Windows 7 overtakes XP; Mac OS X steams ahead of Vista

At long last, Microsoft Windows 7 has overtaken the 11-year-old Windows XP on Netmarketshare's web-based tracking network, while Mac OS X is now a percentage point ahead of Vista. There are also new numbers for mobile operating systems and browsers.
Written by Jack Schofield, Contributor

Microsoft Windows 7 has finally overtaken the 11-year-old Windows XP operating system on web-based market share figures from Netmarketshare. Also, Apple's Mac OS X has overtaken Windows Vista this summer, if all versions of Mac OS X are combined.

Windows 7 overtook Windows XP a long time ago on many individual websites and on other web-based trackers. However, Netmarketshare's numbers are balanced to reflect PC use in Asia, including China, where pirate copies of XP are in widespread use. Apart from that, XP has also hung on because of its use by government organisations and large enterprises that are slow to spot trends and congenitally averse to change.

OS Market share graph to 31 August 2012

XP's market share has steadily eroded from 61.91 percent in September 2010 to 42.52 percent today, while Windows 7's share has grown from 17.64 percent to 42.76 percent over the same period. There's still not much in it, as the graph above from Netmarketshare shows.

Windows 7's share should continue to grow as it has now become the corporate standard, and enterprises have woken up to the fact that "Windows 7 is the new XP". It's a pity they didn't work this out three years earlier, because that might have saved them a substantial amount of time and money.

Over the same two years, Windows Vista's market share has more than halved from 13.75 percent to 6.15 percent. This decline enabled Apple's Mac OS to overtake Vista this summer, according to Netmarketshare's numbers. Mac OS X's market share now stands at 7.13 percent. This includes versions 10.8 (1.41 percent), 10.7 (2.45 percent), 10.6 (2.38 percent), 10.5 (0.70 percent), 10.4 (0.17 percent) and unspecified (0.02 percent).

Since October 2011, Windows' total market share has declined by .09 percentage points from 91.86 percent to 91.77 percent, while Mac OS X has grown by 0.19 percentage points from 6.94 percent to 7.13 percent. In a three-horse race, Linux has declined slightly from 1.19 percent to 1.10 percent. This may represent some open source supporters buying proprietary Macs, as described by Gnome co-founder Miguael de Icaza in a recent blog post, What Killed the Linux Desktop.

It's unlikely that Netmarketshare's numbers are anything like that accurate, but 92/7/1 is probably roughly right.

Apple rules on mobiles

When it comes to mobile/tablet operating systems, Netmarketshare has Apple's iOS growing from 61.50 percent to 65.94 percent, and Google Android growing from 18,86 percent to 20.93 percent since October 2011. The losers include Java ME (8.37 percent), BlackBerry (1.9 percent) and Symbian (1.44 percent). Netmarketshare credits Windows Phone with 0.62 percent and Windows Mobile with 0.08 percent.

The mobile numbers are probably not a good guide to actual sales. The number of Windows PCs that are never used to browse the web must be relatively small, but huge numbers of mobile phones are not used for web browsing, including some that are quite capable of doing it.

And so to browsers

In the section for desktop browsers, Microsoft's Internet Explorer has increased its market share by almost a percentage point to 53.60 percent since October 2011. Google Chrome's market share has grown by more than two points to 19.13 percent, while Firefox's has fallen to 20.05 percent, just barely ahead. Apple's Safari has also lost a little market share, falling from 5.43 percent to 5.10 percent over the year.

However, IE has not sustained the growth it showed in the year's first quarter, and its market share has fallen by half a point from its 54.09 percent share in April 2012. This is a poor performance given the dramatic improvements to IE9 and IE10.

As you'd expect, Safari dominates in mobile/tablet browsing with a market share of 66.53 percent, ahead of Android (19.97 percent) and Opera Mini (8.59 percent).

For security reasons, Apple does not allow rival browsers to access the fast Nitro JavaScript engine that mobile Safari uses, giving Safari a significant performance advantage. Further, Apple does not allow users to set another browser as the default. Its lead is therefore likely to survive for some time.


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