downright success – that's good news for Redmond after a couple of rough years.

According to the findings from Net Applications, which are usually published under the Netmarketshare label, Windows 10 now runs on 15.34% of all PCs. That's nearly twice as much as last October, when Net Applications found Microsoft's latest desktop OS on 7.94% of all devices. As a result, Win10 has turned into a solid No. 1 contender for the top position, although its market share still pales in comparison to that of Windows 7: the six and a half year old edition still is the undisputed leader, ruling on slightly less than half (47,82%) of all machines. However, the new OS has finally outpaced several predecessors, namely Windows 8.1 and Windows 8, which now hold respective market shares of 9.85% and 3.19%, as well as the long-abandoned-but-nonetheless-undead Windows XP, which has a home on 10.63% of all PCs even though it hasn't been patched for over two years.

Microsoft's Yusuf Mehdi, Corporate VP of the company's Windows and Devices Group, corroborated these findings in a blog post published on Thursday, stating that Microsoft's own statisticians had counted "300 million active devices" – a figure that nearly triples the 110 million installations that were reported three months after the initial release. Surprisingly enough (or quite unsurprisingly, depending on one's standpoint) Mehdi doesn't offer a substantial explanation for this success, which couldn't be taken for granted after two failed attempts. In particular, he does not elaborate on how Redmond's policy of giving away the OS for free throughout the first year may have contributed or could still contribute to the adoption rates. Instead, we learn (once more) that the Windows 10 Anniversary Update aka "Redstone," which is supposed to offer various enhancements – among them support for extensions in the new Edge browser and a test app that lets potential users assess whether they should switch to the new OS –, is due out this summer. Moreover, the blog post confirms that the free upgrade offer definitely comes to an end on July 29. From July 30 on, customers will either have to purchase new gear or get regular retail copies/volume licenses. Further according to Mehdi, Microsoft will charge $119 for the Home Edition in the U.S., but as usual prices will vary depending on version and region. Finally, the transition from freeware to commercial software will also end the constant nagging of the dreaded GWX installer that has irritated users of Windows 7 and 8.1 for nearly six months and reportedly led to thousands of unsolicited installations – a behavior decried as "Updategate" by various outlets and user communities since Microsoft started to indiscriminately 'recommend' the switch earlier this year.

Users who wish to prevent such troubles can find advice and the required tools (registry keys) on Microsoft's support pages.

 
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