Latest usage shares show slow adoption of Windows 8.1

Latest usage shares show slow adoption of Windows 8.1

Summary: Newly released figures from two popular web analytics firms show a PC market that is essentially static. The most interesting detail: Apple's push to update its installed base to the latest OS X version has largely succeeded, while Microsoft is less successful with its efforts to get Windows 8 users to move to the free 8.1 update.

TOPICS: PCs, Apple, Microsoft

It’s the beginning of the month, which means it’s time once again to peek at the latest estimates of worldwide usage of desktop and mobile operating systems and browsers from Net Applications (aka NetMarketShare) and StatCounter.

Each month the numbers shift a little bit, but the trends rarely change, and the final numbers for August 2014 adhere faithfully to this rule. Those variations in recent months that looked like newsworthy blips were, in reality, statistical noise. For desktop operating systems, the trends are ploddingly simple and the trendlines are straight: Windows continues to dominate in the PC space; Apple has a small global share that belies its influence, especially among the tech elite; and Linux on the desktop is a nonstarter.

I’ve once again updated my rolling charts of the past year’s numbers for desktop operating systems. Because NetMarketShare and StatCounter use different methodologies, the numbers are different, sometimes strikingly so. (If you care about the differences, you can read my explanation here. The short version? NetMarketShare tries to count unique devices, whereas StatCounter tallies overall usage.)


This month’s conclusions?

  • Windows 7 continues to dominate on PC platforms, accounting for more than half of all PCs and Macs in use, regardless of whose numbers you choose.
  • Windows 8.x continues to gain share as consumer PCs (and, to a smaller extent, businesses) purchase new desktop and notebook PCs with Microsoft’s latest OS preinstalled. This month’s worldwide total is 13.4 percent (NetMarketShare) or 15.6 percent (StatCounter).
  • OS X continues to have a small share of the worldwide PC market, with numbers hovering at 6.1 percent (NetMarketShare) or 8.6 percent (StatCounter). If you were to run the numbers in the U.S. only, the percentages would be much higher, of course, reflecting Apple’s concentration on wealthy buyers in mature markets.
  • Google's Chrome OS is stalled on the StatCounter charts, with a minuscule 0.2 percent share for the past five months. Chrome OS still hasn't registered on the NetMarketShare graphs.

Apple has clearly succeeded in one task where Microsoft has stumbled. Roughly 70 percent of all Mac owners are running OS X 10.9 Mavericks, the most recent release. In contrast, Microsoft has not been successful in convincing the same high percentage of Windows 8 users to upgrade to Windows 8.1, despite the vast improvements in the newer release.

Every PC with Windows 8 installed is eligible for the free Windows 8.1 update, which was released nearly a year ago. Yet both firms report nearly identical numbers: some 47 percent of the web traffic counted in August from Windows 8.x PCs came from machines whose owners had not installed the update.

Both upgrades are free. So why have Apple users flocked to the latest OS X while Windows 8 users haven’t adopted Windows 8.1 in large numbers? The explanation is simple: Apple has made it easy for OS X users to find and install the upgrade, while Microsoft has not. In addition, Mac owners are far more likely to visit the online App Store and find the latest version, whereas PC owners who primarily use the desktop are unlikely to even know that the Windows Store exists.

Meanwhile, both analytics firms continue to report strikingly divergent results on desktop browser usage: NetMarketShare reports that Microsoft’s browser, Internet Explorer, continues to be the most used, at 58.5 percent, with Chrome a distant second at 19.6 percent. StatCounter (which measures traffic rather than unique devices) says Chrome is by far the most popular browser, with 49.9 percent of traffic compared to Internet Explorer’s 22.4 percent. The one point of agreement for the two outfits is that Firefox is in third place, apparently to stay.

Topics: PCs, Apple, Microsoft

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  • Lesson learned

    What this means to Microsoft is that they need to make its update smaller, unattended and seamless… a good percentage of pc users never bother to update or are unaware that they should do it and have no clue how to fix a failed update…
    • So you are finally realizing how crappy Microsoft is at software?

      • You have a very hard time understanding what you read...

        and Owl:Net didn't mention quality of software at all.

        Microsoft has simply not made it idiot proof for people to get their upgrades done.
    • Given MS's recent update woes

      This possibly deeply disturbs me.
      Alan Smithie
  • Well duh...

    MS will be announcing Windows 9 in 3 weeks and everybody knows that. So, whoever was thinking of upgrading will wait a few months for the new OS. That easily explains the slowdown in win 8 adoption. But the Apple fanboys who write on this site are always trying to find an angle to slam any tech company that isn't their cult.
    • missing the point

      windows 8 is a complete disaster and just because you dislike or hate win 8 doesnt make you an apple fan boy. in fact,microsoft has turned many customers form loyal windows users to other OS. whole school systems are switching to chrome and that will create even more problems as users get use to chrome and wont see a need to get windows later. the more microsoft tries to force people to use what they dont want,the more consumers will choose other OS.
      • didnt read the article

        Obviously you skipped over like the entire article... Or at least I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt by assuming that is the case, because what other reason could you have to post a comment showing MS hasn't lost any market share saying that MS has lost boat loads of customers?
        • customers

          I agree overall it looks rosy for ms.but chrome was just sitting on a shelf collecting dust until win 8 allowed it to take off. ms is agressivley attacking chrome and apple for a reason. while market share for ms is strong its because of windows 7 not win 8. and it iwll only get worse for ms once win 7 is no longer available next month. and data can be manipulated. such as ms not counting or miscounting returned products as actually being sold or paying people to use products(it already admits it pays people to post positive comments and after its revelation it spies for the nsa, who can really trust ms anymore?). and your also forgetting that whole school systems are switching to chrome,more will follow for a variety of reasons,whether its due to cost or other reasons.
    • Apple fanboys?

