Windows 7 continues to roll as XP fades away

Windows 7 continues to roll as XP fades away

Summary: For four years, I've been tracking the share of Windows versions. The latest numbers show unmistakable trends: Windows users are replacing XP machines with new PCs running Windows 7 at a steady clip. Meanwhile, Windows Vista is fading rapidly into a historical footnote.

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Measuring the rate of adoption of various operating systems is always a tricky task, but some big trends are easy to spot no matter which metrics you use.

For Microsoft Windows, the markers are unmistakable: Windows XP continues its steady decline. Windows 7 continues its steady advance. Windows Vista is fading rapidly into a historical footnote.

This morning, StatCounter, a website analytics company, announced that more people are using Windows 7 than are using XP. I think they've jumped the gun a bit, but not by much.

For the last four years, every April and October, I've recorded statistics from another web analytics firm, Net Market Share, which publishes snapshots of PC usage based on data from 160 million visits per month to its large collection of sites (the exact methodology is here). The monthly reports on operating system versions provide an ideal snapshot for my purposes, with data that goes back far enough to see meaningful trends.

Here's the latest chart. It bears an uncanny resemblance to the numbers I projected more than a year ago:

A few facts are worth noting about these numbers.

The Net Market Share percentages represent web site visits, which includes a mix of business and consumer users. As such, they're a pretty good proxy for the market as a whole.

These trend lines illustrate how spectacularly Windows Vista failed in the marketplace. Vista hits its peak of usage, not surprisingly, in October 2009, the same month that Windows 7 was introduced. After three years on the market, it had not cracked the 20% mark—Windows 7 hit that number after only a year. As of October 2011, Vista's share has declined to 8.8%, and it will probably be below the 5% mark next year at this time.

By contrast, Windows 7 has reached roughly 35% share in just two years and shows no signs of slowing. I've drawn trend lines on this chart to estimate when the shares for Windows XP and Windows 7 will cross. That should be in about six months, although recent numbers suggest that Windows 7 is picking up steam.

As always, the overwhelming majority of copies of Windows are sold with new hardware. Windows users are retiring older PCs running Windows XP and replacing them with newer PCs running Windows 7. In September, Microsoft announced that Windows 7 had sold 450 million copies worldwide, at a pace that appears to be increasing as the operating system ages.

Finally, I'm always interested to see how Windows is faring against other, competing PC operating systems. Mac OS X worldwide continues to grind out an increasing share. In the past two years, it has gone from 5.3% to 6.9%. At that rate, the number of Macs will pass the number of PCs running Windows Vista sometime in 2012.

Meanwhile, Linux usage—as measured by web browsing activity—is still just a blip. But there are faint signs of growth: The 1.2% share for all distros of Linux is the highest level recorded by Net Market Share in the four years I've been keeping stats.

Windows XP is counting down to the day when it will no longer be supported in any fashion by Microsoft. According to the widget on my desktop, XP's end of life is exactly 888 days away—still too far out for anyone to panic.

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Topics: Software, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Windows

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44 comments
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  • RE: Windows 7 continues to roll as XP fades away

    Desperate for copy Ed conjures a few hundred words. "Time marches on!!!" Fascinating, Ed, really earthshaking.
    laufman.1@...
    • Charming

      @laufman.1@... <br><br>And you had to be first to comment on this "meaningless" post. Which makes you what?
      Ed Bott
      • Pathetic?

        @Ed Bott
        ;)
        John Zern
      • Well, duh!

        @Ed Bott

        Still not as bad as the person who wrote the meaningless post to begin with.
        mwidunn
      • RE: Windows 7 continues to roll as XP fades away

        @Ed Bott

        Microsoft announced this news back at BUILD in September. And nearly every stat tracking firm has confirmed it, yet you're still skeptical?

        This article is a waste of space.
        cool8man
      • Delightful

        It would make him delightful. After all, your "proposition" is hardly rocket science and barely capable of raising a "Hmmm, that's not something I would have thought of."

        Besides, you also imply that you (as in personally) were tracking this. I'd hazard that you're more likely to just glean data off a few sites which do purport to track OS usage.

