Windows 8's usage share increases while XP's and Vista's declines

Martin Brinkmann
Apr 2, 2013

The question why we are looking at usage statistics of operating systems and other software or devices comes up a lot and there are several answers to that. Developers for one should be interested in usage shares as it may provide them with information about markets they may want to target or avoid. If you are interested in technology, you may also gain valuable information from usage or market share information. It may provide you with the means to pick the right operating system or device for example, or provide others with the means to make that decision as well. Last but not least it paints a global picture of the PC industry as a whole and where everything is headed towards.

What makes this particularly difficult though is that the two companies that could release statistics that would be preciser than anything else, Microsoft and Google, choose to not release them. That leaves third party solutions that track only a fraction of the whole computing world.  So lets take a look at the various companies and their data:

  • Netmarketshare sees Windows 8's usage share at 3.31%, an increase of 0.52% over last month's share. That's far from an impressive growth though. Windows 8 is trailing Vista's 4.99%, XP's 38.73% and Windows 7's 44.73% in the statistic. Windows 7 gained 0.22% this month while XP and Vista declined by by 0.26% and 0.18% respectively. So, nothing groundbreaking happened in the last 31 days.
  • W3Counter's statistics are fairly similar. The service sees Windows 8 at 3.41% up from 2.72% the month before. Windows 7 is leading the operating systems list with 43.09% followed by Windows XP with 21.67 and Windows Vista with 5.01%. It needs to be noted that the service is tracking desktop and mobile operating systems in a single list.
  • Statcounter sees Windows 8 at 3.9% up from 3.16% the month before. It is trailing Windows 7's 52.61%, Windows XP's 23.38%, Mac OS X's 7.29% and Vista's 6.13%.
  • W3Schools has not published the statistics for March yet but it saw Windows 8 at 5.7% already in February which is a lot more than the other services saw the operating system at.
  • Steam finally lists Windows 8 at 10.67% which is nearly three times as much as the other services see it at. It's market share increased by 1.04% in March.

windows 8 market share

If we look at the numbers we see a minimum growth of 0.52% over last's month, a maximum growth of 1.04% and a combined average growth of 0.74%. If we use the average growth to predict where Windows 8's market share will be in a year's time, we will come to the conclusion that it will be at the 10% mark after December 2013.

The growth is slower than Windows 7's growth when it came out. According to Statcounter, Windows 7's usage share was at 11.92% in March 2010 and at more than 22% exactly one year after release. The comparison is not entirely fair though, considering that Windows 7 was Vista's successor, an operating system that many considered a complete failure, while Windows 8 followed Windows 7, a highly successful and popular operating system.


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  1. Harry said on April 3, 2013 at 11:08 pm

    Why would Windows XP use be falling when you are threatened with it becoming unsupported! Just like the tax collector, new, printer, new scanner, hip hip hurah! What a waste of resources! Harry

  2. SuilAmhain said on April 3, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    I am happy with Windows 8 on my primary laptop, aside from complications with calendars, but after literally agonising over this I have decided that I am NOT buying a Windows 8 laptop/tablet at this time.

    I had planned to buy next weekend when I was in another jurisdiction with better prices but IMHO the current prices are exploitative and there is little reason for the high prices that I can see.

    1. SuilAmhain said on April 21, 2013 at 1:33 pm

      I was just thinking about this so I said I would follow up.

      I bought a nexus as a consumption only device. I could not justify what is being charged for the current generation of Windows 8 Devices.

      I will hold off until the end of year for a new “workstation” device hopefully MS will have worked out what ever is going on with the vendors by then…

      1. Martin Brinkmann said on April 21, 2013 at 5:04 pm

        I have been holding off as well, being slightly disappointed by the Surface Pro (battery life mainly) and other Windows 8 tablets. If a device comes along that provides me with what I’m looking for I’ll buy it in a heartbeat. Maybe when Intel’s next gen processors are built into these devices.

  3. berttie said on April 2, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    @ Gonzo

    Agree that the real test is the uptake of Metro apps for Microsoft as that’s where the money is for them. However, it is early days and they’d be hoping that many of the desktop app developers will switch exclusively to Metro forcing us to follow. They may well do so. Metro is also a potential boon for guys currently provide their apps as freeware in part because monetizing them has been too difficult until now.

