As XP's user share fell last month, the combination of Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 gained six-tenths of a percentage point to end March with 11.3% of all personal computers, or 12.4% of only those running Windows. Windows 8's increase was also its largest since December.
Of the combined user share of both editions, the newer Windows 8.1, which will likely receive a feature update this week or next, accounted for 43% of the total, a three-point increase over the month before.
The adoption of Windows 8 and 8.1 continued to lag far behind that of Windows 7 at the same point in the latter's uptake cycle. Seventeen months after Windows 7's debut, it powered 27% of all Windows machines, more than double Windows 8's and 8.1's.
And while Windows 8 remained ahead of Windows Vista's pace, the gap between the two continued to narrow last month, with the former now just seven-tenths of a percentage point higher than the latter. In February, the difference was 1.1 points.
Not surprisingly, Windows 7 gained more ground at XP's expense than did Windows 8/8.1, increasing its user share by 1.5 percentage points to end March with a 48.8% share of all personal computers, and a 53.6% share of only the ones running Windows of one stripe or another.
Most analysts who track Microsoft and its operating systems expect that Windows 7 will remain the standard, particularly in businesses, for years to come. Windows 7 won't retire until January 2020.
Net Applications measures operating system user share by tracking unique visitors to approximately 40,000 sites that rely on its metrics software.
Its figures typically differ from those rival StatCounter generates because the two measure differently: StatCounter tallies "usage share" by counting page views to show how active users of each OS are on the Web.
StatCounter's Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 usage share of all desktop PCs totaled 12.3% in February, higher than Net Applications' number. And the Irish metrics firm pegged Windows XP at just 18.6% and Windows 7 at 54.7%, lower and higher, respectively.
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