Windows by the numbers: Windows 10 is on track to reach 85% by mid-2021

It's not unusual for Windows 10 use to rise as Windows 7's use falls, which is what happened (again) in June. One continuing surprise: it was the third straight month where Linux saw gains.

windows 10 acts like windows 7
Microsoft

Windows 10 recorded strong growth again in June as the five-year-old operating system added more than a percentage point in share just as the now-obsolete Windows 7 retreated by almost as much.

According to metrics vendor Net Applications, Windows 10 grew by 1.1 percentage points to reach 58.9% of global OS share last month, which represented 68% of all Windows' editions. Both numbers were again records for Windows 10, with the latter putting the operating system on track for reaching a 70% share of Windows within 60 days.

Windows 10's percentage of only Windows PCs was significantly larger than the percentage of all personal computers because Windows does not power every system. In June, Windows was the OS of 86.7% of the world's personal computers, the same fraction as in May and like that month, a record low for Microsoft's operating system. Of the remaining 13.3%, all but a puny seven-hundredths of a point ran macOS, Linux or Chrome OS.

As Windows 10 went up, so Windows 7 went down.

For the second straight month, Windows 7 lost share, parting in June with nine-tenths of a percentage point, dropping to 23.4% of all PCs and to 26.9% of just Windows. Windows 7 hadn't been at a share level that low since January 2011, more than nine years ago and only 15 months after its launch.

Back to normal? Windows, maybe ... the world, not so much

This two-month run of Windows share normalcy – Windows 7 loses share, Windows 10 picks it up, plus some – was in contrast to earlier this year, when the reverse was the case. Computerworld has tried to explain the odd turnabout as caused, at least partially, by the coronavirus pandemic and the chaos it generated when millions were sent home to work from there.

In those explanations, the historic work-at-home numbers and the abandonment of the usual workplaces meant a downturn in Windows 7-to-Windows 10 migrations – accounting for the March-April rise of the former and fall of the latter. Then, in May, when some parts of the country took steps to reopen commerce and companies called employees back to their normal work-day haunts, the tide reversed, with Windows 7 falling and 10 climbing.

Frankly, while that thinking may be true, the upside-down, inside-out of COVID-19's impact makes it all guesswork. For although some parts of the world – Europe comes to mind – have made solid strides in restarting economies, other swaths – the U.S., for example – are in such disarray that one state relaxes restrictions even as another restores lockdown.

Short version? At least something is normal, more or less. Be happy with that.

The June upswing shifted the Computerworld forecasts for both Windows 7 and Windows 10. The former should slide under 20% of all Windows not long after 2020's end; a year from now, Windows 7 will dip to around 13%. Meanwhile, Windows 10 will pass 70% (of Windows only) by the end of August and within a year, reach nearly 85%.

Elsewhere in Net Applications' numbers, June saw a third straight unexplained upswell by Linux. The category, which lumps together all distributions, added four-tenths of a percentage point, putting the open-source OS at a record 3.6%. The almost-identical decline of macOS fed the increase of Linux, again illustrating the zero-sum nature of share. Unless one operating system suffers, others cannot rejoice.

Ubuntu again was behind Linux's gain; Canonical's OS accounted for all of the increase, ending June at 2.6%. Currently, Net Applications pegs Linux at a share more than a third of Apple's macOS.

Net Applications calculates operating system share by detecting the agent strings of the browsers used to reach the websites of Net Applications' clients. The firm tallies visitor sessions of those browsers to measure global operating system activity.

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