According to Net Applications and to the surprise of many experts, the market share of Windows 8.1 rose by a whopping 4.25 percent in just one month. For me, this shows that patience and persistence are needed if you want to replace an established technology.
Latest posts by Michael Pietroforte (see all)

Considering that, in previous months, Windows 8.x even lost market share to Windows 7, this is an interesting development. It is true that the gain of Windows 8.1 is at the expense of Windows XP market share losses. However, since Windows 7 only grew moderately, it is fair to say that the majority of Windows customers now understand that Windows 8.1 is currently the best Windows version on the market.

Many news sites claim that Windows 8.1 growth was caused by users who moved from Windows XP to Windows 8.1. In my view, this interpretation can’t be justified by the data. You would get the same market shares if all those new Windows 8.1 machines were former Windows 7 computers if you assume that the corresponding number of Windows XP machines have been updated to Windows 7. Of course, Windows 7 still the most dominating desktop operating system.

Windows versions market shares according to Net Applications

Market shares of Windows versions according to Net Applications

Nevertheless, what counts is that the Windows 8.x market share is now growing rapidly. This shows me that customers are getting used to the new UI. Man is a creature of habit. If you want to replace one habit with another, no matter how superior the new habit is, you need patience and persistence.

In the past, these were fundamental traits of the Redmond software giant. I have no statistical data, but I am pretty sure that a scientific analysis of Microsoft’s product introductions would reveal that the first version almost always fails. Windows Vista and Windows 8 are only the most prominent examples. Microsoft’s strength has been to not let itself be intimidated by those failures and, instead, persistently improve the product until customers finally accept it.

Whereas many believe that improvements are the main reason for the eventual success of a previous failure, in my view, in most cases it just took some time until customers got used to the new concepts. Windows Vista is the best example. Windows 7 essentially is Windows Vista a few years later. The changes that Microsoft introduced in Windows 7 are almost negligible. I think Joe Belfiore (corporate Vice President, Operating Systems Group at Microsoft) is right when he says that the main problem about Windows 8 was that the ecosystem just needs some time to adapt to a new OS.

Another trend I find interesting is that the growth in tablet shipments is slowing down. A growth of 11.5 percent is still a lot. However, considering the fact that tablet sales will represent less than 10 percent of all devices in 2014 and PC shipments grow as well, it is safe to say that all this babbling about the post-PC age was hopelessly exaggerated. Obviously, many tablet users found out, in the meantime, that a tablet can’t replace a PC.

In way, we can now say that a post-iPad page has been rung in. It is not just that the iPad and the iPhone are constantly losing market share to Android which has now arrived at 12.3%. (My guess is that the iOS market share will drop below 10 percent during the holiday season.) What I find interesting is that, according to a new study by J.D. Power, Apple lost the first rank in tablet customer satisfaction to Amazon. The value of the Apple brand still depends very much on the innovations of the Jobs era.

The Jobs successor, Tim Cook, is doing exactly what Jobs had been criticizing about the PC industry. New devices are just faster and bigger. Even worse is that Apple has now started copying Samsung by releasing an iPhone that looks a lot like the Note 3. That Tim Cook is proud to be gay is very "interesting." However, for Apple, it would be much better if its CEO could be proud to drive innovation in the computer industry.

What does this all mean for Windows? There is no such thing as a post-PC age, and Microsoft can stop worrying that Windows will become obsolete. The strong growth of Windows 8.1 underpins this. As long as Google sticks to Chrome OS and doesn’t aggressively push Android on the PC, Windows is not in danger.

However, if Microsoft wants to reach a market share in the tablet market that is worth mentioning, the company should not let itself be intimidated by complaints from users who refuse to give up old habits. If Microsoft keeps pushing the modern UI, customers will eventually get used to it. “Sow an act, and you reap a habit” (Samuel Smiles). Redmond just has to be patient enough and not trample over the tiny but rapidly growing Windows 8 plant with a Windows 10 that looks very much like the withered Windows 95.

12 Comments
  1. CC 7 years ago

    Tim Cook's sexual orientation has nothing to do with Microsoft's Windows 8.1 marketshare. Bringing up irrelevant information is at best a distraction from your point and may end up in you being accused of bias. Reconsider whether making that point was the correct choice.

  2. CC, I considered your point and came to the conclusion that I made the right choice. I don’t mind much of being accused of anything. What matters if it is true or not. I actually do think that there is a connection between the success of Windows 8 and Cook’s statement.

    The fact that he thinks it is worth the time to influence people who are behind the times, shows me that he is not focused and that he lacks distinction. His sexual orientation is totally unimportant. It is as interesting as his shoe size. The fact that he does not recognize this and that he has time for such boring topics, confirms that he doesn’t have the size to lead Apple. He is leading one of the most important technology companies. Technology and innovation should be his (public) topic and nothing else.

    His company is now in a very dangerous position. Only a genius and fanatic like Steve Jobs was able to bring Microsoft in trouble with Apple’s business model. Cook is not a fanatic and he is far from being a genius. This statement is another proof that he is just an average, even boring person. This is one of the reasons why Microsoft is gaining ground. They now have all the time to adapt Windows to a new technological environment. There is no need to get nervous and worry about the complaints of customers because one of their most important competitors is no longer a real danger.

  3. Lorenz 7 years ago

    "This shows me that customers are getting used to the new UI" ... May be they cannot choose anymore other Windows version.

