The biggest danger to Windows 7 and Windows Vista isn't Mac OS X or Linux --- it's Windows XP, whose hard-core fans refuse to give up the aging operating system. But it looks as if XP may finally be on the way out, which is good news for Microsoft.
Windows XP's share of the OS usage market fell 1.1 percentage points during August, tying its November 2008 record drop.
At the same time, Vista and Windows 7 use was up, Vista by 0.9 percent, and Windows 7 by 0.3 percent. Windows XP is still dominant, though, with 71.8 percent use, compared to 18.8 percent for Vista, and 1.2 percent for Windows 7. Mac OS X use has stalled, with 4.9 percent share.
As I've written before, in Microsoft's biggest enemies: Windows XP and IE 6, XP's continuing dominance presents a serious problem for Microsoft. Enterprises staying with XP means they're not paying for upgrades to Vista or Windows 7. As for consumers who opt to stay with XP, the problem isn't really upgrade revenue, because consumer upgrades are a drop in the bucket. The real problem is that XP users don't buy new PCs, and so Microsoft is losing out on new sales.
I think that Windows 7 will go a long way towards solving the problem for Microsoft. It's gotten a far better reception than Windows Vista did, so enterprises won't shy away from it. And XP PCs are starting to look long in the tooth, so consumers will most likely be ready to get new hardware -- and new versions of Windows.