Windows 7’s market share has been dropping faster than previously thought, according to one analyst firm, and for the first time since it's launch, the operating system is now being run by less than half of all Windows users.
According to NetMarketShare, in November the overall desktop market share of Windows 7 dropped by a hefty 3.5% down to 43.12%. Microsoft will doubtless be pleased to see that Windows 10 now isn’t that far behind on 31.95%.
And as mentioned, looking at the statistics which track only versions of Windows (i.e. without Mac or Linux installations), Windows 7 is now on a 48.8% market share, which represents a drop of 2.6% since the previous month.
There’s more to this story than initially meets the eye, though. NetMarketShare tracks the installed user base of desktop operating systems via web analytics – in other words, tracking the OS used by site visitors across a large sample slice of the web.
And some of those web users aren’t real people, but bots. These are fake users: automated pieces of software pretending to be human web traffic, and artificially inflating figures.
Rise of the bots
NetMarketShare observed that the rise of bot traffic on the web has accelerated dramatically in recent times, to the extent that it has felt the need to rejig its statistics to better ignore this false traffic.
The analyst firm noted: “Bots can cause significant skewing of data. In particular, we have seen situations where traffic from certain large countries is almost completely bot traffic. In other countries, ad fraudsters generate traffic that spoofs certain technologies in order to generate high-value clicks.”
Hence the overhaul of the method of collecting statistics, and the new results, complete with a major drop for Windows 7, because this OS is the most-used platform in terms of bot traffic (because it’s the most prevalent operating system out there, and it makes sense to hide the false traffic among the masses, where it will be less conspicuous).
Of course, folks may well be tempted to put Windows 7’s drop purely down to this new methodology of putting together the stats, but NetMarketShare has actually rejigged all its previous results for past months, showing that Windows 7’s share has been overestimated all along.
In October, for example, Windows 7 actually held a 43% share going by the refreshed data, which was 3.6% less than the analyst company estimated at the time using the bot-skewed data.
The long and short of it is: Windows 7’s figures have been overblown for some time, and Windows 10 has been catching the older OS faster than we thought. And Microsoft will certainly be happy to hear that.
As mentioned, Windows 10 is now only just over 10% behind Windows 7 according to NetMarketShare, and it might not be too long before that gap is fully closed.
Another recent major statistical shift (on the Steam platform) showed that, on the face of things, gamers are abandoning Windows 10 – but there was a good explanation for that, as we discuss here.
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