Usage share statistics provide us with information how well a certain product fares after it enters a market. This is true for new web browsers but also operating systems.
Microsoft released the Windows 8 operating system eleven months ago in October 2012. The operating system had a rough start, even with all the promotions the company had going at that time.
Depending on which statistics you look at, you will notice that the initial boost caused by the promotions was slowing down, and that many users did not upgrade their older operating systems to Microsoft's latest.
The growth this months though is different. Netmarketshare recorded an increase by 2.01% for Windows 8, a jump from 5.40% to 7.41%. Windows XP fell at the same time from 37.19% down to 33.66, while Windows 7 rose to 45.63 from 44.49.
How can this be explained? There are a couple of explanations for this.
The majority of users - likely - came from Windows XP. Microsoft did release information about Windows XP's state of security last month, but that was mid-August, and it is highly unlikely that it had a big impact on that month's usage statistics.
New hardware on the other hand ships with Windows 8 in most cases, and while users have options to downgrade to Windows 7, it is unlikely that many will do so. But new hardware has been available before. While some new products entered the market in August, it is unlikely that they made such a big impact in the statistics.
Back to school programs may have had an impact on this, even though it may have been a bit early too make a big impact depending on the country.
When you open the main Netmarketshare website, you will notice an announcement about an "important methodology change" at the top left corner.
This month we start deducting hidden pages from our usage share statistics. Hidden pages are pages that are rendered but never viewed by the user, therefore, they should not be included in usage share data. An example of a hidden page is a page that loads in a background tab upon the launch of the browser and is never made visible.
What this means basically is that the company has removed all page loads of pages from its statistics that are not viewed by the user. It is not clear why XP took the biggest hit here though
An FAQ entry on the website explains the effect of hidden pages on the usage share statistics. It explains that browser prerendering, which Google Chrome does, creates hidden pages that users may not view at all. These pages should not count as page views in the statistics. In addition, a browser's session restore feature may also load pages that users do not view during a session. It is interesting to note that Chrome took a dive in August, likely because of this.
It will be interesting to see how the release of Windows 8.1 and the availability of new Haswell powered PCs will impact the statistics. What is your take on this?