April this year signalled the 'official' end of Windows XP support for customers without extended support packages, yet it took until last month for Microsoft's flagship desktop OS, Windows 8.1, to overtake the ageing XP, reports Statcounter. Windows 8.1 achieved a significant jump in market share between October and November rising from 9.31 to 10.95 per cent. Commentators believe the 'back-to-school' shopping season was behind much of this growth, in tandem with the accelerated decline of Windows XP since its retirement.
The desktop incumbent, Windows 7, has remained strong throughout with a steady 50 per cent market share for the last year. This would suggest that Windows 8.1 is growing at the expensive of other Microsoft operating systems: Windows XP, Vista and 8, the latter is recorded as a distinct OS to 8.1.
The other main source of desktop OS market share data, Netmarketshare, recorded similar gains for Windows 8.1 last month, though it shows XP as still narrowly ahead of Windows 8.1. Irrespective of which statistics are used it is clear that Windows 8.1 is gaining ground in the desktop space. The recent Black Friday sales will have boosted Windows 8.1's cause even further as consumers renew their Windows devices.
Despite the surge of recent growth, Windows 8.1 has performed relatively poorly in market share compared to the past successes of Windows XP and Windows 7. Microsoft will be hoping Windows 10 can change all that; the upcoming OS is expected to have its consumer preview launch as early as January next year. Industry sources, however, aren't so optimistic about Windows 10 turning the PC market around.