Windows market share continued its steady decline last month, capping a year in which Windows lost share for eight of the months. But there's less to that market drop than meets the eye, at least in the short term.
Web metrics firm Net Applications said that in December, Windows dropped 0.3 percent compared to the previous month, and finished the year with a 92.2 percent market share, Computerworld reports.
In December, Mac OS X market share dropped slightly, to 5.11 percent from 5.12 percent, and Linux gained slightly, from 1 percent to 1.02 percent.
So if Windows share dropped, and Mac OS X and Linux essentially stayed the same, who is gaining? Mobile operating systems, including Google's Android and Apple's iPhone operating system. Mobile operating systems now make up 1.3 percent of Web use.
What's important to keep in mind is that mobile Web surfers also use computers to access the Internet --- they're not giving up their computers. They using multiple devices to access the Internet. And when they're using their computers to hop onto the Internet, they're still primarily using Windows. So Microsoft last month didn't lose market share to its two biggest competitors, Mac OS X or Linux.
That's good news in the short run for Microsoft. But in the long run, Microsoft could be in for trouble. The more people use the iPhone, the more likely they'll consider using a Mac instead of a Windows-based PC. And the more they use Android, the more likely they may be to use Chrome on a netbook eventually. So Microsoft needs to figure out a way to make its mobile operating system relevant.
By the way, the news was good for Windows 7 last month, as it became increasingly popular, gaining 1.7 percent in December, to end the year with a 5.7 percent market share. Windows XP dropped 1.3 percent in September, and Windows Vista lost 0.7 percent.