back to article Windows XP beats 8.1 in December market share stats

Windows 7 remains the planet's dominant desktop operating system, but Windows XP again claimed second place during December 2014 according to data from and Netmarketshare. We've tracked the two firms' data for a year now and both have produced some odd dips and surges, reflecting their imperfect methods of …

  1. unitron

    I'd consider switching from XP to 7...

    ...except I'd feel like I was really getting jerked around since 7 is selling for more than 8.1 (especially if you're trying to avoid having to go with the OEM version)

    I wonder what the explanation for that little mystery could be.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: I'd consider switching from XP to 7...

      Win 7 costs more than 8.1 BECAUSE Microsoft does not want you to use Win 7.

      for most people, Win7 is good enough becuse they don't want those silly tiles and are not using touch screens.

      Yes you can get rid of them but most punters won't have a clue about how to do it.

      ergo, the lower price attracts (as well as the only thing they are letting the major OEM builders ship with it installed now)

      all the bleating and wailing from us 'experts' ain't gonna change that attitude until windows 10 goes GA.

      1. Wade Burchette

        Re: I'd consider switching from XP to 7...

        Until Microsoft reintroduces Aero and removes all that Bing/advertising/Live ID junk found in Windows 8/8.1 and currently still found in Windows 10, then you will have to pry Windows 7 from my cold, dead fingers. It is bad enough websites track you, it is much worse when your OS does. Sure I can turn it off, but the default settings is on. And most people don't know because when they first turn on W8 they get two options "Express (recommend)" and "Customize" -- people don't know that what Microsoft recommends means it benefits Microsoft not you. This "cloud first, mobile first" strategy Microsoft has really means "customer last". And then during set up you get to a step which try to force you to use a Live ID to sign in. To use a local account, which EVERYONE should do no exception, requires two steps which are not straightforward. Everyone should use a local account because I've met several people whose password suddenly stopped working and every single one had a Live ID account to log in. Four times is not a coincidence, it is a trend. And the problem plagued both Windows 8 and 8.1.

        Until the tracking for advertising purposes is gone and until the OS is easy on the eyes, I will put off upgrading as long as I possibly can.

        1. pirithous

          Re: I'd consider switching from XP to 7...

          Those are all concerns, but so is the NSA backdoor in Windows 8.x.

      2. big_D Silver badge

        Re: I'd consider switching from XP to 7...

        Windows 7 is no longer officially available (Pro and Enterprise are, but standard and Ultimate aren't), so that you are either comparing Win 8 core against Win 7 Pro, or somebody is flogging off their remaining Win 7 standard stock at higher rates, because they are becoming rarer than fairy turds.

    2. Col_Panek

      Re: I'd consider switching from XP to 7...

      Take off the Microsoft handcuffs!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Doesn't matter

    how much sugar they pour on the shit sandwich that is Windows 8(.1), the fact it is this, it is as unloved as Vista and will reside in the same place for all eternity....

    1. Stuart 22

      Re: Doesn't matter

      But, as the headline does say 8.1 is more loved - or at least used than XP.

      I have a special interest in the demise of XP/IE8 as it is the main blocker to implementing SNI on webservers (SSL without separate IPs). My interest is only to visitors who are almost exclusively UK based.

      It was running at about 10% in April (end of support) and was declining very slowly until the last couple of months of 2014. It really looked like it would never die. Then it crashed to about 2.5% of users.

      But there you are. Whatever you think of 8.1 is it is here and growing, at least until Win10 hits the shelves. Pure XP (with IE8) is now history. And I always preferred Win2000 anyway. But no way am I going to expose that to the internet.

  3. Tim Roberts 1

    I quite like xp

    At home l the ham radio software that I use runs on it very well . At work I'm forced to use 7/8/8.1 - Whatever is newest and (best) - but I'll let the systems admins sort out the crap when I cannot do it myself.

