Windows by the numbers: Windows 10 rolls on past 70%

Windows 10 accounted for 72.2% of Windows-only machines in October, according to U.S. analytics vendor Net Applications. At that rate of growth, it will run three out of four PCs by the end of January.

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Windows by the numbers: May 2019

Windows 10 in May added another 1.6 percentage points to its user share total, finally pushing the four-year-old operating system over the 50% mark.

According to California web analytics vendor Net Applications, Windows 10's share of the PCs running Windows reached 51.8% last month, the first time the OS accounted for a majority. Windows 10's May growth put it at 45.7% of all personal computers. (The first number was significantly larger than the second because Windows does not power every personal computer; in May, Windows ran 88.3% of the world's machines. All but a tiny fraction of the rest ran macOS, Linux or Chrome OS.)

May's gain was only about half that in March, when Windows 10 went on a binge and added a record 3.3 points, the most since August 2015 when Microsoft was offering a free upgrade for consumers. But it was the sixth in the past year where the increase was of one or more percentage points.

Meanwhile, Windows 7 fell one point in May, sliding to 35.4% of all PCs and 40.1% of those running Windows. The dead-OS-walking Windows XP — which recently was patched by Microsoft, five years after its official retirement — also shed some weight, dispensing with two-tenths of a point, ending at 2.2% of all PCs and 2.5% of the PCs powered by Windows.

Windows 8 and 8.1 — Computerworld tosses both in the same bucket — got with the program, too, as between them they lost two-tenths of a percentage point, dwindling to 4.8% of all personal computers and 5.4% of those running Windows.

In general terms, Windows played out May as it should have, with the newest edition gaining ground and all its ancestors giving up share.

Windows 10's growth accelerates

The prognosis for Windows 7's retirement, though, remained grimmer than Microsoft would prefer.

Computerworld's new prognostication — based, as always, on the operating system's 12-month average movement — has Windows 7 at a too-high 35.3% of all Windows machines at the end of January. (The 2009 OS will exit support Jan. 14, 2020.) That's in line with forecasts of the last several months and a figure unlikely to budge; as the number of months before retirement shrinks, it becomes increasingly difficult to move the forecast needle.

Meanwhile, Windows 10 should stand at about 60% of all Windows when 7 drops off support. A year later — January 2021 — the two will be at 28% (Windows 7) and 73% (Windows 10).

Those numbers for Windows 7 — 35% in 2020 and 28% in 2021 — are higher than the same-time figures for Windows XP when and after it got kicked to the curb. That means millions of machines will be running an unpatched Windows 7 OS come February. How many millions? Our estimate: 530 million, give or take, based on the well-established rule of thumb that around 1.5 billion personal computers run Windows worldwide.

That's a lot of potential exploit-ready targets.

There are signs that the switch from Windows 7 to Windows 10 has accelerated, as one would expect as the deadline approaches and customers get serious about migrations.

The average per-month gain over the past three months has been 1.8 percentage points, which was 30% higher than the 1.3 points averaged over the last six months. The six-month average, meanwhile, was 27% greater than the nine-tenths of a point during the preceding 12 months.

Elsewhere in Net Applications' May numbers, the overall user share of macOS slid by a tenth of a percentage point to 9.3%, the lowest mark for Apple's desktop operating system in nearly a year. Linux's user share also dipped by a tenth of a point to 1.9% while Google's Chrome OS edged up to 0.4%.

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