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,
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.
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.
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.
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