  4. Bob Vistakin

    Support is impossible

    Not from ms, but from us poor IT admins for friends and family. I had someone this Christmas asking what laptop to buy from PC World - a good family friend in his 70's. I told him to try to get a Win 7 one so that I could help him set it up when he got home and with the occasional err, "hiccup" he will inevitably encounter. So he tried this and at the store was insistent he didn't want the hated Win 8 on, and was told straight it wasn't possible. In the end he was totally bamboozled into getting one with excellent hardware, ruined by Win 8 - something even Vista would have been an improvement over. So what the fuck do I do when he asks me for help? What do I advise others to do who ask the same question?

    1. N2

      Re: Support is impossible

      I tell free loaders for support to stick it behind the rear wheel of my Landrover so I can reverse over it, that'll fix it good an proper... the conversation usually switches to a different subject fairly quickly.

      1. Bob Vistakin

        Re: Support is impossible

        Agreed, unless the person requesting support had spent a lifetime helping you. By telling them to avoid Win 8, I am helping him - its just the nasty way ms have stacked things up so those who don't know about the emperors new clothes tell him otherwise.

    2. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: Support is impossible

      Windows 8/8.1 isn't too bad - if it's a touch screen device. Using it with a mouse is terrible.

      I was on holiday in Canada and was seduced by the Asus Transformer Book T100, the fact it ran a x86 processor I thought if I didn't like Windows 8 I could always stick Linux on it (which it turns out I can't now). Anyway, I've used it fairly regularly mostly for editing some Excel spreadsheets and Football Manager, it's alright. It's not brilliant, but it's not poor either.

      I would say, especially as Windows 10 isn't getting rid of the Metro/Tile system, it wouldn't hurt your personal development to at least know how to deal with the enemy.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Support is impossible

        You barely use the menu, frequently used stuff gets pinned to the task bar, it's really not a big deal.

        The system as a whole is much more stable and quicker than past systems from MS, it's really noticeably more solid. An OS is more than an application menu, that you can pretty much ignore anyway.

        1. Bob Vistakin

          Re: Support is impossible


          You still talking about Win 8? If they are prepared to ditch everything they know, your reasoning applies to any of the modern Linux distros.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Support is impossible

            Yes, win 8 and it's really just the application menu, the other gubbins is pretty much the same as 7.

            Linux is a fine OS, but an OS is more than an app menu, and I want to run windows games at home and I need vis. studio for work (not my decision).

            My telly has a linux box attached, I very rarely use the app menu on that either.

        2. P. Lee

          Re: Support is impossible

          @ ZanzibarRastapopulous

          That's my assessment. There are probably some better technical bits to W8, but we really don't need or want a new UI.

          MS problem is that they munge the two together. No-one *wants* an OS. You just need one to use their apps. They should sell the thing on its technical merits and refine the GUI. Sadly, W8 is not about the desktop, its about getting people used to MS' mobile GUI. They shot themselves in the foot when they made it mandatory.

          What they should have done is make mobile apps run on desktop windows under TIFKAM. The mobile app makers could have sold mobile apps to desktop users. TIFKAM could slide in from the side like traditional *nix multiple desktops & Apple full-screen apps.

          Now MS are in a marketing nightmare. W8 looks like a failure. If W8 was W7+powershell+architecture changes, no-one would really care, they would still buy it if they needed it. Apple got the marketing right. All releases are minor versions of version 10. All versions are recognisable as OSX. Yes they gush about "magical" and "revolutionary", but if you liked OSX before you'll still like the new version - it isn't that different. No-one really cares if you're still on Snow Leopard.

          I'd have been far more impressed and likely to buy a new version of Windows if it had a new security model for applications. Make the "File" menu part of the OS. Writing files outside of the application's $app/conf or $app/data location (as defined in the installation manifest) is prohibited and can only be initiated via the (OS-provided) File menu, by a GUI user. Does an application want to create a network socket? Get a kerberos ticket authorising it first. The PDF viewer does not need network access. Neither does Word or Excel. If there is no kerberos ticket, flag up a warning to the user about what's going on. Provide an option for geo-location lookup from MS. The File menu can include network protocols (SMB, HTTP/S, S/FTP, SSH) but in that case the OS is handling the request, and can provide an audit log of the URLs requested.

