At year's end, XP usage plunges as Windows 7 and 8 take over

At year's end, XP usage plunges as Windows 7 and 8 take over

Summary: It looks like PC owners are finally beginning to relax their grip on Windows XP. According to new worldwide usage share data, XP is down sharply, with Microsoft's two fully supported operating systems, Windows 7 and 8, picking up the slack.


[Update 2-Jan 8:35AM PST: The original version of this article was based on numbers published on January 1 by NetMarketShare. On January 2, NetMarketShare published revised numbers. The text and chart in this post have been revised to reflect the details in those changes, which did not affect the overall conclusion.] 

Apparently a lot of people made an early New Year’s resolution to ditch Windows XP.

In the latest NetMarketShare numbers on worldwide operating-system usage, Windows XP’s share dropped sharply, to just under 29 percent. That’s an 8 percent downward shift since July after a decline of only 2 percent in the first half of 2013, suggesting that consumers and businesses that had been procrastinating are finally making good on plans to stop using the soon-to-be-unsupported Windows XP. At this pace, Windows XP usage will be well below the 20 percent mark when the end of the line arrives in April.

The net gains in usage this month went to Microsoft’s two fully supported Windows versions, with Windows 7 rising slightly to 47.5 percent and Windows 8 continuing its steady increase in share. The total usage from Windows 8.x crossed into double-digit territory for the first time with Windows 8 and its free update, Windows 8.1, reaching a combined total of 10.5 percent.

The year ends with a significant change in the mix of Windows versions in use. At the beginning of the year, two Windows versions that had long since ended their mainstream support phase, XP and Vista, made up about half of usage from the installed Windows base. By year’s end, the two combined were barely over 32 percent and the Windows 7/8 combo had climbed to 58 percent of the usage share. (Only the bitterest diehards continue using Windows Vista, which is now at 3.6 percent. Interestingly, that number is identical to the share of usage for Windows 8.1 after only two months on the market, and both operating systems, one on its way out, the other in its ascendancy, garner more usage than any single version of OS X and more than double the share of Linux on the desktop.)

I’ve put together a chart, based on the NetMarketShare data, to show how the mix of Windows versions changed dramatically over the course of the year. Windows continues to enjoy a roughly 90 percent share of the market for conventional PCs, down less than 1 percent from the year's start. But Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 (blue and blue-gray at the bottom of the chart below) are inexorably crowding out XP and Vista (orange and yellow, respectively). That trend will certainly continue. (And despite the negative year-over-year growth rates, PCs will continue to sell in large numbers—close to 300 million per year, according to estimates from Gartner and IDC.) 


 Data: NetMarketShare December 2013

Apple and Microsoft have both shown continued success in their efforts to convince their user bases to accept free upgrades to the latest version. This month, Windows 8.1 usage represents 34.4 percent of all Windows 8.x PCs, up from 28.4 percent last month. Apple has convinced 39 percent of its eligible installed base (those running OS X 10.6+) to update, an increase from 33.9 percent last month.

Worldwide usage of Apple's OS X stalled in 2013, ending the year more or less where it began, with around 7.5 percent of worldwide usage. That's still a tremendously profitable business segment for Apple, and the flat line also reflects Apple's resounding success with its iPad line, which is not counted in these numbers. For Mac users, as my colleague Larry Seltzer notes, that stubbornly small market share has a silver lining, with online criminals treating the Mac installed base as not worth bothering with.

The latest numbers on worldwide desktop operating system share from StatCounter tell a similar story, with Windows 7 and 8 logging a 54.8 percent and 10.5 percent share, respectively. Windows XP is below the 20 percent line, dropping nearly 7 percentage points over the course of the year. One tidbit from the StatCounter numbers: Chrome OS has gone from tiny blip to blip, doubling its usage share in one month from 0.05 percent to 0.1 percent, a number that translates to one Chromebook for every 100 Windows 8 PCs. That absolute number isn’t enough to worry Microsoft execs, but if that sharp jump is the beginning of a new trend line, it could turn into several percentage points before the end of 2014.

