I’ll be honest, although Windows 8.x losing market share is a shocking state of affairs -- and a new low for an operating system which has struggled since launch -- it’s something that’s been coming for a while. Windows 8 has been dropping share since Windows 8.1 arrived, and Windows 8.1 has been growing at such a glacial pace it was only a matter of time before the losses outweighed the gains, and that’s exactly what happened in June according to NetMarketShare.
In a month where Windows 7 and Windows XP -- the OS that refuses to die -- both gained market share, "new Windows" shifted into reverse gear and began shedding users.
Around 50 percent of PC users are on Windows 7, while just 12 percent are running Windows 8.x, yet Microsoft is leaving the more popular OS vulnerable to zero day attacks by choosing to only patch the newest Windows version. That’s the findings of two security researchers who built a tool to compare 900 libraries in Windows 8 with their Windows 7 counterparts.
"If Microsoft added a safe function in Windows 8, why does it not exist in Windows 7? The answer is simple, it’s money -- Microsoft does not want to waste development time on older operating systems. They want people to move to higher operating systems," security researcher Moti Joseph claimed in a presentation at the Troopers14 conference in Heidelberg, Germany.
Windows XP users might be able to (sort of) cheat the aging operating system’s end of life, but ultimately the only real way to stay safe is, as Microsoft says, by upgrading to a newer, more modern version of Windows. NetMarketShare’s monthly snapshot of the desktop OS share trend shows users are continuing to slowly migrate away from XP. The OS’s share dropped 1.02 percent from 26.29 percent in April to 25.27 percent in May.
So the question is, where are XP users moving to? I think you probably know the answer to that by now.
Once a month I report on the desktop operating system market share using data from NetMarketShare. The changes in fortune between the different flavors of Windows is usually fairly minimal -- a percentage point gained here, a percentage point lost there. And usually the rise or fall is a lot less than one percent, although as a month is quite a small time scale to measure market share changes over, and we’re talking about millions and millions of Windows users, that’s to be expected.
I decided, out of curiosity, to take a look at what a year’s worth of market share variations would look like, using StatCounter’s Global Stats, and the results were less than thrilling, with the different operating systems showing very little change. In May 2013, Windows 7 had 56.27 percent. 12 months later it is on 55.03 percent. A drop of just 1.24 percent. Windows XP fell 6.73 percent, while Windows 8.x grew 8.16 percent. The pattern is clear -- Windows 8.x sales look to be coming from upgrades (mainly XP) but people are mostly sticking with their older operating systems. Open up the time scale however, and a more dramatic -- and damning -- picture emerges.
I say "shocker", but with all the cards stacked in its favor -- XP users forced to look for a new OS, Windows 7 being pretty hard to get hold of, and an update designed to make Windows 8.1 more appealing to keyboard and mouse users -- if Windows 8.1 hadn’t grown market share in April then it would have been pretty much game over for the tiled OS.
Even with all that in its favor, according to NetMarketShare’s monthly Desktop OS sampling, Windows 8.x still had some stiff competition from Windows 7 which also packed on market share, taking the shine off the new OS’s achievements.
This year’s Build developer conference is set to get underway shortly, and Microsoft will, among other things, be introducing a major update for Windows 8.1 designed to make it more appealing to keyboard and mouse users.
Yesterday I reported on NetMarketShare’s breakdown of desktop operating system market share in March, which showed XP losing some ground, Windows 7 growing nicely, and Windows 8.x creeping upwards still, but very slowly. Today StatCounter releases its figures, and while the percentages are different, the overall picture remains just as gloomy for Microsoft’s tiled operating system.
In a week Windows XP will reach its end of life. Microsoft has done its best to tell people they need to switch operating systems or face the consequences, but if the latest desktop OS share trend from NetMarketShare is anything to go by, Windows XP users really don’t seem too worried. In March, XP’s share dropped just 1.84 percent, from 29.53 percent to 27.69 percent. Hardly the signs of a mass exodus, although at least the share fell this month, unlike the previous two, when XP usage actually went up.
Microsoft has, naturally enough, pushed XP users towards upgrading to Windows 8.x, or "new Windows" as the tech giant likes to refer to it, but Windows 7, or "old Windows" proved yet again to be far the bigger draw.
