In 96 days after this writing, Microsoft will end all support for Windows XP. The company has made the April 8 deadline abundantly clear, and it seems people are getting the message. The latest figures from Net Applications show a big drop in XP use.
In the latest statistics on worldwide operating system use , Windows XP’s share has dropped to 28.9%. That’s a 10-percentage point drop since February of 2013. It’s dropped 10% from November alone. There's a similar story over on StatCounter, which has Windows XP below the 20% line, dropping nearly 7 percentage points for the year.
Getting an accurate picture of Windows 8 is a little tricky. As I've said in the past, Net Applications tracks use, not sales or deployments. Its numbers for Windows 8 over the course of 2013 show it actually losing share. It peaked in September with 8% share and has now backslid to 6.9% share. How does that happen? There are too many variables to make a definitive statement. StatCounter is much better for the new OS, putting Windows 8 at 8.13% for the year, up from 2.6% at the beginning of 2013.
As usual, the most encouraging numbers are with Steam Analytics, as measured by game developer Valve. This is a measure of PCs running the Steam software, which operates like iTunes but for PC game sales. So it tilts entirely in favor of consumers and the U.S., not worldwide. All that said, it puts the Windows 8 and 8.1 installed base at a total of 19.2%. XP is down at just 6%.
So what do the numbers all mean? XP is indeed dying out worldwide. Steam has had XP at around 6% for the better part of the year, so the decline seen by Net Applications and StatCounter is coming from global users, because America has already made the move. Those remaining 6% of PCs in the U.S. just won't move and will likely be used until they die.
Unless we see the equivalent of a dam bursting in the next three months, expect the global XP installed base to hover around 20% when Microsoft pulls the plug. Mind you, these are machines connected to the Internet and encountering the sensors deployed by Net Applications and StatCounter.
That doesn't include the countless PCs that are unnetworked or rarely connected to the net, such as those found in medical offices or point-of-sale systems. Just three years ago I was at a local Toyota dealership and saw their information kiosks and terminals used by the service staff were running Windows 2000. That's just one of many examples of outdated software you'll find out there.
I'll be back soon to tell you why waiting is the absolute worst thing you can do, beyond the merely obvious.