​ZDNet readers' favorite operating systems: Windows, iOS, and Android

ZDNet's global readers favorite operating systems largely track those of American government visitors, but with some interesting differences.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Windows is the favorite desktop operating system of ZDNet readers. On the mobile front, it's followed by iOS and Android. That largely agrees with the operating system popularity numbers of the federal government's Digital Analytics Program (DAP), but there are also some telling differences.

ZDNet's readers prefer Windows 7, are willing to give Windows 8.1 a chance, and really like iOS and Android as well.
First, our millions of readers over the last sixty days, just like government web sites users, are still using the desktop. Yes, there are a lot of smartphone and tablet users, but 64.1 percent are still using desktop operating systems, while the rest are using tablets or smartphones.

As for the desktop itself, the top operating system is, no surprise, Windows 7 with 33.3 percent of all visitors. Unlike government visitors, ZDNet readers like Windows 8.x. Together Windows 8.0, 2 percent, and 8.1, 13.1 percent, comprise the second place desktop OS with 15.1 percent. These are followed by Mac OS X 10.10, Yosemite, 3.4 percent, and then Linux, 3 percent.

What this tells me is that ZDNet readers, who we can safely assume are more technical than most users, are much more inclined to be adventuresome. We're more likely to give the new Windows 8.x and off-the-beaten-track desktop Linux distributions such as Fedora, Mint, and Ubuntu a try.

As for Macs, which 9.2 percent of government visitors use, 9.4 percent of ZDNet readers use them. In both cases, there are more Mac users than NetMarketShare and StatCounter have reported. For instance, NetMarketShare has Mac OS X at 6.9 percent for February 2015, while StatCounter has it at 8.2 percent for the same month.

Our numbers also agree with the governments in showing far fewer Windows XP users out there than feared. DAP reported that only 3.4 percent of visitors were using XP and we found that only 2.6 percent were coming to ZDNet from XP systems. Vista hangs on with a mere 1.3 percent of our users.

Intel claims that PC sales are down because corporations are holding on to Windows XP, but if they are, they're keeping their machines off the web. While that would be the sensible thing to do that doesn't seem likely to me. I think it's well past time for independent software vendors (ISV)s to cease spending money supporting XP.

On the mobile operating system front, Apple's iPhone and iPad operating system, iOS, came in with 14.6 percent. Android followed it with 11.8 percent. This is a bit less than the government's results. DAP showed iOS with 16.4 percent and Android with 13.9 percent.

The other mobile operating systems barely registered with ZDNet's readers. Only Windows Phone 8.1, 0.8 percent, showed up at all. That's better than the government report, 0.38 percent, but then ZDNet has had a good deal of Windows Phone 8.x coverage. There's been a good deal of talk about how original equipment manufacturers (OEM)s, carriers, and ISVs would like to see a strong number-three mobile operating system, but no one's managed to come up with one yet.

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