Windows 8 hasn't set the world on fire. Still, recent data suggests Microsoft's new operating system is making progress.
Windows Vista, a newer version than XP but much less popular with users, had only 4.62% in June. That's actually up slightly from 4.51% in May, but Vista is still in a slow death spiral. Since December it has bled away almost 19% of its market share.
Together, all Windows versions accounted for 91.51% of the field, a share that has been more or less consistent over the last year. Microsoft's platforms cumulatively hit a 12-month low of 91.45% in November, the first month in which Windows 8 was widely available, and a 12-month high of 91.89% in March. The various versions of Apple's OS X, meanwhile, accounted for 7.2%. Mac systems climbed to 7.3% during the build-up to Windows 8, fell below 7% in March, and have since inched back up.
Tablets and smartphones have disrupted the personal computing market, with millions of users turning to non-Microsoft platforms for many of their common needs. Because of this shift, it's possible that no single OS will ever again enjoy the dominance of past Windows releases. Nonetheless, Win8's June performance portends a possible surge in adoption.
Many of the factors working in the OS's favor are still several months away, or in early stages. Intel's new Haswell chips are delivering all-day battery life and improved GPU performance to Win8 Ultrabooks and tablets, for example, but these devices are only just hitting the market. A final version of Windows 8.1 that's suited for the average user won't appear until later this year. Tablets that come pre-installed with Office are also still on the horizon, as are the low-cost Win8 devices that will run on the next version of Intel's Atom platform.
It's likely, in other words, that Win8 adoption perked up because at least a few hesitant buyers have been reassured as Microsoft has disclosed its intentions. If previews and press conferences can increase adoption, then the impact should even stronger once new products start shipping.
Microsoft also has been offering free and discounted Surface tablets to developers, partners and customers at recent conferences. It's possible that the new users not only account for a marginal uptick in device usage but also, given their relatively influential roles within their companies, increased interest overall.
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