Gamers love Windows 10

Martin Brinkmann
Apr 4, 2016
Updated • Jul 5, 2017
Games, Windows 10

Windows 10 replaced the long-standing champion OS for gamers Windows 7 in Valve's Hardware and Software Survey for March 2016 as the most popular operating system.

Steam's Hardware and Software Survey, as the name suggests, is based on information that users who have participated in the survey have provided Valve with. It is therefore not a 100% accurate representation of all systems running Steam but still useful when it comes to hardware and software trends.

In case you are interested, the system used by most games has 8 Gigabytes of RAM, a display resolution of 1920x1080, and a dual core Intel CPU with a clock speed between 2.3 Ghz and 2.69 Ghz,

Steam Hardware Stats March 2016

windows 10 games

The Windows 10 operating system jumped by 2.96% in March 2016 to a total percentage of 36.97% (plus 1.31% if you add the 32-bit version of Windows 10 to it).

It dethroned Windows 7 in the month which fell by 1.22% to 32.99%. However, if you add the 32-bit version of Windows 7 of 6.97% to the percentage, Windows 7 is still technically the number one operating system on Steam.

If you add all listed versions of an operating system, you come to the following top list instead.

  • Windows 7: 39.96
  • Windows 10: 38.28%
  • Windows 8: 15.06
  • Windows XP: 2%
  • Windows Vista: 0.37

It is rather interesting that Windows XP beat Windows Vista considering that XP is not supported anymore while Vista still is.

Mac OS X is used by 3.32% and Linux by 0.85% of users who participated in the survey. Both lost in March 2016.

Windows 10 usage on Steam is -- a lot -- higher than the reported usage share by companies who track a larger percentage of the market.

Net Market Share for instance saw Windows 10 at 14.15% in March 2016, Statcounter at 17.85 in April 2016, and W3Schools at 17.8% in February 2016. That's more than 20% less than what Steam's latest survey saw Windows 10 at.

The following table highlights the usage share percentage of the Windows operating system as seen by Steam, Netmarketshare, Statcounter and W3Schools as of March 2016 (W3Schools February 2016).

Steam Netmarket Statcounter W3Schools
Windows 10 38.28 14.15 17.85 17.8
Windows 8 15.06 12.01 14.35 15.2
Windows 7 39.96 51.89 44.32 43.1
Windows Vista 0.37 1.41 0.4
Windows XP 2 10.9 7.7 2.1

There are a few explanations why Windows 10 performs so much better on Steam. One of the main reasons, if not the main reason, is that games are more demanding in terms of hardware than most other activities on PCs.

Gamers are more likely to purchase new hardware or entire new systems so that they can play new and upcoming games (which may be more demanding) using them. The rise of 4K hardware and Virtual Reality systems pushes demand for hardware even more.

Another factor that may play a role is Windows 10's exclusive support for DirectX 12. While not supported by many games yet, there are already some out like the new Hitman and Tomb Raider games, Quantum Break, or Arma 3.

Most PC games that support DirectX 12 will also support previous versions of DirectX. A notable exception to the rule are games by Microsoft which will only support DirectX 12. Gamers who want to play DirectX 12 exclusive games need to upgrade their devices to Windows 10 and have a system with a DirectX 12 compatible video card on top of that.

Gamers love Windows 10
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Gamers love Windows 10
Windows 10 replaced the long-standing champion OS for gamers Windows 7 in Valve's Hardware and Software Survey for March 2016 as the most popular operating system.
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  1. C said on May 10, 2016 at 11:11 pm

    ArmA 3 does not/will not support DX12, you should fix that.

  2. AAA said on April 8, 2016 at 8:40 pm

    Unfortunately, the CS:GO is still running on old bare-bones…. :'(

  3. Hellonearthis said on April 7, 2016 at 4:58 am

    Microsoft is using DirectX to force gamers to upgrade, just like they did with Windows XP to Vista.
    If you want to use the newest DirectX you have to upgrade.

  4. wonton said on April 5, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    Most gamers i know updated to windows 10 for directx12 all regret it as its so buggy and not the best for gaming many wished they could downgrade but when upgrading to window 10 Microsoft removes the windows.old folder so you can’t easily revert back and your windows 7 key dont work any more after 30 days so they are stuck with it unless the use a cracked version of windows 7 or buy a cheap key from ebay.

    also the steam stats dont cover the pcs that dont have it installed on so unless they install steam on every pc in the world these so called stats will never be accurate with there percentages even amongst steam users.

    windows 10 has serious issues with drivers and affects a large percentage.

  5. GunGunGun said on April 5, 2016 at 6:40 am

    Many Japanese’s games cannot play on Windows 10, especially Visual Novel.

  6. wykedengel said on April 5, 2016 at 2:54 am

    Sorry, I have to disagree with this article. This gamer in particular hates Windows 10.

