Windows XP's share falls below 50%

Microsoft's decade-old OS officially hits minority status

Microsoft's Windows XP has slipped under the 50% share mark for the first time since Web measurement company Net Applications began tracking operating system usage.

The decade-old XP closed July with 49.8%, a 1.3-percentage point drop from June, Net Applications said today. Although XP still powers a majority of Windows machines, July's decline means it has lost its majority status among all operating systems.

Other metrics firms marked an earlier fall for XP. The Irish company StatCounter, for instance, said that the OS slipped under 50% last January. But unlike that rival, Net Applications' methodology weights its data by country to more accurately reflect use in countries like China, which produces relatively little data for Western measurements but has a huge pool of PC users.

StatCounter pegged XP's usage share at 43.9% in July.

The fall of XP has been gradual but still striking. In the last year, Windows XP's usage share as measured by Net Applications has plummeted more than 12 percentage points. Just two years ago, and several months before the launch of Windows 7, XP accounted for nearly three-out-of-four operating systems whose systems went online.

Although Microsoft did not note that XP slid below 50% last month, one would assume it's happy.

The company has been putting the squeeze on Windows XP users of late, reminding them that the OS will be retired in less than three years and telling them, "It's time to move on." The implied message: Upgrade to Windows 7 as soon as possible.

The aggressive promotion of Windows 7, coupled with XP's looming retirement, seem to have hit home. In the last two months, XP's share dropped 2.6 percentage points, the biggest 60-day decline since December 2010-January 2011, technology's typically-strong holiday selling season, when Windows 7 PCs sold briskly.

Today, Microsoft kept up the dump-XP drumbeat.

In a post on the Internet Explorer (IE) team's blog, Roger Capriotti, the head of marketing for Microsoft's browser, said of the even-older IE6, "With end of life for IE6 and Windows XP rapidly approaching, we expect [IE6's] drop in share to continue. It's great to see that the move of businesses off Windows XP and IE6 is helping to drive a worldwide drop in IE6 share."

Capriotti's use of the phrase "rapidly approaching" to describe XP's and IE6's retirement may be premature: Microsoft will serve up security updates for the operating system and that browser through April 2014.

It's clear that XP's fall has corresponded to Windows 7's climb.

According to Net Applications, Windows 7 finished July with a 27.9% global usage share, an increase of seven-tenths of a percentage point over June. In the last year, Windows 7 has gained 13.4 points, more than making up for the 12-point decline of XP.

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