Ken's Project Blog

February 10, 2011

Computer Operating System Market Share

Filed under: Technology — Ken @ 9:18 am

This post is a bit off the typical topic of this blog – I’ll be brief, but I came across the above chart this morning and it gave me pause. I have friends who like to advocate for their favorite computer operating system, be it Apple OS X, Linux, or even Microsoft Windows, and like to extrapolate wild outcomes that are just around the corner, based on nothing more than a small shift in a statistic.

If you look at the above chart from Net Marketshare, which spans the previous eleven months, the one thing that stands out is that the month-to-month market shares are pretty consistent – the actual up and down-ticks are detailed here – with the only real shifts occurring in Windows (down 1.88% of market share, about a 5% drop) and iOS (up 1.43% of market share, nearly tripling), with the “other” classification nearly doubling to 1.24% from 0.66% of market share. These statistics are generated by tracking what browsers self-identify as their underlying operating system when opening web sites, so they are far from conclusive, but they do serve to indicate trends.

You’ll notice that the changes in market share that I highlighted doesn’t include Linux – well, Linux, the little OS that, according to its supporters, has been on the verge of breaking out and “kicking Windows butt” for years, but the reality is that Linux can’t seem to break out of a 1% of market share, but fear not Linux enthusiasts – these numbers are based on browser activity, and since few users run browsers from their servers, you can still imagine that your favorite operating system is dominating the server market, by their nature servers are harder to track, but a few have tried.

The increase in iOS usage is no real surprise, since that is the operating system that runs on the iPod Touch, as well as iPads and iPhones, all of which are selling like gangbusters and are used as additional devices no matter the operating system a particular user has on their desktop, laptop, or netbook – in fact, the iOS number may over-represent the market share of those devices, as they likely “steal” browser sessions from Windows, OS X, and Linux systems, for instance when a user checks movie times on their iPhone instead of walking over to a desktop computer.

I don’t see any significant shift in the market share of the various operating systems people use, but that won’t stop enthusiasts from reading way too much into the slightest movement in the above numbers.


Net Marketshare: Top Operating System Share Trend Usage share of operating systems entry

Operating System Links: Microsoft Windows, Apple iOS, Linux [Red Hat|Ubuntu]


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