Windows loses, Mac gains as market share race returns to normal

Windows 7 adoption stalls, Mac OS X poised to break 10% mark

After a February rebound, Windows' market share returned to its usual trend as it lost market share in March when more people ditched Windows XP than picked up Vista, a Web metrics firm said today.

Apple Inc.'s Mac OS X, meanwhile, also did a turn-about last month, gaining share for the first time since January.

During March, 88.1% of the people who connected to Web sites monitored by Net Applications Inc. did so using computers powered by Windows, a drop of 0.28 of a percentage point from February. The slip, however, was the smallest for Microsoft Corp.'s operating system since June 2008, when it fell 0.24 of a point.

In February, Windows reversed its usual pattern by posting the largest market share gain in more than a year and a half, according to Net Applications.

Contributing to the as-usual downturn was Windows XP, which lost market share for the 21st consecutive month, sliding 0.82 of a percentage point and ending up accounting for 62.9% of the machines that surfed to Net Applications' sites during March.

Windows Vista boosted its share, as it has done every month since its January 2007 launch, but the increase of 0.63 of a percentage point wasn't enough to make up for the loss of Windows XP users. Vista ran 23.4% of the PCs that connected to the Web last month, Net Applications said.

If the operating system continues to gain ground at its 12-month average pace, it will break the 25% barrier in May.

Windows 7, however, gained only 0.03 of a percentage point in March, less than half the increase it posted the month before, to end with a 0.21% share. It's likely that the in-development operating system stalled because the public beta is no longer available for download from Microsoft, and can be found only on file-sharing sites that host pirated copies of post-beta builds.

The market share world returned to normal last month for Mac OS X as well. In March, Apple's operating system regained half of what it had lost the month before, increasing 0.16 of a percentage point to end with a 9.8% share.

At its current 12-month average pace, Mac OS X should come close to cracking the 10% share mark by the end of April.

Net Applications' operating system market share data can be found on the company's Web site.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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