Windows 7's share jumps 40% in first week of release

It's an even bigger hit in Eastern Europe, where piracy abounds

Windows 7's market share surged nearly 40% in the week following its release, according to Web measurement company Net Applications.

Overall, Windows continued to lose share globally, dropping 0.23 of a percentage point during October, while Apple's Mac OS X picked up most of that loss, gaining 0.15 of a point to finish the month near 5.3%, its highest ever.

For the week after Microsoft launched Windows 7 on Oct. 22, the new operating system's share averaged 2.66%, a jump of more than 39% over the 1.91% average for the part of October prior to its retail release.

Windows 7's peak of 3.48% on Saturday, Oct. 31, represented an even larger 82% increase over the average of Oct. 1 through Oct. 22. For the month, Windows 7 finished with a market share of 2.15%, up 41% over the 1.52% for September. The numbers from Net Applications mean that about one in every 44 personal computers was running Windows 7 last month.

But some countries boast a much higher Windows 7 share, Net Applications said. "Upon analysis of global Windows 7 usage share, we noticed a distinct pattern," the company said in a note posted on its site. "Russia and many Eastern European countries already have significant share of Windows 7 usage. We are sure these are all properly licensed users."

The tongue-in-cheek comment was well taken: Of the top 25 countries by Windows 7 usage, 17 are in Eastern Europe or formerly part of the U.S.S.R. Slovenia, where 7.8% of the computers ran Windows 7 last month, led the list, followed by Lithuania in the No. 3 spot (6.5%), Romania as No 4 (6%) and Latvia at No. 5 (6%). In Russia, at No. 21, 4.2% of all machines used Windows 7.

Net Applications' implication -- that the Windows 7 share in Eastern Europe is due to counterfeit copies -- is backed up by data from a May 2009 report generated by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), an industry-backed anti-piracy organization, and research firm IDC. In 2008, the piracy rate in Central and Eastern Europe was the highest of all seven regions the BSA and IDC tracked.

Slovenia's piracy rate -- the estimated percentage of all software in use that is not legally licensed -- was 47% last year, more than double the rate in the U.S. Lithuania, Romania, Latvia and Russia, meanwhile, had piracy rates of 54%, 66%, 56% and 68%, respectively.

However Windows 7 was acquired -- legally or not -- its increase was outweighed by a steeper-than-usual decline in Windows XP last month. The eight-year-old operating system lost 0.92 percentage point in October, significantly more than the 0.64 point average loss each month during the past year, falling to 70.6%.

Vista rebounded from September, when it fell for the first time in more than two years. Vista's October share of 18.77%, however, was still off its record of 18.8% in August.

Windows' overall share dropped 0.23 of a percentage point to 92.5%. Microsoft's OS has lost about two and a half share points in the last year.

As it has repeatedly, Mac OS X was the recipient of most of the users lost to Microsoft: Apple's operating system climbed by 0.15 of a percentage point to end October at 5.27%, a new record and only the second time it's finished above 5% since Net Applications revised its methodology in June.

Net Applications measures operating system usage by tracking the machines that surf to the 40,000 sites it monitors for clients, which results in a pool of about 160 million unique visitors per month. It weights share by the estimated size of each country's Internet population.

October's operating system data can be found on Net Applications' site.

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