          Those would be features worth paying for. They don't have to be compulsory, MS could give priority in its store or co-marketing funds to apps which conform.

      2. Arctic fox

        @wolfetone RE."....Windows 10 isn't getting rid of the Metro/Tile........."

        I'm running the Win10 beta on a laptop. It looks like a desktop based pc and behaves like a desktop pc "right out of the box" including a traditional start-menu from which you can, if your little heart desires, remove all indications that tiles even exist and clicking on "All Apps" gives you the traditional vertically scrollable list. Win10 is a very different baby from Win8. It will only show the Metro UI Modern UI if you want it to. Right-click taskbar/properties/start-menu and then check or uncheck "Use the Start menu instead of the Start screen". It is as simple as that. If you install on a PC it will default to desktop mode. If, and when, it is installed on tablets it will default to tablet mode - which you can reverse by the process described above in the event you wish to dock it and use it in desk-top mode with a full sized external screen. In other words you not forced to use the OS in a mode you do not want.

        1. picturethis

          Re: @wolfetone RE."....Windows 10 isn't getting rid of the Metro/Tile........."

          Have an upvote.

          Everyday I have to switch between Win 7 and Win 8.1 and since the Win 10 Tech Preview came out, add that to the list.

          Win 10's UI isn't bad... even without touch. After installing Win 10, I immediately had no problem navigating the menu and finding most stuff very quickly, unlike the 8.1 abortion.

          ASSUMING (and this is a BIG assumption) that MS doesn't screw the UI up from this point (by making "improvements" in the user experience), Windows 10 might be an acceptable change from Windows 7.

          I've only run into 1 bug in Win 10 and that's the task bar sometimes doesn't display when I move the cursore to the bottom (sometimes takes a couple of times), but that may be related to the fact that I'm running it in a VM... This version of Win 10 is "usable" for the most part.

          I think it would be in Microsoft's best interest to offer completely free upgrades from Win 8.1 to 10 when it is released and put 8.1 as far out of people's minds as possible. We'll see....

    3. Dave Horn

      Re: Support is impossible

      This is why IT professionals should stay well clear of offering technical advice to friends and family.

      Just because you can't wrap your head around Windows 8.1 doesn't mean your Grandad will struggle with it. Set it up with all the tiles they need on the main screen, for a 70 year old, and they need never go near a Start Menu again.

      Windows 8 is only an issue if you're constantly swapping between XP / 7 / 8 / 8.1. But Microsoft are damned if they do and damned if they don't when it comes to consistency. IMHO the 8.1 haters have simply never used it and are parroting the popular press. Which, in some respects, is a bit embarrassing if your job involves computers.

      1. Bob Vistakin

        Re: Support is impossible

        @Dave steady on now. Even his colleagues from the Church group etc are all on Win 7. Should they ditch theirs too? You know how long it takes for them to get used to it?

      2. Jim 59

        Re: Support is impossible

        Well said Dave Horn and have an upvote. It is strange though, when you look at, how many operating systems have been blighted in recent years by the imposition of an unpopular UI/menu system.

        Perhaps the desktop UI problem was solved many years ago, and developers ought to apply their talents to real 2015 challenges like storage, backup, security, networking, rather than trying to fix the menu system - something that was essentially fixed in 1995.

        It is ironic that Apple, who actually invented the smartphone, is the only PC manufacturer who does *not* try to make their desktop look like a big smartphone. KDE, Gnome3, Unity, Win8: please take note...

        1. dogged

          @Jim 59

          > It is ironic that Apple, who actually invented the smartphone

          either you forgot your troll icon or you're an idiot.

        2. Bob Vistakin

          Re: Support is impossible

          @Jim 59 And so it begins.

          Apple invented the smartphone.

          Microsoft invented the computer.

          Google invented the internet.

          And we all lived happily ever after in whatever la la land we're told to.