  4. Lorenz, they can still choose Windows 7 and many are doing it.

  5. Prince Cassius 7 years ago

    Michael,

    I agree with your comments on Apple. Sexual orientation has nothing to do with technological vision. On the other hand, I don't know if that has anything to do with why Windows is gaining share.

    As a technology integrator, I think Microsoft is on the right path to correcting the UI shortcomings of 8.x. Not only are enthusiast getting board with Windows 7, I sell the fact that Window 7 is archaic compared to Windows 8.1. Windows in the works (10) will be a better OS as long as MSFT continues to listen to its user base.

    Interesting article.

    Thanks,
    Prince

  6. Prince, thanks! As I've said in the comment above, one reason why Windows 8 is gaining share is because Apple no longer innovates. Apples needs a CEO who is 100% focused on his job and has only one topic in his life and this technological innovation. Not his sexual orientation is the problem. The problem is that he worries about it. Tim Cook and Steve Ballmer have in common that they are not technology addicts. In my view, a CEO who is leading technology company has to wake up in the morning with an innovative idea and when he goes to bed at night, he can't sleep because this idea is still bothering him. There's really nothing in between. There is no time for worrying about other things.

    I agree that Windows 7 is an archaic OS. What I dislike about Windows 10 that it looks more like Windows 7 than Windows 8.

  7. Tim 7 years ago

    This is from http://www.neowin.net/news/microsoft-has-stopped-sales-of-some-versions-of-windows-7-and-windows-8

    "As of October 31st, Windows 7 Home Basic, Home Premium, and Ultimate will no longer be available for purchase, directly from a retailer. Also the aforementioned OS's will not be pre-installed on any computers that are being sold through OEM's. Windows 7 Professional and 8 will also no longer be available for retail purchase, but these OS's will still be able to be found on PC's being sold by OEM's.

    This move should definitely start tipping the scales when it comes to Windows 8 and 8.1 adoption. Last we checked, Windows 7 was still dominating with 52.71% of the market share. With a 2015 release set for Windows 10, it'll be interesting to see how much market share Windows 8 / 8.1 will be able to gain in such a short amount of time."

    Like you, I have no statistical data, but it would seem to me that retailers and resellers have been gearing up for the discontinuation by releasing fewer and fewer models with Windows 7. It has been more and more difficult for your average retail customer to get Windows 7, and will continue to become less available. This accounts, as predicted by the Neowin article, that there would be a big jump in acceptance of windows 8. In the end, If I make it easier to purchase product B, and harder to purchase product A, it stands to reason that more product B will see a surge in "acceptance". It's accepted like a kid accepts castor oil. Not a lot of choice.

    The difference between what Apple did when Steve Jobs told people what it is they wanted and what Microsoft does when it tells people what they want is that people actually looked at the Apple products and said "Cool, I really DO want this." People look at Windows and say "this sucks, but what else can I do? Apple costs 2.5 times more, and all my applications and work only with Windows."

  8. Tim, no offense, but I think you are confusing cause and effect. Retailers sell what people want. If there was a high demand for Windows 7, they would push Microsoft accordingly as they did with Windows XP and Vista. The truth is, I didn't see a new PC with pre-installed Windows 7 for ages.

    I agree that Jobs didn't listen to customers and just told them what they want. I like this attitude. Microsoft needs more of this boldness.

    It is also true that people believe that Apple products are cool. I think to a large part this is related to the design and to the brand that Jobs created with his genius and his guru-talents. I think at the moment it has little to do with the superiority of Apple products.

    I think the main reason why people buy Windows is because they are much are more productive with it than with Apple products and because of this huge ecosystem that Microsoft created. Don't you think that this enormous open ecosystem is absolutely super cool?

  9. assist 7 years ago

    Remember, people (at least the biggest part of home users) don't buy Windows, they buy PCs with Windows pre-installed. They have freedom of choice over many specs, brand, looks and prices but they cannot choose the OS, they just go along with what they find inside. Actually, most of everyday home users don't even know what an OS is, how many there are, how different they are. They don't really CHOOSE Windows, they think they have no choice, they don't even know OS is something you can choose. "huge ecosystem that Microsoft created"? funny way of calling it. "OPEN ecosystem"? C'mon...

  10. assist, this is a very old theory. It is also a very wrong theory. Some vendors tried other operating system such as Linux. It never worked. The reason why people can't choose is because there is no other competitive PC OS. If there was a better PC OS than Windows, hardware vendors would pre-install it. Of course the main reason why Windows is the best PC OS has little to do with the OS itself. It is the ecosystem that Microsoft created that matters. No other company was able to do this so far. Google could do it. But it seems they are not interested.

  11. assist 7 years ago

    Yes, this is a very good fairytale. Reality is different. It's nearly 2015: WHEN Windows will change filesystem, drop DLLs, drop Registry and so on, THEN we will talk about being competitive. For now, Micorsoft's first concern seems to be the User Iterface, and the reason is that they're struggling to enter the mobile market. That's the main reason they finally decided to work on the kernel too... after how many years? I'm sorry, I used many OS (almost everything that exists) for over 15 years by now and I can tell: Windows is NOT the best and the most competitive OS, that's just propaganda.

  12. Dell 7 years ago

    Again this MVP is deluded, the market share increased due to people buying new pc's laptops or whatever that had windows 8 installed, I have numerous colleagues and friends contacting me when the could not use their new machines. And Michale you are wrong about choice, I tried to buy an new personal laptop in 2013 with Windows 7, no one I tried had it, all came with with windows 8 for personal users, I found out later that If I said I was a business user I could then get Windows 7.
    I had to buy an old refurbished laptop to get Win7.

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