Windows 10 usage inches up—but gap with Android widens

Windows 7 still has half the market on the desktop, but Windows 10 continues its leisurely rise as Edge flatlines

Windows 10 usage inches up — but gap with Android is widening
RJP (CC BY 2.0)

Microsoft’s charge to modernize its products can be described as lethargic, at best. April saw tiny gains in Windows 10 usage, while Edge flatlined. The bigger news is that since overtaking Windows in popularity last month, Android has since increased its lead.

Depending on whose numbers you trust, on the desktop Windows 7 still has half the market, Windows 10 has about a quarter, and Microsoft's heavily marketed Edge browser registers as little more than a rounding-off error.

NetMarketshare—which counts unique monthly visitors to its sites, and weighs scores to adjust for country variations—says that Windows 10 usage worldwide nudged up less than a percentage point last month, from 25.36 percent in March to 26.28 percent in April.

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At the same, Windows 7 usage time floated down from 49.42 percent in March to 48.50 percent in April. If you’re counting nits, Win7’s usage in the past year has bobbed between a high of 49.42 percent (March) and a low of 47.01 percent (last July). Every month has been well within spitting distance of the 50 percent mark.

The Irish firm StatCounter—which simply measures raw hits on its honeypot sites, with no “unique” or weighting kerfuffle—says Win10 usage went up a little more than a point, from 34.25 percent in March to 35.57 percent in April. At the same time, Win7 usage went down a little less than a point, from 47.06 percent in March to 46.17 in April.

StatCounter’s U.S.-only usage numbers are different. They show that, in the United States, Win10 web usage has pulled ahead of Win7, and the pace is increasing. Between March and April, StatCounter says Win10 U.S.-only usage grew more than a point, from 44.06 percent to 45.55 percent. Win7 usage, meanwhile, dropped more than a point, from 41.26 percent to 39.92 percent.

At the same time, Microsoft’s Edge browser can’t get a break. NetMarketshare says Edge usage went from 5.61 percent share in March to 5.62 percent in April, while StatCounter pegged it at 1.71 percent both months.

You have to wonder what’s happening to the Windows 10 web numbers, with roughly 20 million new PCs going into the market every month. Almost all of those PCs run Win10, yet they aren’t turning the tide with web usage. Win10 PCs all ship with Edge installed as the default browser, but Edge isn’t getting any love, either.

Microsoft only talks about “monthly active devices,” not users or usage, and by that measure we’re very much in the dark. The last time Microsoft released its Win10 “monthly active devices” number was last September—when it stood at 400 million. There hasn't been a word since then. Perhaps we’ll get a new number at the EDU announcement tomorrow or the Build conference next week. If the announced number tops 400 million, the increase in Win10 devices sure hasn’t shown up in web usage. 

The big news from StatCounter is that Android has increased its lead over Windows as a whole—a fact first noted last month. Android usage went up nearly a point, from 37.93 percent in March to 38.91 percent in April. Windows in aggregate fell from 37.91 percent to 36.88 percent.

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Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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