In terms of internet usage, Google's Android is now the world's most popular operating system, beating out Microsoft Windows for the first time ever, according to new StatCounter data.
The data, released Monday, looked at total internet usage across desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. According to StatCounter, Android hit a worldwide OS internet usage market share of 37.93% in March 2017, putting it very slightly above Windows' share of 37.91%.
"This is a milestone in technology history and the end of an era," StatCounter CEO Aodhan Cullen said in a press release. "It marks the end of Microsoft's leadership worldwide of the OS market which it has held since the 1980s. It also represents a major breakthrough for Android which held just 2.4% of global internet usage share only five years ago."
The biggest reason for the shift in power is the growth of internet browsing on smartphones, especially in emerging markets. According to a map released by StatCounter, Android internet use was concentrated in countries in Asia and the Middle East, as well as many countries in Africa.
Microsoft is still leading in desktop market share, the release said, but the world is moving to mobile.
"It will be difficult for Microsoft to make inroads in mobile but the next paradigm shift might give it the opportunity to regain dominance," Cullen said in the release. "That could be in Augmented Reality, AI, Voice or Continuum (a product that aims to replace a desktop and smartphone with a single Microsoft powered phone)."
In terms of general browser use, Google's Chrome has led the pack for at least the last 90 days (the longest time allotted for customizable charts on StatCounter's site).
If StatCounter's data is to be believed, it could mean that the stage is being set for Android to become the OS of choice for the crossover mobile/desktop experience. Additionally, Samsung recently announced its DeX platform alongside the launch of the Galaxy S8, which promises to turn the Android phone into a desktop experience when the device is docked.
The data also breathes new life into the concept of a Chrome OS merger with Android, as Google recently allowed Chromebooks the ability to download Android apps. However, as some would argue, it might not be the best thing for the Chrome OS ecosystem if that were to happen.
One thing is for certain: No matter which OS is involved, the future of smartphones will likely have a big impact on the future of the desktop.
The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers
- Android has passed Windows as the most popular operating system in terms of internet usage, with a market share of 37.93% vs. Windows at 37.91%, according to StatCounter.
- Microsoft is still leading desktop internet use quite handily, but Google's Chrome is the most popular browser by a long shot.
- The data raises questions about the future of a Chrome/Android merger and whether or not Android will play into the future of the desktop.
- Why a Chrome OS and Android merger isn't what we really need (TechRepublic)
- Google opens doors on Android patent peace club (ZDNet)
- Bad news, Android devs: 40 percent of apps in the market are leaving sensitive backdoors exposed (TechRepublic)
- Google on Android ransomware: You're more likely to be hit twice by lightning than get infected (ZDNet)
- Android Nougat: The smart person's guide (TechRepublic)
Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.