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Windows on verge of dropping below 90% market share

Jon Brodkin | Jan. 13, 2011
Windows is on the verge of dropping below 90% market share, with Macs, smartphones and tablets posing an increasingly serious threat to Microsoft's dominance of the operating system market.

"I have no doubt that the number of Windows users has grown significantly over 2010, and am equally confident in growth in the number of users of Mac OS in 2010," Vizzaccaro says. "What we're seeing is faster growth in mobile and tablet usage. I don't think Windows Phone 7 has been on the market long enough yet to help Microsoft on the mobile front, but I do believe Microsoft recognizes how important the mobile arena is, and is focused on being successful there."

While Net Applications' data shows Windows' market share dropping from 93.74% in February 2009 to 90.29% in December 2010, Mac moved from 4.55% to 5.02% in the same time frame. Net Applications collects its data from about 40,000 websites, counting unique visitors, specifically "one unique visit to each network site per day."

Linux held steady, sticking at about 0.96%. But Apple's (AAPL) iOS rose from 0.23% in February 2009 to 1.69% in December 2010. Android only accounts for 0.40% of operating systems but is on the upswing. Java ME quadrupled share from 0.23% to 0.91% in the past two years.

Microsoft has also long dominated the browser market because most Windows users surf the Web with Internet Explorer, the OS's built-in browser. But the rise of viable alternatives such as Mozilla's Firefox and Google (GOOG) Chrome has eaten into Microsoft's browser share as well.

Internet Explorer share dropped from 69.72% in January 2009 to 57.08% in December 2010, according to Net Applications data, with Firefox holding steady in the 22% range and Chrome rocketing up from 1.52% to 9.98%.

StatCounter's figures show even more depressing news for Microsoft on the browser front. StatCounter has Internet Explorer usage dropping to 46.94% in December, with more than half of all Web browsing now taking place on Firefox, Chrome and the Mac's Safari.

While Net Applications tracks only unique visitors, StatCounter's numbers compile all the hits across a network of 3 million websites. One possible explanation for the difference between Net Applications and StatCounter browsing data is that the most active Web users choose Firefox and Chrome instead of Internet Explorer. In that scenario, most computer users would surf the Web with Internet Explorer, but the majority of total browsing would occur on non-Microsoft browsers. But further research is probably necessary to make that determination.

In an e-mail response to Network World, StatCounter says "It is certainly possible that Firefox and Chrome users could consume more pageviews per day than IE users ... however we haven't established any evidence to that effect ourselves."

 

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