          1. dogged

            Re: Support is impossible

            Don't make me upvote you, Bob. That's just unfair.

          2. Jim 59

            Re: Support is impossible

            Yawn. I thought the readership was clever enough not to need this clarified. However...

            @dogged In saying "Apple invented the smartphone", I actually meant "Apple invented the UI/UX that is used (or copied) on virtually all smartphones today". This should have been obvious from the context. That is, Apple were the first to market the look and feel that has come to dominate and define the smartphone market.

            1. dogged

              Re: Support is impossible

              what, the Windows 3.1 Program Manager?

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Support is impossible

              "Apple invented the UI/UX "

              Apple designed the UI/UX

      3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: Support is impossible

        spot on.

        Circa 2009, I was having more than enough problems with my own Windows Laptop to be half arsed to do family support.

        So I switched to a Macbook Pro.

        Now I could tell those relatives, 'sorry, don't use windows anymore'.

        1. David Lawton

          Re: Support is impossible

          When ever i get asked at by work or family my reply has been for the last 3 years 'get a Mac' or if they only browse the web 'get an iPad' , because i am getting so pee'd off removing malware off Windows or fixing Windows after its done something weird, it needs contestant baby sitting if non tech people are using it. I was having no weekends to my self. At least for the time being OS X is mainly malware/nasty free and does not screw up all the time or at least asks for your password to put malware on the computer. They have listened to the 1 thing i told them, which was 'if it asks for your password and you are not wanting to install a program or change a setting don't enter it'. So far its working, after the initial how do i do.... questions when they first move to Mac i don't have to visit to fix things anymore, I'm happy, they are happy, happy days.

          1. Maventi

            Re: Support is impossible

            @David Lawton: Couldn't agree more. Those who ignore it and buy some bargain basement Windows laptop instead end up complaining about how slow/infested it is a year later, almost every time. And it still happens to this day sadly.

            1. Col_Panek

              Re: Support is impossible

              Not me. My 4 year old cheep HP laptop is still running fine, no slowdowns.

              Well, of course my first act was installing Mint 11 on it (now up to 17.1, and nicer than ever).

          2. Dave Lawton

            Re: Support is impossible

            Just before anyone gets confused, no, the above isn't me, I recommend Mint, Kubuntu(LTS), OpenSUSE, and if you must, Win 7 Pro 64.

      4. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Support is impossible @Dave Horn

        Set it up with all the tiles they need on the main screen

        Have you found a quick way to clear the 'junk' tiles and so present a clear main screen?

        With previous versions of Windows (particularly XP) it was very quick and easy to give a user a totally clear mainscreen and then populate it with only those icons/tiles they actually needed to use.

        1. Glenturret Single Malt

          Re: Support is impossible @Dave Horn

          Right click on unwanted tile. Select "unpin from start".

      5. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: Support is impossible

        "IMHO the 8.1 haters have simply never used it and are parroting the popular press"

        Well, Dave Horn, you're wrong on the internet.

        Cheers, from a member of the unpopular press.

      6. kiwimuso

        Re: Support is impossible

        @ Dave Horn

        Sod off with the "70 year old" bit.

        Some of us have been playing with computers longer than you have so don't be so fucking patronising.

        There are some pretty pathetic 20 year-old out there as well, you know.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Support is impossible

      You could ... you know learn to use it....

      It's really not 'ruined' by Windows 8. It's actually quite usable if you get used to it.

    5. Rabbit80

      Re: Support is impossible

      Just put classic shell on it ( then ignore the fact it is running 8(.1)

    6. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Support is impossible

      ... us poor IT admins for friends and family. I had someone this Christmas asking what laptop to buy from PC World - a good family friend in his 70's. I told him to try to get a Win 7 one

      Obviously not visited PC World et al in a while, Win 7 machines haven't been available from high street retailers for several years now...

      ruined by Win 8

      Well suggest you firstly double check that it was actually supplied with 8.1 and wasn't a bargain bucket end-of-line 8 system - which will need to be nursed through the 5+ GB series of updates to a fully patched 8.1 system.

