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Popular Microsoft OS dips to 10 percent for the first time in years

Windows XP is still hanging on thanks to strongholds like China and computers belonging to the UK's national government.  But Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) approach of offering holdouts carrots -- such as $100 USD credit for customers who traded in an old Windows XP computer and bought a Windows 8 machine -- and the stick -- the threat of end of life and termination of anti-malware efforts -- seems to have been succesful.

Security research firm Qualys reported in a blog this week that in the past 15 months, Windows XP market share had plunged from 35 percent of enterprise users to a lowly 8 percent.

A key to this enterprise exodus has been a growing amount of vulnerabilities, published by Microsoft, but left quasi-unpatched.  Microsoft is still offering tracking and some support for some of these fixes, but it's no longer committing to the expensive effort of guaranteeing ready-built patches.  Instead it's relying on developers who insist on using Windows XP to perform fixes themselves, which range from registry edits to recompiling/regenerating core DLL files.

Windows XP

The plunge in XP, if extrapolated with some crude trend fitting, would suggest that Windows XP will fall to nearly no market share by December 2014.  However, in reality that decline is likely to level off somewhere in the 2-5 percent range as it reaches the truly stubborn holdouts.

Windows XP installed base

Presumably, Qualys's figures cover only discrete Windows XP client workstations, not point-of-sale devices and other embedded systems, where Windows XP not only holds substantual residual market share, but actually has up to four years of support left from Microsoft.

Net Applications' market share numbers for the start of May 2014 showed Windows 8.x (8.0 and 8.1) to hold roughly 12 percent of the market, well ahead of Windows Vista (which has less than 3 percent) but behind Windows XP (26 percent) and Windows 7 (49 percent).  Apple, Inc. (AAPL) has a meager 4 percent, just 3 times that of Linux which is at ~1.6 percent, largely on account of Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Chrome OS.

OS market share

Note the difference between enterprise users -- 8 percent on Windows XP -- and the general usage numbers -- 26 percent.

In other words, corporate users may be fleeing Windows XP at a rapid rate as serious security holes are published and begin to be exploited in the wild.  But many on the consumer side are ignorant to such issues and clinging much more tightly to Windows XP.  Thus expect consumers to pay a heavy price for their ignorance, while enterprises have largely made the logical leap to newer operating systems.

Sources: Qualys, Net Applications

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Windows 8
By kmmatney on 5/16/2014 2:04:57 PM , Rating: 2
I'm surprised there are so many Windows 8 machines out there, given it is free to upgrade to 8.1.

RE: Windows 8
By gamerk2 on 5/16/2014 2:07:56 PM , Rating: 3
No its not; you have weeks and months of regression testing that needs to be done to ensure that none of the changes adversely affects your application performance. That costs a ton of money for business to do. Nevermind the downtime to actually perform the upgrade.

RE: Windows 8
By nolisi on 5/16/2014 2:27:50 PM , Rating: 2
Who does months of regression testing on the desktop side for an application?

RE: Windows 8
By Flunk on 5/16/2014 2:47:00 PM , Rating: 4
People who like to overcharge their customers/business.

RE: Windows 8
By heffeque on 5/16/2014 6:47:27 PM , Rating: 5
Also... people don't seem to know that it's not possible to go from 8.0 to 8.1 on Enterprise edition.

RE: Windows 8
By inperfectdarkness on 5/16/2014 3:12:21 PM , Rating: 2
That's because the majority of PC users are not computer savvy. Even with a free upgrade, your average user will not upgrade to 8.1--either due to lack of knowledge or lack of caring. Same reason why so many people clung to XP for so long until MS notified them that it was pulling the plug.

RE: Windows 8
By inighthawki on 5/16/2014 3:49:20 PM , Rating: 2
either due to lack of knowledge or lack of caring

Lack of caring, maybe... But lack of knowledge would be hard. Windows 8 prompts the user that the 8.1 update is available in the store. It's basically impossible for anyone running Windows 8 with an internet connection to not know about it.

My guess is a lot of those 8 users are business or people who have not upgraded for compatibility reasons.

RE: Windows 8
By Murloc on 5/16/2014 6:53:20 PM , Rating: 3
I have a computer with w8 and the store application just won't load.
I tried everything I found on the internet to fix it, nothing works.