  7. SNES said on April 5, 2016 at 1:27 am

    I-is this irony packed in an article? Yesterday was Linux SteamOS – everyone was running it – now it’s Windows NSA Botnet 10 – everyone uses it – Sure…

  8. Nebulus said on April 4, 2016 at 10:16 pm

    Disgusting article. It really saddens me how low this site has fallen, but it has been a steady ride downhill for a while now…

  9. neal said on April 4, 2016 at 10:07 pm

    Directx 12 is a big thing if you are a gamer and have a compatible Directx 12 card. It is supposed to utilize hardware better potentially offering better frame rates and visuals(even though current games like Rise of Tomb Raider run worst with Direct X 12 whether you have AMD or Nvidia). Just the potential of better frame rates will mean that gamers will upgrade.

    I am personally hoping that Linux gaming takes the opportunity offered by Vulkan and the uncertainty of UWP and the future of win32 to get technically get ahead of Windows gaming and gradually supplant Windows as the OS for choice for pc gaming, which will also drive professional software ports and subsequently better hardware support which is more important to drive adoption as a every day general desktop OS. I am under no illusion it will take a long time which I think companies like Valve knows with its SteamOS, but I am pretty pessimistic about Windows 10 b/c of UWP and what it means for direction of PCs in general.

  10. exrelayman said on April 4, 2016 at 8:47 pm

    I’m not a gamer. Just noticed when I click on an icon in windows 10 for say reliability report or patchmypc, they pop up and are functional in less than half the time that this took while running 8.1. As mentioned before in comments to earlier posts here, I turned off every option to let microsoft have data when I upgraded, and use Spybot Anti-Beacon and W10 privacy to block telemetry and automatic upgrades.

    Also reliability report indicates fewer incidents occurring than did when I was running 8.1.

    This is not an advert. I am a user who fought the upgrade with distrust for more than 6 months. All of the ballyhoo about the big summer upgrade is about stuff like cloud, skype, cortana, etc which I disable anyway for the sake of privacy. But as a simple user, W10 simply is faster and more stable, as far as I can see. Shame about all the privacy invasion and forced upgrades, but they can be got around and then W10 really runs well for me.

  11. ddk said on April 4, 2016 at 5:56 pm

    Linux at less than 1%, wasn’t there a lot of cheerleading by the open source crowd that Linux finally attracted a viable gaming platform?

    Kind of shocked at the low percentage but not too surprised as Linux can be very buggy, updates/upgrades that break systems, don’t complete successfully or render the system unbootable plus other strange and exotic errors.

    I’ve read that NVIDIA is still an issue as Linux developers haven’t been able to resolve various problems associated with their graphics cards. This has been going on for quite sometime. Maybe Wayland can improve the gaming experience but it sounds like it’ll be quite awhile before that goes mainstream on Linux.

    1. Gary D said on April 4, 2016 at 8:52 pm


      Did you cut and paste your post from a Windows forum and substitute Linux for Win 10, because the same complaints are being made about Win 10.

      Win 10 buggy, updates/upgrades that break systems, don’t complete successfully ……… Graphics drivers not working …………. Need I go on ?

      1. Decent60 said on April 5, 2016 at 7:41 pm

        When Linux started to become popularized for the desktop, it did have some issues with things crashing and errors being thrown up. However, in the recent years, Desktop version of Linux (and server version as well) are pretty stable and generally do not cause errors unless the user inputs the wrong command or installs the wrong item for what they have. Game compatibilities, still reside on Windows more than other systems, so many users have to use WINE to play those games, which is where many people get crashes and errors.
        With all that being said, SteamOS and Steam Machines are both Linux based systems, which runs fairly well…if the hardware doesn’t muck up.


        Just because he didn’t have a problem doesn’t mean he’s lying. I have an Insider Edition working on a VM, it’s had 0 problems. It all depends on the hardware that you’re running but then again, that was the purpose of the Insider Edtion: secondary bug testing (or compatibility if you will).
        Microsoft never stated that everyone running the Insider Edition had problems for obvious reasons: Their internal testing showed it working just fine, which is why they pushed it out to see how it reacts on a mass level.

      2. Corky said on April 5, 2016 at 8:31 am

        @ddk, Well now we know you’re lying as Microsoft themselves have said, many times, that Insider editions of Windows 10 have had problems, i mean with every announcement of a new Insider edition comes a list of known bugs.

      3. ddk said on April 4, 2016 at 10:18 pm

        No copy-paste, this is from personal experience.
        There’s some good features with Linux eg: a choice of desktop environments, better security etc however the complexity of using Linux based distros, too much reliance on CLI and difficulties with portable apps & zip files plus stability issues make it a hard choice to recommend over Windows sometimes.