The December NetMarketShare numbers for desktop browsing have changed little in recent months. Internet Explorer ended the year up 2.5 percent, at roughly 58 percent of the total. Firefox and Chrome are in second and third, with 18.4 and 16.2 percent, respectively. Internet Explorer 6 and 7 are on life support, with usage figures totaling 6.6 percent. Internet Explorer 8 is still the most popular version, with 20.6 percent usage, but the more modern versions, 10 and 11, combined to exceed that number with 21.5 percent. The higher percentage of use for Internet Explorer 10 is no doubt attributable to the fact it's now delivered as an automatic update for Windows 7 and the default in Windows 8; Internet Explorer 11 is the default browser in Windows 8.1.

Topics: Operating Systems, Apple, Windows, Windows 8

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  • Doesn't look that sharp from the graph . . .

    Doesn't look that sharp from the graph . . . am I missing something?
    • Poor graph choice

      His premise is that this year, versus last year, has been a drastic change. His graph shows gradual change. As such, it doesn't support the premise very well. He really should have used a pair of pie charts displaying the end of this year, versus the end of last year. The difference would be far more noticeable.
      • ...and ChromeBook taking 21% slice of portables in USA...

        "Chromebooks accounted for 21 percent of all notebook* sales, up from negligible share in the prior year, and 8 percent of all computer and tablet sales through November, up from one tenth of a percent in 2012 – the largest share increase across the various product segments."


        The main reason is likely that people not only just don't need XP, they don't need Windows PC at all. Winners have been ChromeBook and tablets, especially those using Linux-based operation system.

        Mobiles: 80%
        non-mobiles: 20%

        1990's will never come back, Ed.
        Napoleon XIV
        • That's in the U.S. commercial channel only

          The commercial channel represents businesses and, crucially, education buyers. Not representative of the PC population as a whole.
          Ed Bott
          • While I doubt chromebooks are any near 20%

            I doubt they are as small 0.1% in the US.
            Web usage can be good to see sales trends, but I doubt they can be used to compare sales in different type of devices.
            One example is that netmarketshare places iOS ahead of android.
          • You are confusing two things

            Market share records what percent of current *sales* are for a certain product.

            Usage measures *installed base*... Even a newcomer with 100% of the current market will make only a small immediate blip in the installed base.

            This is about behavior of the installed base, which changes slightly each month as people retire old devices and put new ones in service.
            Ed Bott
          • Au Contraire

            Gee, I see something entirely different from the graph. I see W7 dominant and holding steady, I see XP slowly declining but only because of W8 and W8.1.

            And of course we all know that people are not "choosing" W8/8.1, they have no choice if they buy a new computer. So I think XP is showing great staying power.

            All of our systems are running XP very happily and will continue to do so until there is software that we need that can't run on XP.
        • Napoleon XIV, I call BS!!

          Chromebooks (Android) sales to direct users has increased but the losses suffered are for Windows 8 Tablets (Bad idea), Mac iPads (way over priced) and all other Linux based tablets (next to almost useless software)! And the only reason is because of prices being held below $300!! Now other reason!
        • Chromebooks incredibly cheap

          Another possibility of the growth of Chromebooks (other than they are dirt cheap) is that for the majority of users with a desktop PC, they don't need a full featured PC - the desktop already does that. So if you are simply looking for a cheap email reader, other than an Android tablet, Chromebook is the cheapest option. Androids generally don't have keyboards, so they really aren't an option for those looking for something portable. The reason people don't keep upgrading their desktops is simple, what they have is good enough, and there's nothing compelling or new that makes them want to upgrade. I don't see that changing any time soon.
          Ele Truk
        • Not Necessarily

          Just don't see how you can make that claim -- unless we actually see a "decrease" in desktops -- meaning people are tossing out their desktops in big numbers -- which we don't. I have a tablet -- but that doesn't mean my tablet has replaced my PC. I use both!
          • And I bet the PC is a few years old,right?

            THAT is what the other poster was pointing out, that PCs went from being "good enough" to insanely overpowered and now they are appliances that you don't replace until they break.

            Even gamers like myself, who USED to replace my PC every other year (with a major overhaul at the halfway point) simply don't see a point in replacing. My PC is nearly 4 years old, has an AMD X6 processor, 8Gb of RAM, 3Tb of HDD space, why would I need a new PC? The only part I changed out this Xmas was replacing the HD4850 with an HD7750 and that should last me a couple of years easily.

