Windows 8.x claims 10% market share, but Windows 7’s massive gain is the real story

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.

In November, Windows 7’s market share grew by 0.22 percent. Or, to put it another way, gained four times as much market share as Windows 8 and 8.1 combined, which seemed impressive at the time. However, in December, the older OS grew by a staggering 2.62 percent to give it 49.26 percent of the desktop market.

Let me spell it out for you. The heavily promoted Windows 8.x -- two new operating systems combined -- grew by 0.86 percent. Windows 7, the much older non-promoted OS, leapt by 2.62 percent in the run up to -- and including -- Christmas. In other words, in a single month Windows 7 grew by a quarter of Windows 8.x’s total share.

All of this growth has to come from somewhere of course, and it comes at the expense of Windows XP which dropped from 31.22 percent to 27.84 percent, a fall of 3.38 percent. Windows Vista also contributed, losing a modest 0.11 percent share.

Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) grew from 2.42 percent to 2.86 percent in December, for a moderate 0.44 percent gain.

Next month’s market share figures will be interesting, as they’ll show us just what sort of Christmas Windows 8.x had. Can Windows 7 continue to pack on market share, or was December’s surge a statistical anomaly? That certainly seems likely, although you never can tell with Windows 7 which has beaten Windows 8.x's gains in three straight months now.

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