    1. Gonzo said on April 2, 2013 at 7:20 pm

      Their cash cow is corps, gov’t and prosumers. Their wet dream is to have a mobile store like Apple or Android. Too bad their tablet and phone OS aren’t even the same making more work for devs and users. Their hw is expensive, locked-in and selection is limited. MS is not appealing in ANY way in the mobile arena. They’ve pissed on their partners and have started a snowball effect. Even RIM was smart enough to make porting Android apps as easy as possible for it’s new Blackberry. MS has always been hostile towards devs!

      People who buy x86 Windows machines need to get work done. This requires more than the WinRT API allows never-mind the anti multitask GUI (Office is a good example). People who want consumer toys are buying Apple or Android. I see absolutely no indication of this changing. No one is buying MS mobile products and their avoiding the Windows Store. It’s going to take more than wishful thinking or a forceful hand to change this.

      If we look over the horizon we see Intel Atom with HD 4000 graphics on tablets and later phones (read: Bios and Open Source drivers). It’ll solve Androids fragmentation issues overnight and allow corps and gov’t to roll their own images. Combine this with rumors surrounding a port of MS Office to Linux in 2014 and the eminent death of XP. It’s early days alright, the bleeding has only just begun.

  4. Gonzo said on April 2, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    Whether or not Windows 8 gains traction isn’t the only measure of its success. Devs and users embracing Metro apps on the desktop is. And based on what I’ve seen from users and the store, it’s a complete failure. Using Windows 8 with a shell replacement and/or avoiding the Windows Store should not count as a Win 8 user imo.

    Nearly every talk radio station in my area has adverts offering to downgrade people from 8 to 7 and after talking with them, business seems good. That’s “proof” enough for me.

  5. ilev said on April 2, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    Except for Microsoft, no one is taking Netmarketshare reports seriously (according to Netmarketshare IE’s market share is 55% , what a joke).

    Net applications bases their global stats on a network of only 4000 websites, generating a mere 150 million samples per month. To make up for this lack of sample size, they weight the data by country based on internet usage data that is 4 years out of date.

    Compare this to Statcounter, with a network of 3 million sites and 17 billion page views per month, several orders of magnitude more data.

  6. Ramesh Khanna said on April 2, 2013 at 10:44 am

    The graphic has different figures from all the sites reported on in the text: where is it from?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on April 2, 2013 at 11:30 am

      It is from Steam’s hardware survey, sorry for not mentioning it.

  7. Rhoedd said on April 2, 2013 at 9:09 am

    Apologies, I meant to add more text, but got distracted.

    It’s a pity we couldn’t have a deeper understanding of the breakdown rather than just a straight-up usage. It would be interesting to see how many moved from one OS to another, but it’s understandable that those kind of figures would be more difficult to accummulate due to factors like dynamic IPs, etc.

    Steam’s figures are interesting, but we must keep in mind that only small subsets of their games can actually be played on non-Windows machines or may actually be played using Wine.

  8. Sleeping said on April 2, 2013 at 9:01 am

    What about the diffusion of x64 Windows? Is there any official data about it? I remember with XP almost nobody used it, with Vista it was slightly more used and with Windows 7 much more. What about Windows 7 and 8 stastistics? :)

  9. Yoav said on April 2, 2013 at 8:59 am

    I went to buy a computer last month and one store – one of the largest chains in the country (Israel) – simply refused to sell me a Windows7 system. They said “windows8 or nothing”.
    I guess they must be getting a hell of a commission…

  10. Rhoedd said on April 2, 2013 at 8:57 am

    I reinstalled Windows 7 last month as after about 3 months I just couldn’t get used to Windows 8 on my laptop.Even trying some of the menu shells didn’t help, so in the end I formatted and reinstalled.

    I’m sure many other people would like Windows 8, but personally for me it wasn’t a good move.

  11. RG said on April 2, 2013 at 8:33 am

    Most interesting stat in a long time is going to be XP usage difference between April 2014 and May 2014

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