Windows by the numbers: Windows 10 hits late wall, stalls

With support for Windows 7 ending in January, the push to upgrade to Windows 10 continues. But the pace of Win10 adoptions stalled in November.

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Windows by the numbers: June 2019

Apparently, just six months before Windows 7 hits retirement, users decided to take a break from migrating to the latest shiny, Windows 10.

According to web metrics company Net Applications, anyway.

The chances that everyone pressed Pause in June are about the same as pocketing a million from a scratch-it. In other words, highly unlikely. But that's what Net Applications claimed Monday.

Windows 7's share of all personal computers barely budged in June, remaining at 35.4%, and its portion of the PCs running Windows stayed put at 40.1%. (The second number was significantly larger than the first because Windows does not power every personal computer; in June, Windows ran 88.3% of the world's machines. All but a miniscule fraction of the rest ran macOS, Linux or Chrome OS.)

Meanwhile, Windows 10's numbers were almost as immune to change. The operating system's share of all PCs reached 45.8%, an increase of less than one-tenth of a percentage point. Windows 10's share of Windows PCs did not move at all, sticking with 51.8%. (The stubbornness of the share of Windows overall was an artifact of rounding.)

So, what's going on? Did Windows users, especially commercial customers tasked with getting off Windows 7 before security updates dry up, really stop doing — what they'd done the month before — upgrading from 7 to 10?

Who knows? As Computerworld has noted numerous times when discussing analytics data that tries (pretends, some would argue) to reveal Microsoft's secrets, the whole process can be an impenetrable black box. Everything must be inferred, whether X gained when Y declined, or in this case, movement stalled.

It may simply be the data itself; Net Applications has visibility only on sites it monitors for clients. Its user share numbers are extrapolations at best, and so far from definitive to be laughable. But failing Microsoft's own data — which it has, thanks to the telemetry embedded within Windows — it's the best outsiders have. (Virtually every estimate of OS or browser share is based on the same principles used by Net Applications.)

What's important, as always, is to keep an eye on the longer-term trends. If any of this is worthwhile, it's the over-time movements of an OS. That's why, even in a month which stumps easy analysis, Net Applications' Windows numbers can provide insight.

Windows 10 still accelerates

By Net Applications' numbers, Windows 10's growth still shows signs of speeding up. The average per-month change over the past 12 months has been +0.84 of a percentage point. But over the last 6 months, the average climbed to +1.1 points, representing an increase of about 24%.

However, Windows 7's decline has not kept pace. Rather than accelerate, it has slowed. While Windows 7's average per-month movement over the last 12 months has been -0.53 percentage points, the 6-month average was only -0.25 points, or less than half. If Windows 7's fall was speeding up, the 6-month average decline should be larger not smaller than the 12-month.

That's why Windows 7's forecast — based, as always, on the operating system's 12-month average change — now pegs its January 2020 user share at 35.7%, nearly half a point higher than the prognostication of the month before. (Windows 7 will exit support Jan. 14, 2020.) That's a lot of PCs destined to go without security updates.

Meanwhile, Windows 10 should stand at about 58% of all Windows installations when the older OS drops off support, a decrease of approximately two points from the early-June forecast. A year later — January 2021 — Windows 7 and Windows 10 will be at 28.5% and 69.5%, respectively.

Elsewhere in Net Applications' June reporting, the user share of macOS slipped by more than a tenth of a percentage point to 9.2%, the lowest mark for Apple's desktop operating system in over a year. macOS has lost user share for three straight months. Linux's user share climbed by almost two-tenths of a point to 2.1%, while Google's Chrome OS stayed flat at 0.4%.

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