      If you are calling Ed Bott an Apple fanboy, you haven't been reading ZDNet much.
  • Windows 8.1

    I have once upgraded from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1. I had to downgrade again. The main reason was that, with Windows 8.1, I was forced to link my Microsoft account to my Windows account to be able to use SkyDrive (now OneDrive). This not convenient because Windows PC is accessible to my family members at home.

    While it is convenient to link Microsoft account on tablets or mobile phones, it is not a good idea on desktop computers.
    • User accounts

      There's a reason you can configure more than 1 user account in your PC ffs.
  • Numbers are not so important by now

    Everything is pretty clear.
    Windows 8 failed, windows 9 will be the real thing. Apple is a steady distant second and linux a steady, barely existent, 3rd.
    Chromebooks share is so small that is not even statistically relevant.
    Microsoft should revise its update process and detach "modern UI" from desktop. Including windows 8 update in the app store is a mistake for a desktop OS... at least how the windows app store works for now.
    • i disagree

      win 8 is just the tip of a slow steady decline by microsoft. microsoft has shown it doesnt care about consumers by promising to do things and then retracting them. ms also isnt to be trusted as it has not only admitted a relationship to help the nsa spy(part of why china and some other government have banned win 8) but ms has been caught breaking into two peoples email accounts this year so far.and mas has stated it will continue to do that when it is in the interest of ms. i wonder why the government didnt do anything.hmm.maybe its cause ms helps the nsa spy. so i foresee windows 9 as being more win 8 than 7,trying to dress a pig in a make up and a dress so to speak. ms knows it has issues,hence why it is on the attack against chrome and apple.
      • Like Windows ME, windows vista, ...

        Microsoft has failed before - like everyone else - there is no decline that can be seen. The only think that happened is that MS missed some good opportunities to become even bigger - but it was not regarding desktops, it was mainly regarding mobile.
        • and look at the Windows market OS fragmentation

          they are going to have so many versions to support and users are going to get further behind in updating.
          when XP users finally upgrade their OS and programs, what version are they going to target, Win Vista, Win 7, Win 8/8.1, Win 9?
          Microsoft can't copy Linux like this with upgrade after upgrade of OS, they are heading for a bigger mess than they are already in
      • FUD

        You're quite good at mixing up truths and lies to stir up FUD about Microsoft. They weren't caught breaking into anybody's accounts. They disclosed it themselves. Also, they have said they will not be repeating such actions without a warrant.
        Also, Apple and Google were also fingered for giving data to the NSA not just Microsoft, but Microsoft is the only one that has taken the NSA to court over it.
        You obviously have a problem with Microsoft, but it seems you have a bigger problem with integrity, being unable to tell it as it is just to pull someone/something/some company down.
  • No Wonder

    It's rubbish, roll on windows 9
    Alan Smithie
  • win 8

    i find it funny how many commentators on win 8 articles talk about apple fanboys when clearly win 8 is dysfunctional. win 9 is going to be a little better but it iwll suffer from some of the same problems as win 8: ms trying to push apps instead of programs,trying too hard to make windows seamless between platforms, update issues, and the nsa relationship. i think too many people assume windows 9 is gonna be much more like win 7 than win 8.
    • how is it dysfunctional?

      It has roughly 4x as much market share in 2 years as Apple in 2+ decades, and roughly 10x the market share of Linux in almost 2 decades.

      Based on share alone it has done quite well for itself. It's certainly no Win7 but then not every release is going to be. I also wouldn't expect Win9 to really take off for probably about at least a year after it gets released, it'll have growth but it wont be much better than Win8 until enterprises start their next upgrade cycle.
      • windows has a huge advantage

        aes, i agree windows 8 has alarger market share.but how many users have taken win 8 off for another os?wonce windows 7 is no longer available,thats when microsoft will be hammered.the warning signs are already there and thats why microsoft is trying to hammer apple and chrome. and linux is starting to pick up. i keep hearing how ms controls a vast majority but thats due to xp and 7. not because of windows 8 and soon to be released win 9. win 9 is gonna be a repackaged win 8 and when people dont have win 7 to fall on,they will look elsewhere. whole school systems are switching to chrome. and one of the biggest reasons is updating.its laughable that ms has updating problems like it did last month where it had to take down updates three days after releasing them because it made win 8 unusable. just every day ms gives people more reason to move to non windows.