Steam survey shows Windows 8 on the rise, beats XP

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 3, 2013
Windows, Windows 8

There are not many reliable sources for operating system market share trends. Microsoft for instance does not reveal those information even though it could, and usage trend sites like W3schools or Net Market Share do not have the reach to paint a clear picture. This becomes obvious when you compare trends with each other.

Lets take Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system as an example. Netmarketshare sees Microsoft's newest operating system at 2.67% of all systems in February 2012 which is barely in front of Apple's newest system Mac OS X 10.8.  But when you look at W3Schools, you will notice that the site sees Windows 8's usage share by 4.8% which is nearly double of the Netmarketshare value, and that's missing a whole month of data.

Many gamers are usually on the forefront when it comes to technology, and the main reason for that is that games are more demanding than the majority of other applications one can run on the system. The February 2013 Steam survey should still come as a surprise to many who have predicted that Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system will fail big time. In it, the operating system snagged away Windows XP"s third place in combined operating system share.

According to Valve's survey, Windows 8 systems account for 9.63% of all user PCs that took part in the survey. It is up that month by 0.87% and trailing Windows 7 which is the dominating system on Steam with more than 68%. As far as Windows XP goes, it is having a combined share of 9.33% and lost 0.72% since the last survey took place.

steam os market share screenshot

It needs to be noted that Steam surveys are optional which means that the statistics are generated from part of the userbase and not all of it. Still, the Windows 8 share is high, probably the highest right now on the Internet. There are explanations for that though. Gamers are more inclined to purchase new hardware due to the taxing nature of computer games. It is reasonable to assume that a larger portion of gamers buys new PCs more frequently than home users who do not play the latest computer games.

Windows 8 shipped exclusively with DirectX 11.1 and while that is a gaming related feature exclusive to the operating system, it is unlikely that it played a large role in the decision making process to upgrade to Windows 8 or purchase a PC running the operating system.

So how does this compare to Windows 7's performance at the same time? According to Arstechnica, Windows 7 had a combined market share of 28.53% five months after its release.

If you are wondering about other stats. Intel is beating AMD with 72.39% to 26.71% in PC processor usage by manufacturer, and NVIDIA is beating ATI with 52.39% to 33.92% in PC graphics card usage. You can check out the latest Steam survey here. Note that you need Flash Player for some of the statistics and information.

Have another explanation for Windows 8's high usage on Steam?


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  1. zefyx said on March 24, 2013 at 7:20 am

    Windows 8, StartIsBack, and ModernMix are Windows 7 perfected.

  2. Robert said on March 5, 2013 at 11:01 am

    I just looked at those numbers this morning at NetMarketShare. Windows XP is still listed with 38.99% market share, which is about 5½ percent behind the leader Windows 7, and 7.5 times more than its next highest competitor, Windows Vista.

  3. blue_bsod said on March 4, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    The rise of Windows 8 maybe because MS dropped the prices drastically at the end of December of last year and offered it as low as $14.99US. Then only two weeks before that offer ended, they annouced, “MS is ending support of XP SP3 on April 18th, 2014”. If you didn’t hear that before January 31, 2013, then you’re stuck paying full price again.

    I still prefer XP for gaming and it’s un-neutured version of Explorer.exe which is fully functioning. In later versions of Windows Explorer kept changing to the point in Windows 7 it is missing a lot of basic function and in Windows 8, its like working with both arms tied behind your back and it’s functions is even less than what Windows 7 users go through.

  4. Nerdebeu said on March 4, 2013 at 6:18 am

    As explained above, I think on Steam, there are many more advanced users, geeks who want the latest developments. The latest OS, but also and especially the latest DirectX. Moreover, Microsoft has tried to force the hand to use Windows 8, at least among players since version 11.1 is not available on Windows 7.Must still go to the evidence that Windows 8 is a colossal failure, worse than Vista at the time (just look at the statistics Vista first 4 months and compare them to those of Windows 8 and if you want to be bad with those of Windows 7).

    Myself, I bought PUL version of Windows 8 to have more freedom as an update. If I bought the license, I must say that I never or almost never on Windows 8 (2 days per week maximum). The rest of the time I’m running Windows 7.

    The reason I bought a version that I do not like is simple. I am aware of the new Microsoft policy with major updates of the OS rather frequent and rapid. Blue Windows, for example going to happen this summer. I do not want to be totally late, totally behind in 2 years because I would not have taken the plunge.

    However, Windows 7 is for me the best OS that Microsoft has launched, and will probably remain for long. Windows 8 faults are many more than just StartScreen useless on a desktop PC, the system does not seem “finished” and suffers from many small annoying bugs, responsiveness of SSD is not that we say everything depends on the SSD. If Windows 7 is installed on an SSD a little faster than the one on which Windows 8 is installed, while the responsiveness of Windows 7 will be superior.

    Windows 8 grows more unnecessary clicks and reduces productivity. Anyway, I do not feel at ease in this OS, nothing for me there is instinctive, mechanical. I have the impression of wasting my time on this OS, and I feel not well with this system.

  5. nocturne said on March 4, 2013 at 1:13 am

    The ONLY good thing exists in Windows 8 is new and updated technology implementation (like the “exclusive” DirectX 11.1). So, no wonder if some gamers, NOT most gamers switched to Windows 8.

