Windows by the numbers: Windows 10 backtracks, Windows 7 remains resilient

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Windows 10 in September faltered in its battle to replace Windows 7, losing its chance this month of putting the older operating system in second place. According to California analytics vendor Net Applications, Windows 10 retreated by four-tenths of a percentage point in September, putting its user share at 37.4% of all personal computers and 42.8% of those running Windows. (The second number is always larger than the first because Windows never powers all personal computers; in September, Windows ran 87.6% of the world's systems. The remainder ran macOS, Linux or ChromeOS.)

September's decline was one of only five recorded in the 38months since the mid-2015 launch of the newer OS. More common has been Windows10 advancing its user share: its monthly average has been an eight-tenths of apercentage point increase. In all but one of the prior cases where Windows 10lost user share, the slide was brief and gains immediately resumed.

That will likely be what happens in October.

For September, however, Windows 10's growth was put on pausewhile Windows 7's was set to fast forward: The almost-retired Windows 7 climbedsix-tenths of a percentage point to 40.9% of all personal computers and 46.7%of all PCs running Windows.

The crossover point - the moment when Windows10 powers a larger percentage of all Windows PCs than Windows 7 - now looks tobe December, according to Computerworld's calculations using theaverage monthly movement of each. As recently as last month, the crossover waspredicted to occur in October.

Crossover will not putan end to Windows 7, of course, nor put Windows 10 on every PC. Trends for thetwo operating systems now indicate that in January 2020, when Windows 7 reachesthe end of standard support, Windows 10 will run 57% of all Windows systems,with 38% still be powered by Windows 7. Because of the uncharacteristicdecrease of Windows 10 and the just-as-odd increase of Windows 7, those figureswere lower and higher, respectively, then they were a month ago.

Not surprisingly, Microsoft had a different take. In apresentation at last week's Ignite conference, Brad Anderson, a corporate vicepresident in Microsoft's enterprise mobility and management group, assertedthat Windows 10's crossover would take place much sooner. "Within the nexttwo weeks, we will cross the point where there will be more Windows 10 inthe enterprise than any other version of the operating system,"said Anderson (emphasis added). "In fact, it will cross the 50%line."

According to forecasts that rely on Net Applications' data,Windows 10 won't break the 50% bar (of all in-use PCs, notjust those in the enterprise) until May 2019. The difference could be explainedby Anderson's enterprisecitation, which would omit consumermachines as well as those running in any business that doesn't manage itsWindows PCs with SCCM (System Center Configuration Manager) or Intune.

It's to Microsoft's benefit to advance the change narrative.Only with Windows 7's demise can the Redmond, Wash. firm sell businesscustomers pricey Microsoft 365 subscriptions - now one of the cornerstones ofits strategy.

Anderson used the 50% bar to throw Microsoft's make-haste pitch."You can benchmark yourself. Where are you at today in your upgrade toWindows 10? Are you half-way through? If you're not, you're behind the rest ofthe industry. If you're ahead of that, you're ahead."

Elsewhere in the September data, the user share of Windows againfell, shedding three-tenths of a percentage point to 87.6%. The combined shareof all macOS and OS X editions accounted for 9.5%, an increase of one-tenth ofa point. Linux remained flat at 2.2%.

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