Windows 7 and Windows XP show no signs of dying

The market share of both Windows 7 and Windows XP show no signs of dying off anytime soon

Perhaps this is why Windows 10 will be a free upgrade to both Windows 7 and Windows 8 owners: Windows 7 users simply refuse to give up using Microsoft's older OS.

Net Applications' NetMarketshare numbers for January show the number of Windows 7 users at 55.92 per cent, which is near their 11-month high of 56.41 per cent. And the number of users of Windows XP -- whose share had plunged to 13.57 per cent last November -- are back up to 18.93 per cent of the total.

Microsoft has repeatedly warned that the older Windows XP operating system is subject to security vulnerabilities that will eventually put users at risk. (A registry hack will help protect it by identifying itself as an embedded version of Windows XP, which continues to receive updates.) Microsoft stopped officially supporting the Windows XP OS last April. Still, the majority of users continue to prefer using Microsoft's older operating systems.

Meanwhile, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 continue to chug along: Windows 8.1 stands at 10.04 percent, up from 9.49 percent in December but still down compared to the 12.1 percent it enjoyed in November. Windows 8, however, continues to decline, most likely indicating that users are simply upgrading to the latest version of the OS.

When you combine the market share of Windows 8 and 8.1 together, however, the numbers tell a slightly different story: From March 2014 until January 2015, the combined market share has steadily increased from 11.30 per cent to 13.83 per cent. An anomaly seemingly occurred during the holiday season, however, when the combined market share shot up to 16.80 per cent in October, then 18.66 per cent in November--then fell back to the slow, steady increases of the months before.

In browsers, Internet Explorer continued its dominance, with 22.26 per cent of all users, up slightly from December. Internet Explorer 8, used by Windows XP, totals 19.07 per cent. Google's Chrome 39 is used by 11.89 per cent of users, down slightly from December.

Why this matters

So far, Microsoft's customers have stubbornly clasped their Windows XP and Windows 7 systems to their chests, refusing to let go. That's fine, at least where market share numbers are concerned. But as Microsoft continues to build its business model on services and subscriptions, those older Windows XP users--and to a lesser extent, Windows 7 users -- are just there, not really contributing anything to Microsoft's bottom line. What can Microsoft do to kill Windows XP once and for all? That has to be a problem that's vexing Redmond right now.

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Mark Hachman

PC World (US online)
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