      I would firstly install ClassicShell, although you have to undergo a crash course in Win8 UI basics to achieve this (but tutorials are now available), but once done your life will become much easier, since many admin things will now be accessible in a way you are familiar with. This will enable you to more easily get to grips with updates, installing printers, etc....

      Then I would create two accounts, one for you with all the admin stuff on display etc. and one for for friend which can be stripped down to how he wants it to be (including not running classicshell).

      About the only real thing to remember with Win8, is many companies (eg. printer vendors) produce one distribution for pre-Win8 OS's and another for Win8.

      Yes, I don't like the Win8 UI/UX, but with a little patience you'll find your knowledge of previous versions isn't totally redundant. However, it pains me to find good stuff in 8.1 that is effectively obscured by the poor UI/UX...

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Support is impossible

      Simple answer, rescue an unwanted ex corporate XP laptop that is scheduled for scrap and put ubuntu or mint on it. Give it to them as a present (preferably before they buy anything)

    8. Archaon

      Re: Support is impossible

      Sorry but no. Of course things like this will vary by machine but generally speaking Windows 8 is faster than 7 which in turn is faster than Vista. Aside from the odd clunky animation due to ancient low end onboard graphics 8 works well on machines that are 5 years old - and we're talking Pentium laptops not Core 2 Quads or Xeons.

      If you're going to hate on 8 then by all means do so but stick to the usual moaning about tiles rather than performance.

      As for support once you get past the tiles it really is the same for 95% of things you'll ever need to do...if you can do it on 7 then the same task typically isn't rocket science on 8. And worst case that's what Google is for.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Versions maybe?

    Win 8 numbers?

  6. Anonymous Coward

    I just goes to show...

    ...that these stats are just a waste of time really.

  7. Jim 59

    Go XP!

    Windows XP is reputedly still most prevalent in Asia.

    It's the Peugeot 504 of operating systems. In a good way.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Data Validity

    Considering a non-trivial fraction of web access traffic comes from various bots, and that most bots of the malicious kind identify themselves as some kind of Windows machine (usually an ancient one because nobody seems to bother updating the strings very often), are these stats even remotely indicative of what is actually going on?

    Maybe I'm wrong here, but that's just my own perception from looking at web logs on my own servers. About half of the web traffic that hits my many servers is from various different bots, including malicious ones that try to brute force people's passwords on forums, look for installations of phpmyadmin, and other activities similarly indicative of bad intentions.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Data Validity

      Maybe I'm wrong here, but that's just my own perception from looking at web logs on my own servers.

      These services generally use JS code to get the stats which excludes a lot of bots: http logs commonly contain 4 - 10 times as many requests as those reported by JS.


    ClassicShell for the win, to be fair Windows 8.1 isnt all that bad, I have it rolled out on a strong 1000 seat network, across many sites. Slam ClassicShell into the OS and it works just like Windows 7, but seems much faster.

  10. GreenPaperclip

    Desktops are becoming a niche product

    Assuming there isn't an amazing new XP desktop in December that lots of people and businesses are buying, there can only be one reason for such market share growth: users are leaving the desktop market in droves for mobiles and maybe some tablets.

    Remember that the data shows market share, not number of users. Higher market share doesn't imply more users.

    I think you can probably ignore the Christmas factor - looking at the data the last Christmas had no material impact on market share in December 2013. Perhaps this is really showing that the desktop market is in freefall in December as more and more users leave desktops for web browsing on their mobiles?

    Question is, will netmarketshare share the absolute numbers of users in the desktop market?

    PS: I assume the OS market share figures are derived from those desktop users who browse the web, (which is a more consumer orientated view as this would exclude a lot of business desktop use)

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Desktops are becoming a niche product

      "there can only be one reason for such market share growth"

      Or ... the numbers just aren't that accurate.

