Surprise: Windows 8's usage share jumped in August 2013

Martin Brinkmann
Sep 2, 2013
Updated • Sep 2, 2013
Windows, Windows 8

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.

Netmarketshare for instance saw an increase of only 0.3% between June and July 2013, while Statcounter saw a jump by 0.67%.

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.

windows usage share

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?


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  1. Jim said on September 3, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    The numbers went up because I had to buy a new laptop and ended up buying two. :) I took the first one back because of the silly low 1366×768 screen resolution that seems to plague Win8 laptops, but that’s another topic.

    I have no doubt that both sales still counted in their numbers even though one is now languishing in the open box area. Such is the smoke and mirrors of sales numbers.

    Now in response to the other “jim”, I have yet to meet anyone who takes the position you mention. I observe exactly the opposite in fact. Most people consider phones and tablets as “light duty” computing devices. They make great video/presentation viewers, decent but limited web browsers, excellent ebook readers, and the go-to casual gaming platform. The phone/tablet interface is great for doing these things. They can do other things of course, but these are the big ones that jump to mind. Note that “Do real work” is not on that list. I don’t think anyone in their right mind would try to do any extensive spreadsheet work on a phone or tablet. If they did, they wouldn’t be in their right mind for long. :)

    The issue for most Win8 opponents is having that same phone/tablet paradigm forced on them when it doesn’t fit the work being done on a standard desktop or laptop platform. The whole concept of apps and ecosystem is rather ridiculous on those platforms. If you have ever used apps along with traditional programs on Win8 you would understand when I say the constant switching back and forth between the two is downright maddening. The fact that most of the apps available for Win8 lag far far behind programs in functionality drives the final nail in the coffin.

    This is why many Win8 users have configured their systems to boot straight to the desktop and have installed a utility to restore the start menu. They use programs, not apps, and they want their system to behave in a sane and consistent manner. Although there are certainly folks who would fight changes no matter what, I believe most folks embrace change when it is for the better and makes their life easier or more enjoyable. Win8 definitely failed in that regard.

  2. jim said on September 2, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    Same folks saying they can’t do any work with tablet focused metro ui are same folks saying to use tablets and phones for same purpose.

    anyways haters will be haters regardless. Such brick wall attitude is what keeps two sides at endless war a la Syria, west bank and such.

    oh well. Use Linux.

  3. YB said on September 2, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    Statistics and percentages are just that. They are just random and obsolete numbers with no actual facts behind them. Windows 8, while it is not a bad system, many people prefer their Start Menu and old way of using a computer.

    Unfortunately, that means that the traditional PC is dying in favour of a Phone or tablet. They are easier to use and much more affordable for you average user.

  4. kalmly said on September 2, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    My thought was kids getting laptops or whatever for school.

    IE? Haven’t used IE on my XP machine or on my Win7 machine, for that matter, ever.

    1. YB said on September 2, 2013 at 4:50 pm

      You can still do everything with an iPhone or iPad/Nexus 7. Why would anyone buy a Windows 8 or 8.1 system when they could just as equally buy a tablet or phone

      1. anon said on September 4, 2013 at 7:28 am

        Everything like creating complex content for those tablet you like so much? Go on try doing that on your fabled tablet.

  5. Abdur Rehman said on September 2, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    Microsoft may gain a bit more with upcoming Windows 8.1……

  6. GK said on September 2, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    XP likely appears to take a hit because on XP, most users would be using a non-IE browser as IE8 is obsolete/non-latest. If Chrome, Firefox, Opera users are high and their hidden pages don’t get counted by Net Applications from this month on, then it will appear to be a bigger drop than it usually is. Usually XP drops at around 0.5%.

  7. Nebulus said on September 2, 2013 at 11:57 am

    Most likely the FUD created by Microsoft about WinXP’s end of life in April 2014 convinced a part of the XP userbase to switch to WIndows 8.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on September 2, 2013 at 12:21 pm

      That was in mid August, I doubt that it had a big impact on the August numbers.

  8. rpwheeler said on September 2, 2013 at 11:52 am

    That funny numbers says that some of XP and Vista users migrated to Win 8, BUT — there is no migration from 7 to 8, or the migration from XP to 7 is as big as migration from 7 to 8, so 7’s losses were compensated from XP upgraded users.

    Sooooo… in almost 1 year of sales, despite all the promotions and discounts, Windows 8 and Metro failed to impress the majority of users. It shows what was told long time ago: Metro is not popular with users and doesn’t win MS any big advantage or sympathy. Neither Metro is popular with business.

    1. Sonny Starks said on September 3, 2013 at 11:15 pm

      I got in on the initial upgrade from Win7 to Win8 for just $40. I also received a free copy of Office 2013 Pro. After all of the third-party add-ons I have had to download and install to make it a usable WORKING computer, today, after about a six-month trial, I would not give you 50¢ for another legal copy of either one.

      Don’t need a computer to play games or download songs. Don’t need a computer to waste time downloading and (actually?) watching the garbage they call movies these days. I need a fast, secure, computer to edit professional photos and business video productions. The only reason I wanted to try either out was because of their touted security features. In this regard, Microsoft was right… Win8 will be secure because the malware, scam and virus writers will not bother to write the code for a system no professional organization will use.

      Any boost in sales for a system in which, the first thing a new computer owner must do is download said 3rd party apps to make it work the way it should, is merely the result of it being forced on new owners. eventually, Win8 will have so many 3rd party apps, it will look familiar… Win 7 anyone?

  9. Tom said on September 2, 2013 at 10:06 am

    OS usage trends have always been affected by the summer holiday time. Less corporate and more household computers used in this period, hence the slight change. Expect it back to normal in September.

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