        I haven’t had problems being on the Win 10 Insider editions which might be somewhat comparable to a rolling release. Upgrades to Linux systems were always for me a hold your breath & keep your fingers crossed situation.

        Linux has a reputation of being too “geeky” overall, that might be keeping potential users including gamers away.

        Just a personal opinion, not intending to troll or bash here.

    2. MdN said on April 4, 2016 at 7:57 pm

      Oh wow. Buggy, exotic errors, broken, whatnot? Does it jump out of the computer and rob your house too? :-D We’re not in 2006 any more and Linux is just as buggy as Windows or OS X, or less. It’s an OS for long hard work, as in servers, and you fall from Mars and call it buggy? The simple truth is, I absolutely do not care about gaming on computer, and I never cared even back when I was using Windows. I’ve seen maybe 5-6 people in the “Linux crowd” talk about games which is definitely not a lot of cheerleading. It mostly happens on forums where kids talk about “woo-hoo Windows is better cuz it haz games”. But yeah, there’s 1.2 million Linux users on Steam. Other people who use Linux don’t use it for the sake of games. If I need to waste some time on a game then I’m probably in a waiting room somewhere so I’ll just use my phone. :-)

      1. Alex said on April 4, 2016 at 9:45 pm


    3. Corky said on April 4, 2016 at 7:11 pm

      Also based on Valve’s own numbers Linux gaming has actually been going up, in October 2013 Steam said they had 65 million users with 0.98 percent of those being Linux users meaning there were about 637,000 people using Linux, fast forward to February 2015 when they reported having over 125 million users with 0.91 percent of those being Linux users and you end up with more than 1.2 million Linux gamers.

    4. Corky said on April 4, 2016 at 6:58 pm

      I wouldn’t put to much faith in what Steam reports as there’s lots of anomalies, also going on this open letter to Valve it seems there maybe some misreporting re: Linux.
      I can’t verify how accurate it is or Wine has changed the way it reports the OS, but in the letter they claim “Wine defaults to Windows XP 32-bit” so it’s possible Steam’s hardware & software survey may not be very acurate.

  12. Yuliya said on April 4, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    38% of Steam users did not figure out how to get rid of the Get Windows X adware, I would say ;)

    It’s entirely possible that some of them actually wanted to upgrade and like it, but I think the number is that large due to Microsoft’s aggressive way of pushing it. That and if the stories that were circulating few months ago, that W7 acivated with D*Z Loader upgraded to 10 actually became fully licensed. Some people might have taken advantage of it with MS actually allowing this to happen

  13. Robert said on April 4, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    This article reads like a Microsoft advert. And why would Steam present data that way? I have been creating reports for decades and never would consider presenting data in a report to bias it for a piece of data to give it greater weight that another that clearly has more weight. Steam is clearly biased for Windows 10.

    Very strange.

    1. seeprime said on April 4, 2016 at 6:42 pm

      Reporting what OS their users have isn’t an advert for any company. It’s just data.

      1. JohnMWhite said on April 4, 2016 at 7:12 pm

        Data I don’t want to hear is an advert. Data I already agree with is proof.

  14. Jeff-FL said on April 4, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    What a strange article, and strange wording. First you say Windows 10 has a higher share on Steam than Win 7, then proceed to tell us that isn’t true, and that Win 7 is the actual leader. 32-bit vs 64-bit, who cares, it’s still Win 7.

    Then you title the article ‘gamers love windows 10’, somehow equating this non-leading market share with “love”.

    I know Win 10 will eventually take the top spot, but give 7 it’s due, at least while it still holds the lead. A lead it has held for nearly a year, despite 10 being given away for free. If anything, I’d say gamers love Windows 7 :-)

    1. Chains The Bounty Hunter said on April 4, 2016 at 11:51 pm

      The article title is misleading, I agree (or, at the very least, misrepresents something that could better be stated in the form of the fact that Windows 10 is the prevailing OS installed by most Steam users). The reality of things seems more likely to be that a lot of “gamers” (lets say that’s generic for anyone buying a PC that can run games, whether it does so well or not) have either got caught on Microsoft’s “FREE UPGRADE” hook or have purchased pre-built systems (or built their own) since the release of Windows 10.

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on April 4, 2016 at 3:36 pm

      If you take each version of the OS for itself, the way Steam presents the data, then Windows 10 64-bit is the leading OS on the platform.

      The title does not equate the operating system’s top position (or second position) with love, but the fact that it is 20% higher than that of other stat services.

  15. Corky said on April 4, 2016 at 2:40 pm

    Steam’s Hardware and Software Survey has always seemed rather odd to me, apparently everyone’s quick to upgrade to the newest OS yet the majority still only use CPUs with 2 cores and use DirectX 8 and below graphics cards with only 1GB VRAM.

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