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Windows 10 Rules the PC OS World

OK readers: it’s no longer in any doubt. Windows 7 is set to shuffle off the scene next month (as much as it can, anyway). Windows 8 and 8.1 never amounted to much. Other OSes outside the Windows umbrella enjoy less marketshare than XP does, 5 years after its end-of-life came and went. There’s no longer any doubt: Windows 10 is King of the OS. You can check out all these numbers any time you like at NetMarketShare.com, as I did this morning, to get these results:

The numbers at the bottom show the average over the monitoring interval. The little box at center right shows November 2019 numbers. In this case, that’s what counts!
[Click image for full-sized view.]

Win10 Solidly in the Lead

I went to check these numbers thanks to an interesting (and read-worthy) article from PCGamer.com yesterday. By Jarred Walton, it’s entitled “We live in a Windows 10 world now.” It’s chock-full of interesting statistics (but alas he cites no sources). Here’s a sampling:

+ By January 2010, Windows of some kind ran on 94 percent of PCs
+ At that time (Jan 2010), 68% ran Windows XP, 23% ran Vista, and Windows 7 9%
+ By 2015, Windows 7 ran on 62%, 8/8/1 combined 21%, and XP still held 14%
+ After Win10 launched in July 2015, it took six months to pass 8/8.1 and 18 months to pass 7
+ Right now, says Walton, Win10 runs on 65%, with another 25% for Windows 7

Like I said, I’d like to know where those numbers come from, because they differ from those at NetMarketShare. The also differ from those at Analytics.usa.gov, which currently shows a breakdown as follows for Windows and other desktop OSes (visits to US Government website over the 90-day period from 9/25/2019 through 12/24/2019 [today]).

+ Windows 10 : 59.8%
+ Windows 7 : 15.7%
+ Windows 8.1: 3.3%
+ Mac OS : 20.2%

Nevertheless, it seems pretty indisputable that when it comes to desktop OSes (including x86, x64 and ARM devices that can run some kind of desktop OS) Windows 10 is running on more than half of such devices. Depending on your source that number may be slightly over 50% (53.3% according to NetMarketShare) to as high as 64.7% (according to StatCounter). To me, this reflects the maturation of the PC market with Windows still solidly in charge (Statcounter gives it a 35% overall share on the Internet, behind 40.4% for Android, across all devices and their many and varied OSes, also including iOS and OS X).

It’s Good to be the King, Right?

Of course, one wonders in an increasingly mobile world, the real significance of ruling a relatively small roost. Statista predicts there will be 4.78 Billion (yes, with a “B”) mobile phone users around the world by the end of 2020. Right now, their number stands at 4.68 Billion. Statista also currently estimates the installed base of personal computers worldwide in 2019 at around 1.3 Billion. That’s roughly 3 mobile phones for every PC, at a time when the number of mobile phones continues to grow but the number of PCs in use is declining. And FWIW, StatCounter still gives Windows 7 a slightly heftier 27.5% share (as compared to the numbers that Walton cited at PCGamer).

But with Windows 7 EOL in exactly three weeks, we can anticipate that Win7 numbers will wane, and that Win10 will make up those losses, especially over the course of 2020. Windows 10 seems set to dominate the PC world for the foreseeable future. The real question is, of course: “What share of the total user base will continue to use PCs in the years and decades ahead?” Personally, I think the current number of around 1.3B or so is likely to remain steady, or not decline much, until at least the 2030s. The only thing that could undo my prognostication is some kind of unexpected alliance between smartphone and TV makers that gives users with both (and a keyboard and mouse) what only PC users have today: big brains and a big display. We’ll see!

Author: Ed Tittel

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran. He’s a Princeton and multiple University of Texas graduate who’s worked in IT since 1981 when he started his first programming job. Over the past three decades he’s also worked as a manager, technical evangelist, consultant, trainer, and an expert witness. See his professional bio for all the details.

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