Preston Gralla

While you weren't looking, Windows 8 and Windows Phone start to shine

July 01, 2013 11:35 AM EDT

Windows 8 and Windows Phone have been unmitigated disasters, right? Wrong. The most recent market figures show Windows Phone making serious headway against its competitors, and Windows 8 uptake picking up.

Let's start with Windows Phone. The most recent numbers from Kantar Worldpanel show that Windows 8 has gone from a 3.7 percent market share in the U.S. in the three months ending May 2012, to a 4.6 percent market share in the U.S. in the three months ending May 2013. Not earth-shatting numbers, to be sure, but nearly a 5 percent market share for a smartphone operating system left for dead is pretty good.

That report follows one from Canalys which says that by 2017, Windows Phone will nearly overtake the iPhone worldwide, with a 12.7 percent market share compared to the iPhone's 14.1 percent market share.

An important demographic for Windows Phone are first-time smartphone buyers, and they're starting to flood the market. That means a potentially bright future for Windows Phone. In a recent report Kantar Worldpanel ComTech analyst Mary-Ann Parlato said:

"Windows strength appears to be the ability to attract first time smartphone buyers, upgrading from a featurephone. Of those who changed their phone over the last year to a Windows smartphone, 52% had previously owned a featurephone...with over half of the US market still owning a featurephone, it's likely that many will upgrade over the coming year, which will ultimately contribute to more growth for the Windows brand."

As for Windows 8, the most recent figures from Net Applications show that for June, Windows 8 had 5.1 percent of operating system traffic, up from 4.27 percent in May. That's a nice jump for a single month. And for the first time, it puts Windows 8 traffic ahead of Vista traffic.

Now, I know that around a 5 percent market share for Windows 8 and Windows Phone is not a spectacular number. But keep in mind that both these operating systems have essentially been seen a flameouts. The most recent market numbers show that they're making steady growth, which at this point, Microsoft should be pleased with.