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, July 2020

Windows 10 took a breather in July, perhaps celebrating its fifth birthday with a little too much adult beverage and – although the share data was deceptive – essentially remained flat for the month.

According to California analytics company Net Applications, Windows 10 purportedly grew by four-tenths of a percentage points to reach 59.4% of global OS share last month, representing 68.2% of all Windows editions. The second number is the more important of the pair, however, and is nearly identical to that of the month before.

As always, Windows 10's percentage of only Windows PCs (that 68.2%) was larger than the percentage of all personal computers (the 59.4%), because Windows does not power every system. In July, Windows was the OS on 87% of the world's personal computers, up three-tenths of a point from June. Of the remaining 13%, all but six-hundredths of a point ran macOS, Linux or Chrome OS.

In Net Applications' eyes, then, Windows 10's "increase" was largely due to a boost in the overall Windows number, and so did not portray an organic gain by the new-ish operating system. Think of it as a rising-tide-lifts-all-boats situation.

Windows 7 also stayed in place, ending the month as it began, with a share of 23.4% of all PCs and 26.8% of just Windows.

Five years on and Windows 10 catches its breath

It was ironic that on the month of the fifth anniversary of its debut, Windows 10 took a rest: The OS has absorbed share at a faster clip than its real predecessor, Windows 7. At the five-year mark, Windows 7 accounted for 58% of all versions of Windows, according to Net Applications, or 10 fewer points than Windows 10 at the same point in its timeline.

(Windows 10 has also already surpassed Windows 7's peak, which was 67.1% of Windows in June 2015.)

There were reasons for 10's apparent growth. First and foremost, and unlike all earlier editions of the operating system, it has no newer rival. Because 10 is Microsoft's last Windows – it's to be refreshed until doomsday rather than replaced – it has had no competition from a flashier offspring.

Windows 7 did not have that advantage. Even though Windows 8 flopped, it still attracted some users. In October 2014, for instance, Windows 8/8.1 accounted for 18.4% of Windows' share. In a world without Windows 8/8.1, Windows 7 would almost certainly have powered 76% of all Windows PCs at its five-year spot.

Nothing illustrates this no-competition perk better than forecasts of Windows 10 future growth. Using the operating system's 12-month average, Computerworld can predict that 10 will soon reach territory unseen by Windows 7: in February, Windows 10 should account for 76% of Windows by June 2021, more than 80%.

Meanwhile, Windows 7 will continue to shrink in share size. By year's end, the out-of-support OS will power just 23% of all Windows desktops and laptops, and in a year only 17%.

Elsewhere in Net Applications' numbers, July put an end to an amazing growth spurt by Linux. The category, which lumps together all distributions, lost a minute four-hundredths of a percentage point, remaining at the 3.6% of June. macOS dropped three-tenths of a point last month, slipping under 9% for the first time since July 2019.

Net Applications calculates operating system share by detecting the agent strings of the browsers used to reach the websites of Net Applications' clients. The firm tallies visitor sessions of those browsers to measure global operating system activity.

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