Out with the old, in with the new: Windows XP use falls sharply, while 8.1 soars impressively

windows xp share falls abruptly 8 1 soars impressively

The ruler of the desktop operating system kingdom continues to exert unflinching dominance, but things are suddenly and surprisingly shifting in second and third place. That’s according to Net Marketshare, whose latest OS stats paint a hugely favorable picture of Windows 8.1 usage lately.

The newest fully-fledged iteration of Windows grew by a staggering 4.25 percent in the last month. 8.1’s share for September was reported at 6.67, and now, all of a sudden, we’re in double-digit land at 10.92 percent.

That’s shocking, to say the least, given that Windows 8.1 is over a full year old. Previously, the touch-centric platform actually lost almost half of a percentage point between August and September. Going back further, Win 8.1 use increased between May and September, but only by a measly 0.32 percent.

Some would argue that the instant increase in popularity was inevitable. After all, it’s not that Windows users are discovering 8.1 now and instantaneously falling in love with it. Many older PCs are due for upgrades, and 8.1 is the newest choice available, at least until Windows 10 exits beta form.

Clearly, 8.1 is eroding XP’s lingering fan-base, as the out-of-support OS fell from 23.87 percent of usage in September, to 17.18 in October. That’s a mind-boggling loss of over six percent. Windows 7 and 8 both got boosts as well. Their increases were minor, but notable nonetheless.

Windows 8’s combined share with 8.1 is marginally behind Win XP’s figures (5.88 percent solo, and 16.8 when merged with 8.1). That latter number is up from 12.26 percent last month. So, we’re looking at growth in the area of 4.5 percentage points. That’s impressive.

As far as Win 7 goes, despite its age, the five year old OS continues to thrive. More than half of the pie is 7-controlled, and the gap between the gold and silver medalists has grown to more than 35 percent.

In other words, Windows 7 is three times as popular as XP.

The number of PCs running Win 7 out and about tops the combined total of computers on all other platforms. The 53.05 percent spike represents an increase of 0.34 from September.

In the lower ranks, we find Mac OS X 10.9 capturing a 3.66 percent share, down from 4.05 last month. Windows Vista is somehow holding its own, at 2.82 points, which is only marginally down from 3.07 in September.

All in all, it’s a little bizarre to see such radical changes after so many months of relative peace and quiet. But if the statistics are accurate, we’re glad, for reasons related to security. Windows XP is dying, and the sooner users realize it, the better.