With shipments of Windows-powered devices -- personal computers, 2-in-1s, tablets and smartphones -- forecast to decline in 2015, then stabilize and slowly grow in the following two years, Apple's iOS and OS X will edge past Windows to take the second-place OS spot on new devices in 2017.
Microsoft's Windows will become a third-place operating system by 2017, research firm Gartner said.
By then, Apple's combination of iOS and OS X -- the former powering iPhones and iPads, the latter Macs, and the pair increasingly alike in features if not in functionality -- will have slipped by Windows on the number of devices shipped during the year, Gartner's latest forecast showed.
According to Gartner, which provided Computerworld with its forecast broken out by OS, Windows will power about 308 million devices shipped in 2015, a 6% year-over-year decline. The 308 million represents 12.9% of the total of 2.4 billion devices shipped, nearly 80% of that massive number smartphones, and the majority of those smartphones running Google's Android. Gartner's previous forecast, released in July, pegged Windows at 323 million devices, or 13.2% of the total.
Gartner has progressively downsized its estimates of both total devices shipped and Windows' portion of those shipments, throughout 2015. In March, for example, the research firm projected that Windows would power 331 million devices shipped this year, representing 13.3% of the total.
Earlier long-range numbers were even more different: In July, Gartner forecast Windows on 370 million shipped devices for 2017 for a 14.1% share, while March's estimate augured 383 million and 14.4%. The newest projection tapped 326 million Windows devices for 2017, representing 12.9%.
The continued downward turns in Gartner's outlook on Windows signaled the researcher's belief that the OS's retreat has only accelerated.
With Windows' contracting in 2015 and minus meaningful growth until 2017, the opening will let iOS/OS X capture second place behind Android, the world's most popular OS.
(Gartner considers iOS and OS X, if not one operating system, then allied because of their shared origin. Similarly, Gartner deems Windows on the desktop and Windows on mobile as one OS for its forecast purposes, a practice that makes much more sense in the Windows 10 world, where differences are significantly less than earlier editions, and frankly, much less than between iOS and OS X.)
In 2015, iOS/OS X will power 298 million of the devices shipped, accounting for 12.4% of the total. The following two years it will creep up on Windows and then push ahead: For 2017, Gartner forecast iOS/OS X at 326.6 million devices, a tad in front of Windows' 325.9 million.
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