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Windows 10's usage share lead over Windows 7 evaporates

Gregg Keizer | Dec. 1, 2015
Even a free upgrade offer can't sustain Windows 10's early head start over Windows 7 in each operating system's first 123 days.

Windows 10 could again outpace Windows 7 in adoption if large numbers of consumers purchase new PCs in the weeks ahead. That, however, is unlikely according to industry analysis, which has forecast continued sluggish sales as a four-year contraction in PC shipments stretches out even longer.

Most of the PC business now involves replacing old machines with new systems, and with corporations planning migrations to Windows 10 for 2017 and later -- and consumers less likely to replace their PCs in any case -- Windows 10 faces headwinds Windows 7 never did. Current estimates by IDC, for instance, are for PC shipments to reach 282 million for 2015, down 10% from 2009 when Windows 7 made its adoption charge.

Microsoft is doing all it can to juice Windows 10's uptake.

Windows 10 usage share chart 2 
Charting Windows 10 and Windows 7 usage share at the same points in their post-release lifespan shows how the latter slowly overtook the former around the 120-day mark. Click on image to enlarge. Data: StatCounter

The Redmond, Wash. company has made several unprecedented moves in pushing Windows 10 to customers now running Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, including some that have not yet taken effect. Early next year, Microsoft will tap the Windows 10 upgrade so it automatically downloads to consumer PCs and even begin the installation process.

Those decisions, along with whatever new PC sales are rung up at store registers in the next month, will probably restore Windows 10's usage share growth, and its dominance over Windows 7 at the same point in its after-launch timeline.

If they don't, Microsoft will no longer be able to boast that Windows 10 is its fastest-growing OS. More importantly, it will illustrate the systemic problems in the PC industry, and Microsoft's reliance on that form factor.

Interesting times.


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