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Windows by the numbers: Real gains or just an illusion?


Increases in Windows 7’s share, Windows 10’s, too, were more mirage than material last month.

According to California-based analytics company Net Applications, Windows 7 grew by half a percentage point to finish September with 22.8% of the global personal computer operating system share. However, when calculated as a portion of only Windows, that share climbed just one-tenth of a point, to 25.8%. This second number was the more important of the two, as it was a truer representation of Windows 7’s path.

(Windows 7’s percentage of only Windows PCs (the 25.8%) was larger than the percentage of all personal computers (the 22.8%), because Windows does not power every system. In September, Windows was the OS of 88.3% of the world’s personal computers, up an amazing 1.3 percentage points from August. Of the remaining 11% and change, all but a tiny slice ran macOS, Linux or Chrome OS.)

The sudden spike of Windows’ overall share meant that individual editions of Microsoft’s OS had to also climb just to remain in place when calculated as a portion of Windows. What appeared as a significant gain in, say, Windows 7’s share of all personal computer OSes was, in effect, nothing more than a minor advance in Windows 7’s share of Windows because of the latter’s upsurge.

Under normal conditions, if Windows 7 share goes up, Windows 10’s share would almost certainly go down. Not in September. Windows 10’s portion of all personal computers jumped seven-tenths of a percentage point to end September at 61.3%, a record for the five-year-old OS.

But to make it even more confusing, Windows 10 did slump, at least in the metric that counts. As a part of Windows only, Windows 10 fell two-tenths of a point, recording 69.4% for the month.

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