    1. EuroScept1C said on March 4, 2013 at 4:58 am

      Also, believe me… I’m not that guy who always think conservative or afraid the ‘new’. Everything on my PC is up-to-date, and I even install beta versions of some programs. Especially when it concerns Windows-related things…

      I was one of the first to install Vista which wasn’t as bad and eventually became truly good. But what’s going on with Windows 8… It’s something different. I just don’t accept a messy, hybrid tablet-desktop OS. MS truly ignored traditional users. Do you see the horrible font rendering on Metro UI, Metro Apps and Metro/desktop IE10? This hideous font rendering is driven by tablets and their high DPI monitors. Though, MS know there are no high-DPI PC monitors ( very few exceptions ).

      The only program I stopped “updating” is the μTorrent ( v. 2.2.1 ) because only bloat after that version… It became a giant billboard. Now, the second is… Windows 7!

    2. EuroScept1C said on March 4, 2013 at 4:50 am

      That’s what I’m talking about… DX 11.1 doesn’t offer anything particularly interesting for gamers, trust me… The most interesting updates Windows 8 got, they now came to Windows 7…. The Platform Update that you get as a stand-alone update or with IE10, it’s exactly the most interesting, performance-wise improvement.

      All I’m trying to say, Windows 7 already got enough features from the improved Windows 8. In the future, I’m pretty sure even more updates will find their way onto Windows 7… And it’s normal since Windows 7 would be the new “XP” for the current decade…

  6. EuroScept1C said on March 4, 2013 at 12:17 am

    New PCs and the usual gamers which usually belong to “enthusiast” category… And it’s still incredibly low percentage. Vista all over again.

    Meanwhile, Windows 7 along with IE10 got the platform update, which became Win8-like, but without built-in marketplaces and tablet-related bloat. It remained a clean, pure desktop PC. Highly recommended even if you get a PC now with Windows 8 to go back on Windows 7. .

  7. sades said on March 3, 2013 at 10:56 pm

    Good for all those who have vested interest with Windows 8 I guess. :)

  8. ilev said on March 3, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    It won’t change the fact that for now Windows 8 is a greater disaster than Vista, with 2.67% in February, up only 0.4% from January, which mean stagnate sales. Considering that almost all new PCs come pre-installed with Windows 8. It seems like the majority of new buyers are downgrading to Windows 7.
    Windows 7, after 4 months, had 9%.

    1. RED-404 said on March 3, 2013 at 11:34 pm

      I don’t understand downgrading from Windows 8 to Windows 7. I understand most people don’t like the new start menu including myself but if you use Win key type as I did in 7 It has no effect on your workflow. As for everything else about windows 8 its just better. The kernel has had a major overhaul. The memory management and ram caching is far beyond windows 7 and overall game performance is better. Windows update has had some major work done on it and windows SxS “side by side” has had some serious fixes.

      Well I guess there’s one caveat I shouldn’t forget the Shift+F8 to get into safe mode was probably one of the worst decisions M$ has made. It takes me on average 9 reboots/attempts to get into safe mode.

      1. sades said on March 4, 2013 at 6:40 am

        What flask? You clearly represent the one way humanity should use their OS.

        Regarding gaming on 8, so you’re basically saying hypothetically or about future prospect?

      2. RED-404 said on March 4, 2013 at 5:18 am

        I just knew I was going to catch some flak for this. Im not pro M$ and my primary OS is FreeBSD

        “sades says:
        Glad you’re speaking for all the use case scenario out there. MS would be proud of you.”

        No I’m not, and never did I say it did and I also pointed out some of the many problems with Windows 8. But for most systems It has a lot of really good non-ui stuff going for it.

        sades says:
        Also glad you found the magical “increase” of FPS in gaming despite numerous tests show otherwise.”

        I have seen the benchmarks and its not the same for every game. If you’re looking at FPS in many games you won’t see FPS quite as high as you did in Windows 7 and others you will. In some cases you will see higher minimum FPS in Windows 8 and others you won’t. Many of the benchmarks and articles you have probably read also mentioned its a new OS and the drivers are also new. Also take into account that most games were not developed or even tested on Windows 8 so there have been no OS specific tweaks done. You see the same problems with every release of Windows.

      3. sades said on March 4, 2013 at 3:33 am

        Also glad you found the magical “increase” of FPS in gaming despite numerous tests show otherwise.

      4. sades said on March 3, 2013 at 11:55 pm

        Glad you’re speaking for all the use case scenario out there. MS would be proud of you.

    2. Anon said on March 3, 2013 at 4:10 pm

      Upgrading is the right word here.

      1. BobbyPhoenix said on March 4, 2013 at 8:47 am

        I agree with upgrading. W7 > W8.

      2. Jason said on March 3, 2013 at 8:09 pm

        Disagree, I think he meant downgrading…. I would if I bought a new PC with Win8 preinstalled.

  9. Nebulus said on March 3, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    The results are pretty normal because of a simple fact: Windows XP has no 64bit version capable of gaming. Because games are greatly favoured by more than 4GB of memory, that means that a gamer will probably choose an OS which supports just that. That is the main reason Windows 7 64 bit has 55%, and that is also the reason why we will see an increase in Windows 8 64 bit in the future. Another reason would be that gamers are more inclined to buy new computers, and they will come with Windows 8 pre-installed.

    1. Doc said on March 3, 2013 at 4:43 pm

      XP 64-bit is *perfectly* capable of gaming; I’ve used it myself. Any game that runs on XP 32-bit will run perfectly well on XP 64-bit unless it uses 16-bit (Windows 3.x) code. It just doesn’t have the mind share that XP 32-bit, Windows 7, etc. have.

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