Now a format might help with this, but it's something non-savvy users can do.

RE: Windows 8
By inighthawki on 5/16/2014 11:33:22 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah there are always people who will face technical hurdles as well. I'm absolutely shocked that Microsoft decided that the Store was going to be the only easy ship vehicle for 8.1. That's just dumb. What's wrong with Windows Update? Why isn't the ISO/update package easy to find online?

RE: Windows 8
By momorere on 5/17/2014 9:45:52 AM , Rating: 1
All it takes is a quick Google search. I acquired an ISO last week of Windows 8.1 WITH Update 1.

RE: Windows 8
By inighthawki on 5/17/2014 4:20:52 PM , Rating: 2
Congrats, but I didn't say 8.1 update 1, I said 8.1. If you go Google it, you'll actually find it's quite hard to find an 8.1 ISO without update 1.

RE: Windows 8
By momorere on 5/17/2014 9:51:20 PM , Rating: 2
I don't see your point. The support for 8.1 minus Update 1 is short lived. You would only be shooting yourself in the foot. So there is no need at all for a ISO of 8.1

RE: Windows 8
By inighthawki on 5/19/2014 5:14:18 PM , Rating: 2
Right, but before 8.1 Update 1 was released, there wasn't an 8.1 Update 1 ISO. You see my point? I think you're talking present tense, I'm not. I'm talking about when 8.1 was released, up until when update 1 was released. During that time, a lot of people had some issues upgrading since it was store only at that point.

RE: Windows 8
By Motoman on 5/19/2014 11:18:23 AM , Rating: 2
It's also like a 3.5Gb download...there's vast numbers of people in this country for whom that's a ridiculous fantasy. It will never happen.

RE: Windows 8
By w8gaming on 5/17/2014 2:44:35 AM , Rating: 2
Frankly it is not the cost factor. It is the perceived need to doing an "upgrade". To some, 8.1 is almost the same as 8.0 and there is no reason to take the trouble to upgrade and risk another round of breaking stuffs. And some are uninformed users who have no idea what "upgrade" is. And some are running Windows 8.0 on extremely low storage devices, thank to all those vendors selling W8 on 32GB tablets, that upgrade is such a hassle that is not worth doing.

RE: Windows 8
By Gungel on 5/18/2014 7:40:23 AM , Rating: 2
You can still buy Windows 8.0 in stores and online. And there are many new system sold with 8.0 instead of 8.1. But the questions remains why.

By Gondor on 5/16/2014 2:09:22 PM , Rating: 2
The chart you got there implies that Win XP share levels off after Christmas shopping season is over and actually goes up during summer months.

Are you sure the data used to create that chart is trustworthy?

RE: Interesting
By Dorkyman on 5/16/2014 6:22:41 PM , Rating: 2
Ever take a statistics class? You can't extrapolate to zero.

Or if you decide to, then what will the percentage be in December? -5%? What does than mean?

RE: Interesting
By Dorkyman on 5/16/2014 6:27:32 PM , Rating: 2
Ever take a statistics class? You can't extrapolate to zero.

Or if you decide to, then what will the percentage be in December? -5%? What does than mean?

RE: Interesting
By 8steve8 on 5/19/2014 3:32:46 PM , Rating: 2

you can extrapolate to zero.

Maybe not if your guess of a relation has an asymptote at zero, but any decreasing linear relation could be extrapolated to zero or below.

You should always question whether the relationship between variables is true, or even worth exploring.. especially outside of the given domain.

But there is nothing in a stats class that should say you can't extrapolate to zero...

There should be some common sense that says in many cases, things that look linear over a cirtain time period, are either not linear, or will not stay linear for long.

RE: Interesting
By Cheesetogo on 5/22/2014 4:57:03 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think that's what he was saying. I think he found it odd that the percentage of the market using XP wasn't strictly decreasing; looking at that chart it appears that the number actually increased during June. Which does seem strange.

By HostileEffect on 5/16/2014 10:57:43 PM , Rating: 2
XP is still good enough for my Pentium 4. A drive in the raid-0 array died after thirteen years and once I replace it, I'm putting WinXP back on.

Though it will be an offline computer. XD

"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan

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