Explanation for the huge Windows 11 drop on Steam in March 2023
Valve releases a monthly hardware and software statistics update on its Steam platform. The stats include information about the most used operating systems, processors, video cards, and other hardware stats.
Ever since its introduction, Windows has been the dominating platform on Steam. While Valve has spend resources on improving gaming on Linux, for instance by improving Proton, which makes many Windows games playable on Linux devices, it has not threatened Windows' dominance on the platform.
The March 2023 Steam Hardware & Software Survey highlight this better than ever before. According to the stats, 97.75% of Steam users are using Windows. While it is remarkable that Windows usage is increasing, by 1.73% over February 2023, it is the huge drop of Microsoft's newest operating system Windows 11 and the equally huge increase of Windows 10 that is remarkable.
According to the stats. Windows 10 usage increased by 10.40% to 73.85% on Steam. Windows 11 usage dropped by 7.92% at the same time to 22.41%. Last month, Windows 11 crossed the 30% mark for the first time, only to be pushed back to less than 23% this month.
Valve does not provide any explanations for the statistics. While it is in theory possible that a major Windows 11 bug caused almost a quarter of Windows 11 devices to be downgraded to Windows 10, there is a simple explanation for the development.
Valve does not collect hardware and software stats automatically. What the company does instead is display prompts to Steam users, asking them to provide the information voluntarily. Not all Steam users see the prompt each month and even fewer users participate.
What this means is that stats may fluctuate significantly based on the criteria mentioned. More Windows 10 Steam users may have gotten the prompt in March 2023. It is also possible that Valve has increased the number of prompts, which would benefit operating systems that are more widely used; this would also explain why Linux and macOS have seen a drop in usage.
Only Valve knows, but all available statistics, regardless of whether they come from Steam, Statcounter or other tracking services, are not 100% accurate. All observe just part of the Internet and as such may be off, sometimes way off, when it comes to usage statistics.
Microsoft could provide accurate statistics on the distribution of the various Windows platforms, but the company has never released the information. While it has announced certain milestones in the past, especially when it was still hunting the 1 billion devices goal of Windows 10, it never released detailed statistics publicly.
For users, it does not really matter whether Windows 10 or Windows 11 is in the lead on Steam or elsewhere. It may play a role when Windows 10 is reaching its end of life in 2025, as a large userbase could persuade Microsoft to offer an extension of sorts, similarly to the ESU released for Windows 7.
As for Steam, the April 2023 stats may provide a clearer picture.
Now You: Windows 10, 11 or something else. What is your system?