Net Applications' statistics, being estimates of share rather than of numbers of devices in use, are often inscrutable as to the cause of any changes, whether positive or negative. The lack of movement in XP and Windows 8 is most likely only temporary, as there are precedents for such stops and starts.
Even so, the adoption of Windows 8 and 8.1 continued to badly lag behind that of Windows 7 at the latter's same point in its uptake cycle. Fifteen months after Windows 7's debut, it powered 25% of all personal computers, more than double Windows 8's and 8.1's.
The dynamics of the marketplace are completely different today than three years ago. Then, consumers and businesses had little choice for their computing devices' operating system; today, tablets running Android and iOS are being bought and used as either PC replacements or companions, depressing new PC sales, which Microsoft has historically used to grow the latest OS's user share.
Windows 8 did remain ahead of Windows Vista's pace, but the gap between the two narrowed by one-tenth of a percentage point last month. Vista has become a benchmark of sorts for Windows 8 as observers increasingly compare the two. Those comparisons are Windows 8's loss since Vista was one of Microsoft's rare full-fledged failures.
Net Applications measures operating system user share by tracking unique visitors to approximately 40,000 sites that rely on its metrics software.
The company's figures are often at odds with those rival StatCounter generates because the two measure differently. StatCounter tallies usage share via page views to show how active users of each OS are on the Web.
StatCounter's Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 usage share for desktops totaled 10.3% in January, just a shade lower than Net Applications'. But the Irish metrics firm pegged Windows XP at just 17.8% and Windows 7 at 50.3%, much lower and somewhat higher, respectively.
Windows 8/8.1's combined uptake stalled in January after a nice gain the month before. But it remained far behind Windows 7's adoption pace. (Data: Net Applications.)
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