  11. sharkyblunt

    Windows XP - tip of the (non-websurfing) iceberg

    Presumably these stats way under-call the amount of XP workstations out there too. I went for a hospital appointment recently and saw XP terminals all over the placfe, which presumably don't surf the web and therefore don't show up in these stats, The same goes for the number of XP based EPOS terminals and even cash points you still see around the place.

    1. Andy Non Silver badge

      Re: Windows XP - tip of the (non-websurfing) iceberg

      I noticed the same thing in my local hospital. Lots of XP computers hooked up to medical equipment.

      I also still have and use an old XP computer but it goes nowhere near the internet. It is too old to upgrade or mess with and does what I need... if it ain't broke don't fix it.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Windows XP - tip of the (non-websurfing) iceberg

        I also still have and use an old XP computer but it goes nowhere near the internet. It is too old to upgrade or mess with and does what I need... if it ain't broke don't fix it.

        I currently use a couple of older XP systems for the children to use on the Internet! a nice thing being is that the lock down tools are mature (as is my ability to admin these systems) and re-imaging the disk is so much easier than with Win7 or 8...

        1. Col_Panek

          Re: Windows XP - tip of the (non-websurfing) iceberg

          My granddaughters run Bodhi Linux on an old XP machine. Safe and quick.

  12. Ketlan


    'I noticed the same thing in my local hospital. Lots of XP computers hooked up to medical equipment.'

    So did I during a long stay at my local infirmary but three out of four items weren't working, these worst affected being those most commonly used.

  13. Jess

    It could be that Christmas caused a lot of people who now use their phones or tablets most of the time to turn on the old XP machines they have saved for when they need a computer.

  14. Big Ed

    And I Love Driving Stick Shift Too...

    MS needs to behave more like the auto industry. They have platforms that they build cars and trucks off of. On top of the platform they build sexy, sleek, fast, economical, and funtional. MS OS guts are the platform that gives phone, tab, desktop, and server. MS should seperate the UI from the platform and run seperate code branches to let people and orgs choose their own sexy, sleek, ... And for that matter, let 3rd parties build custom Shelbys and Taxi cabs. At my age, I love my stodgy old XP UI; it aint sexy, but it sure is fast, funtional, and economical.

    1. Col_Panek

      Re: And I Love Driving Stick Shift Too...

      And by "MS", you meant Linux, right?

  15. David McCarthy

    My New Year Windows XP Prediction

    Okay, so most people have a resolution about this time, but I'm going to put this prediction in my calender (Outlook, of course!) and check each January:

    "Windows XP will outlive Microsoft."

    Pick the bones out of that, Satya.

  16. DLKirkwood

    Why this PC user switched to MAC

    The majority of Win 7 and 8 users hate it (or else it is one of the first systems they had) and prefer

    the XP OS; why? Because XP finally got all the patches it needed to be a dependable system, and 7 - present is a failed attempt for PC's to work like MAC's - except they still can't figure how to keep their systems protected against hacking and viruses.

    I stated out with Win 95 and when up from there in a relatively short peroiod of time 1996 − 2016 history:

    Several PC's and Windows 95, 98, 2000, ME (which I worked well fo rme and I liked but MS killed it after 6 months), then XP for a couple years. All except ME had multiple fixes and patches, and needed antivirus software every year to keep them working, as you typed with your fingers crossed.

    Finally bit the bullet and said NO MORE. Switched to a Mac Pro model 2007 and I have only needed to increase RAM (less than $100 US) because I did it myself. MACS only SEEM more expensive. But the investment of the cost for quality, and getting the couple programs I needed for my work (Word for MAC, ADOBE PROFESSIONAL PDF, and Photoshop) still is not as much as I speant for multiple computers and anti-virus software (and time spent in repair parts, etc) - and the MAC is still going strong.

    And from what I hear the new systems even do well with those who like gaming, and such. Still, I would buy one more PC laptop IF I could find one that was built compatibly for the XP OS I still have so that I could install the two software packages I have for PC: Coral Draw Suite, and PC Study Bible Reference Library that I paid close to $800.00 +/- at the time.

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