Every now and then, I have to check in over at NetMarketShare.com, to see what’s happening with the distribution of desktop OSes that the company detects on the Internet. This morning, I couldn’t help but notice that as Windows XP’s marketshare continues to decline — as it should, being now well past end of life — the difference appears to be split between Windows 7 and the Windows 8 versions (namely 8.0 and 8.1, represented separately). Here’s the current snapshot from the site:
As XP’s share drops, Windows 7 and 8 versions appear to be splitting that difference.
[Source: NetMarketShare.com Desktop OS Market Share for 2/9/2015]
With Windows 7 now enjoying clear majority status, it’s clear that Microsoft has to make Windows 10 as compelling as possible. With a GA date of October 26, 2012 for Windows 8, and October 17, 2013 for Windows 8.1, that means we’ve been messing with 8 versions for 27 months (for 8.0, with 15 months for 8.1). The figure certainly puts Microsoft’s desire to move all Windows 8 users up to 8.1, and also helps to explain why the company is offering a “free upgrade” to both Windows 7 and 8.1 users — it’s obviously the best way to capture as much of that substantial majority (66% not counting 8.0, nearly 70% with 8.0 included) of all desktops and move it along to the upcoming flagship version.
Everybody understands the stakes, and Microsoft’s mission has to be crystal clear: to give both personal and business users as many compelling reasons to upgrade as they possibly can. Though Windows 10 still has plenty of rough edges, and still lacks some of its key new functionality, so far MS has done rather better than worse to make a case that the upgrade is at least worth considering. Any by taking the cost out of the equation (at least for the first year past the GA date, whatever that turns out to be) they’ve certainly removed at least one potential sticking point for those inclined to try the new OS to see how they like it.
The next six months or so, as we inch ever closer to Windows 10’s General Availability (GA) date, should be very interesting indeed. A substantial portion of MS’s ongoing business viability hangs in that balance.