            The other sore point is many hate Windows 8 and so are staying with what they have rather than get stuck with that eyesore. My dad's brand new laptop? Stays in the case because even with Start 8 replacing metro Windows 8 will still drive you nuts with the stupid charms bar so he went and got an Android tablet and now just uses that. If MSFT has a brain Windows 9 WILL be Windows 7.1 and they'll leave metro for cellphones and tablets.
            PC builder
          • Not replacing ...

            Too right, PC Builder. My wife's netbook is 5 years old and staggers under WinXP, so I got her a ChromeBook (Acer 710-2688) for Christmas. Liked it so much I got one for myself too! My main PC? a System-76 Bonobo laptop with a 4 core i7, 17.4" screen, 32 GB RAM, and a terabyte of disc. 2 years old and still haven't seen anything affordable to touch it! I run Windows in VirtualBox for things that only run on Windows - Linux Mint otherwise.
        • My personal opinion

          The bump in consumer ChromeBook sales is much like the bump in netbook sales. People are buying less than what they realize they need or its being gifted to them. They might use it for a few months but then it goes in the closet or given to someone else or sold.

          Not a dig on ChromeBooks, just like netbooks has their uses, so does ChromeBooks, the fans know what they are buying, the average user does not.
          Rann Xeroxx
        • Chrome book..

          I just don't buy it. Where are they.. I mean I guess, they are being sold but I just don't seem them. I monitor our corporate wireless and I've only ever seen one of them.
      • Plunged!!!

        From 34% last year, to around 27%. Much like the Pilgrim women neckline, not plunging enough for me to get excited about.

        I guess they can't call it a dip as that usually refers to there being a comeback. Maybe the headline should read, Noticeable Decline.
        Daniel Bissell
      • @BillDem .. i concur, this is simply another Bott attempt

        to: (1) create flame-bait, (2) deliberately misrepresent data (and consequently, deliberately eschew attention from the actual facts), (3) Put forward a posit based on erroneous conclusions - and somehow expect the public at large to accept the error(s) / lie(s) as fact(s) or truth(s).

        In the same way SJVN posts selective data and then distorts things to suit his "Linux-tinted spectacles" view of the world, so does Bott in regards (almost) all things Microsoft.

        Same old, same old ... the only change being the new calendar.
    • We didnt give up easily we had no choice

      You had no real choice to change from xp to 7 hell i would of long ago if they would re design the wheel 100 times for a new os. If Microsoft kept things and quit re doing the whole damn OS every few years they would be more popular
      Rhett Dudley
    • Doesn't look that sharp from the graph . . .

      The reason is because many XP Users simply cannot afford the huge cost of upgrading. What I did was download Robolinux which runs XP inside it, sandboxed, immune to viruses and malware, which requires no future patches from Microsoft. This saved me hundreds of dollars.
  • A Metro version of Office on Windows 8 can change everything

    If MS can deliver a Metro version of Office on Windows, which delivers innovative document production and consumption user experiences, this could significantly disrupt the tablet market. People would finally understand Windows 8 apps in the context of business and productivity; it would send the signal that the business market has not become stale, and is many ways more exciting than the consumer market. The above could also lead to a heavy reliance on electronic documents consumed on touch screens, which avail themselves to easy, rich annotations, ad hoc collaborations, various types of electronic distributions, ad hoc communications, etc. Finally, Office apps which can produce living documents supported by Bing services, which allow users to do things such as zoom in and out of a map, tap on a phone number to initiate a call, explore a 3D diagram supported by a cloud service which allows users to endlessly zoom in and out of something like the human anatomy, would propel MS' tablet efforts well ahead of the competition.
    P. Douglas
    • or not

      Annotations aren't already possible? Well, maybe not in locked-down Excel workbooks, but simple enough to save as PDFs and annotate those.

      Given the dearth of workplace computers running Windows 8.x and the unlikelihood that the numbers would change much during 2014, MSFT coming out with a WinRT-only Office version would convince many of their enterprise customers to cancel software assurance plans and only pay for Office when they actually upgrade.

      Then there's the extreme unlikelihood that the first WinRT version of Office would be full featured. Far more likely the first WinRT version will be packaged with the next desktop Office version and available as an add-on.

      There are already living documents. They're call web pages.