The uptake has also made Windows 8 fair game for all kinds of shots. The latest came from Dell, the world's third-largest computer maker and a long-time Microsoft partner, which listed Windows 8's "uncertain adoption" as one of several reasons why its PC business has failed to meet internal revenue projections.
Windows XP, which is only a year from forced retirement, fell by a quarter of a percentage point in March, its smallest decline since June 2010, hinting that users' hands might have to be pried from the OS. In March, XP accounted for 42% of all Windows systems worldwide.
Projections based on Windows XP's average monthly loss over the last year now peg the operating system with a usage share of 30% in April 2014, the month Microsoft plans to drop all support except for custom enterprise plans, which cost a fortune.
Windows 7, meanwhile, gained two-tenths of a point of usage share last month to end with 49% of all Windows PCs, indicating that the stalwart edition won't be affected much, if at all, by the launch of Windows 8 in the short-term. Most analysts, in fact, believe that Windows 7 will continue to gain share as enterprises -- and consumers -- running XP finally abandon the 12-year-old operating system and migrate to 2009's Windows 7, rather than make the radical leap to Windows 8 and its two UIs.
Vista slipped under the 5% mark for the first time since June 2007, just five months after its debut. If Windows 8 and Vista continue gaining and losing, respectively, at their three-month averages, the former will pass the latter's usage share in May to become the third-most-used edition of Windows on the desktop.
Net Applications measures operating system usage by tracking unique visitors to some 40,000 websites operated by its customers.
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