Today there are several reports surfacing about Windows 10 usage trends and these numbers are being questioned because other market share measuring companies are showing lower usage in comparison.
This is understandable because some of those companies are measuring visitors to a certain pool of sites that have opted into being part of that network. Think of this network of websites as if they were Nielsen families for websites. While these types of samples are useful for estimating usage they can be off because some users may never visit any of those partner websites.
Although there has been plenty of complaints about Microsoft collecting basic telemetry stats from Windows users, it does allow them to have a much more accurate picture of what versions of Windows are in use out there across the Internet. Telemetry also does not require a visit to a website for a device to be measured.
The Windows usage stats that have been updated recently are those listed at Microsoft's Windows and Store Trends website. The purpose of this site is to help developers understand current trends for Windows and the Windows Store so they can make decisions about what type of app to develop and sell.
I am going to talk about the numbers shortly, but I want to highlight a couple of statements on this statistics page that can help everyone understand where the numbers are coming from.
"The reports on this page provide data about Windows usage, including what kinds of hardware our customers are using to run Windows, and data about app purchases and downloads from the Windows Store."
"The Windows usage data is obtained from customers who have opted to send us telemetry data. The app purchase and download data comes directly from the Windows Store."
Note: The highlighting is mine.
So bottom line is these numbers are based on actual usage data and not sales, pre-sales or website visits. I mention this because at least one site indicated that these usage numbers from Microsoft included unsold devices that are sitting on store shelves.
Another issue some have with the Microsoft data is that only Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and 10 systems are listed to reach a total of 100%.
At this point in history Windows Vista's usage is miniscule as it was never a popular operating system and that showed in its limited adoption. As for the operating system that will remain unnamed - it's XP (don't tell anyone) - its usage is and has been declining for quite some time. Plus it is no longer a supported operating system so why would Microsoft provide stats to developers on an expired operating system for targeting apps?
Microsoft tends to update the Windows and Store Trend page about once a quarter so the latest numbers that were published are from September 2014 to August 2016. Keep in mind Windows 10 was not generally available until 29 July 2015.
In the past year, Windows 10 market share has increased from 9% of the users to 43%. That's a nearly five-fold increase.
By contrast, Windows 8/81. dropped from 25% of all users in August 2015 to 15% of all users in August 2016. That's a 40% decline in user share. And Windows 7 — which had locked down 63% of Windows users in August 2015 - saw a 33% decline in its share of users. It now has only 42% of the user base.
To recap: Windows 10 now leads with 43% of all Windows users, Windows 7 is clinging to 42% of the installed user base, and Windows 8 has 15%.
Now bear in mind that Windows 10 was a free upgrade from July 2015 to August 2016, so its quick adoption was not a surprise — and neither will the slowdown in adoption rates. We won't be able to quantify the slow-down of adoption until Microsoft either updates their momentum numbers, currently at over 400 million users as of September 26, 2016, or they update the Windows and Store trends page.
By the way, the Windows and Store trends page also contains some interesting statistics about system configurations and Windows Store app trends. Check it out for some light reading!