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Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 desktop OS shares rise, XP takes a dip, but is still going strong

Last month, Windows 8.1’s desktop OS share rose. However, so did Windows 7’s, and while Windows XP’s numbers took a bit of a dip, it’s still significantly more popular than Windows 8.1 by a wide margin.

According to Net Marketshare, Windows 8.1’s desktop OS share enjoyed an uptick from 4.3 percent in February to 4.89 percent last month. Meanwhile, Windows 7’s share rose from 47.31 percent in February to 48.77 percent in March. That’s an increase of almost a point and a half, which is impressive for an operating system that’s roughly four and a half years old. Windows 8’s share rose ever so slightly, from 6.38 percent in February, to 6.41 percent last month.

Then there’s Windows XP. Though its desktop OS share fell from 29.53 percent in February to 27.69 percent last month, a drop of almost two percentage points, it’s clearly miles ahead of Windows 8.1 in terms of use.

It’s worth noting that the increase in share for Windows 8.1, Windows 8 and Windows 7 likely cannibalized Windows XP. This could be due to two factors. Firstly, Windows 8.1 is a free download for Windows 8 users. Secondly, and perhaps more significantly, Microsoft’s support for Windows XP is set to conclude next week, and some may be scrambling to upgrade to a more modern version of the OS before the April 8 Windows XP end of support deadline arrives.

Microsoft could be steering people back to the desktop after trying to ween them off it with Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, as indicated by a reportedly leaked version of an upcoming Windows 8.1 update that boots straight to the classic UI by default. This combined with dominant marketshare enjoyed by its predecessors points to a continued pattern of anemic OS marketshare levels, especially considering that Windows 9 is rumored to be released sometime in the middle of 2015.

We could know more about Windows 8.1 Update 1, as it has been called, as well as Windows 9 tomorrow, when Microsoft kicks off its Build conference.

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