        So, what a charming (yet utterly meaningless) blog from you.
        ego.sum.stig
      • RE: Windows 7 continues to roll as XP fades away

        @Ed Bott It would be interesting to see UBUNTU included in this. I understand that it isn't an MS operating system. But with Windows 7 being so dramatically different than XP, I know many novice users switching to UBUNTU\WINE over a Windows 7 migration. I also know many using 7 now that would load XP if they had a copy to load. It's getting harder to find. But I think these are also on the fence and may eventually mirate to some Linux flavor or a tablet OS.
        Socratesfoot
      • RE: Windows 7 continues to roll as XP fades away

        @laufman.1@...<br><br>Good point. Thanks for bringing that up.<br><br>Fortunately MSNBC doesn't agree with Ed<br><br><a href="http://technolog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/10/25/8482818-windows-xp-turns-10-still-thrives" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://technolog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/10/25/8482818-windows-xp-turns-10-still-thrives</a><br><br>http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44872991 ;)
        ScorpioBlue
      • RE: Windows 7 continues to roll as XP fades away

        @ScorpioBlue

        Actually SB, that chart shows EXACTLY the same numbers that Ed's does, within a point or 2. I think reading comprehension is lost on you. Look at the figures in Ed's chart, the dates listed on both, and then compare the numbers on both for the same time frame, then shut up and learn to read.
        BrewmanNH
      • RE: Windows 7 continues to roll as XP fades away

        <i>Actually SB, that chart shows EXACTLY the same numbers that Ed's does, within a point or 2.</i><br><br>It does? Gee, looking at the side bar of Eds chart (as of October), that looks to be more about 43% for XP and 38% for Windows 7. We can't know for sure though, based on the primitive graphics. <br><br>The chart I posted has XP at roughly 34% for XP and about 25% for Windows 7 in the U.S.<br><br>Globally its far worse with XP at 51% while Windows 7 is at a measly 24%<br><br><i>I think reading comprehension is lost on you. Look at the figures in Ed's chart, the dates listed on both, and then compare the numbers on both for the same time frame, then shut up and learn to read.</i><br><br>Look who's talking, since you didn't bother to scroll down to the second Global chart on the weblink I listed. Selective reading, perhaps? Denial? ADD?<br><br>Don't tell me it was too much of a read for you.
        ScorpioBlue
      • RE: Windows 7 continues to roll as XP fades away

        @Ed Bott hilarious!
        jerang@...
    • --I'll definitely be doing a refresh replacing XP with 7

      @laufman.1@...

      Only those legacy fat clients will be repaced by Thin Clients running Linux and connecting to VMs of 7 running in the Datacenter.

      For the users, the change is that Desktop box is gone with a solid state thin client on the back of their Display.

      Other than that, they see 7 and have 100% Windows functionality.

      For me, it becomes central administration from a hypervisor management console.

      BTW, those 7 vms all sit in their own SELinux sandbox.

      Thanks Ed.
      Dietrich T. Schmitz *Your
      • Nice

        @Dietrich T. Schmitz * Your Linux Advocate wrote:
        "BTW, those 7 vms all sit in their own SELinux sandbox.

        I'm running one of my virtualized, desktop Linux systems sandboxed in Windows Vista. One can't be too careful with Linux.
        Rabid Howler Monkey
    • RE: Windows 7 continues to roll as XP fades away

      @laufman.1@... This type of article is sadly necessary. Sometimes you need to restate the obvious over and over in order to get through the thick skulls of upper management who think a dangerously insecure OS from the last century is still good enough. Those people need to see information dozens of times before they start believing it. They also need to see that most other businesses are finally headed a different direction before they will change course. It's country club herd mentality.
      BillDem
    • RE: Windows 7 continues to roll as XP fades away

      @laufman.1@... <br><br>These are good checkpoint articles. Two years from now, it's helpful to have bits like this, even if they don't represent "earthshaking" news, because technology moves so fast. I'd like to see more little items like this.
      Will Fastie
    • RE: Windows 7 continues to roll as XP fades away

      I Love Windows 7. It's great. Deleting the %temp% files makes it run even more quickly, on top of it already being fast. Also Windows Classic mode makes things more performance-smart furthermore as well.
      imanerd11
  • RE: Windows 7 continues to roll as XP fades away

    The faster XP disappears, the better off we'll all be.<br><br>Now I'll sit and wait patiently for XP's law to kick in. :)
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • RE: Windows 7 continues to roll as XP fades away

      @Cylon Centurion

      That's 2014 so you have plenty of time to tap your toes.

      lol...
      ScorpioBlue
  • RE: Windows 7 continues to roll as XP fades away

    I had better ramp up my migration from XP to Ubuntu
    Andrew Happ
    • We just finished upgrading our office machines to Windows 7

      @Andrew Happ
      The employees really like it. We should have upgraded sooner.
      John Zern