Windows 10 finally overtakes Windows 7 as favorite desktop OS

The turning point was flagged by web traffic analytics firm Net Applications, whose NetMarketShare figures showed Windows 10's market share on desktop and laptop PCs passing Windows 7 in December 2018.

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More than three years after its launch, Windows 10 has finally overtaken its predecessor Windows 7 in terms of popularity.

The turning point was flagged by web traffic analytics firm Net Applications, whose NetMarketShare figures showed Windows 10's market share on desktop and laptop PCs overtaking Windows 7 for the first time in December 2018.

In that month, 39.22% of all Windows PCs were running Windows 10 and 36.90% were running Windows 7, according to the NetMarketShare figures. Overall, Windows was by far the most popular desktop OS, with 86.2% market share.

In the middle of last year, Microsoft said that Windows 10 was running on nearly 700 million devices each month. That figure didn't just include PCs, but also tablets, phones, and Xbox consoles.

While Microsoft initially predicted that one billion devices would be using Windows 10 by summer 2018, in recent years it stepped back from that pledge, after it became clear it would not hit those figures, largely due to Windows' failure to gain traction in the mobile phone market.

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Net Applications provides network analytics to various major sites, and compiles its NetMarketShare data from approximately 100 million valid sessions per month, widely distributed over thousands of websites.

As ZDNet's Ed Bott has previously explained, NetMarketShare aims to measure daily unique users within its network, while StatCounter measures total traffic. NetMarketShare also weights the data by country, whereas StatCounter doesn't.

In contrast to NetMarketShare, StatCounter figures showed Windows 10's market share overtaking Windows 7 in January 2018.

While each measure has its limitations, the fact that both sets of figures show Windows 10 in pole position adds weight to the argument that Windows 10 has surpassed its predecessor on the desktop. This shift to Windows 10 was inevitable as the January 2020 deadline for the end of support for Windows 7 drew closer.

The continued adoption of Windows 10 is good news for Microsoft's flagship OS after several months of negative headlines about bugs in the latest Windows 10 October 2018 Update, also known as version 1809.

The big takeaways for tech leaders:

  • In December 2018, 39.22% of all Windows PCs were running Windows 10 and 36.90% were running Windows 7. — NetMarketShare
  • December 2018 marked the first time that Windows 10 overtook Windows 7 in terms of desktop OS market share. — NetMarketShare

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By Nick Heath

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.