It's a new month and so once again NetMarketShare reports desktop share for all of the major operating systems. What's interesting this month is all versions of Windows showed fairly minor changes. Whether dropping or gaining, the differences in share were minimal.
However, one inescapable truth is clear from the figures. While Windows 8.x might finally have shifted 200 million licenses, use of the OS has pretty much plateaued. In February, Windows 8's share declined from 6.62 percent to 6.38 percent, a drop of -0.24. Windows 8.1 increased shared from 3.94 percent to 4.30 percent, rising by 0.36. Combined, Windows 8.1 grew by just 0.12 percent.
Windows XP gained a little market share in January -- making for a nice, fun headline -- but the real point of that story is how poorly Windows 8.x appears to be doing. Despite being backed by an incredible advertising and marketing push its adoption rate really is pretty awful.
Two months ago Statista compared the global market share of both Windows 7 and Windows 8.x following their respective launches, plotting the results on a graph, and as I said at the time the difference was stark. Windows 7 showed a steep upwards trend, while Windows 8.x appeared to be heading for a plateau. Statista has since updated its chart, and the difference in fortunes between the two operating systems is now even more pronounced.
I have to admit I look forward to seeing NetMarketShare’s monthly breakdown of desktop OS market share. The figures always provide a great talking point. You can pretty much guarantee that Windows 8’s share will decline, Windows 8.1’s share will increase, and combined the tiled OS’s growth will be outpaced by one of the older versions of Windows.
Usually it’s Windows 7 that’s showing the top growth. Sometimes besting Windows 8.x by a tiny amount, other times absolutely trouncing its newer sibling. But this time around, there’s a brand new leader in the growth stakes, and it’s a 13 year old OS that’s set to reach its end of life in April.
January's Patch Tuesday has seen only four bulletins, with no Critical ones (hooray!) and no patches for Internet Explorer. However, the four bulletins are rated Important and users should apply the related patches as soon as possible.
According to security specialist Trustwave two of the vulnerabilities result in a privilege elevation and a third involves remote code execution utilizing an Office document.
Great news for fans of Windows 8 and 8.1, Microsoft’s divisive operating system has finally claimed 10 percent of the desktop market. According to NetMarketShare, which monitors such things, in December Windows 8 lost 0.01 percent share, but Windows 8.1 grew by 0.86 percent. Windows 8 now has 6.65 percent of the market and Windows 8.1 is sitting on 3.5 percent, bringing the OS’s combined share to 10.15 percent. Great job Windows 8.x.
However, as seems to regularly be the case, the new operating system’s gain was dwarfed by that of its elder sibling. Windows 7 put on a growth spurt that’s nothing short of stunning.
Following Windows market share on NetApplications, as I do every month, it’s clear to me that Windows 8.x isn’t the hit Microsoft hoped for. There are several reasons for this, all of which I’ve discussed previously -- dwindling PC sales, users dislike of touch and the Modern UI, and so on.
Last month Windows 7’s growth outpaced that of Windows 8.x by four fold, and it’s not the first time the older OS has proven the more popular choice either. It’s becoming something of a regular occurrence. Adoption of the tiled OS is slow, very slow. Especially compared with the strong pick up Windows 7 enjoyed from the start.
November was not a good month for Microsoft’s tiled operating system. While Windows 8.1’s market share grew, Windows 8’s share dropped (to be expected as users upgrade). But the real kicker for Microsoft was Windows 7’s growth which saw the older OS easily besting Windows 8.x’s gains.
I really like Windows 8.1 and when people ask me if they should upgrade to the new operating system I say yes, and reel off a list of reasons. But I feel deep down like I’m championing a presidential candidate who no one is ever going to vote for.
Microsoft shows no signs of slowing down. After unveiling a major update to Office Web Apps, today the software giant releases the stable version of Internet Explorer 11 for Windows 7. The latest iteration of the popular browser debuted alongside Windows 8.1 in mid-October and like its predecessor it forgoes supporting older versions of the operating system.
And because Windows 8.1 is being offered as a free upgrade to Windows 8 users, and Microsoft expects everyone to take this step, Internet Explorer 11 is not officially available for the latter OS either. It is a Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 affair only, which speaks volumes of Microsoft's ongoing efforts to drastically reduce Windows XP's market share and push the two Internet Explorer 11-supported operating systems to the forefront.