What happens when you stop giving away an OS for free in a weak PC market? Growth flattens.
New data from NetMarketShare, from the analytics firm Net Applications, shows no growth in use for Windows 10 between August and October, the period after Microsoft ended its free offer for the operating system. In Q3, Gartner reported a 5.7 percent decline in PC sales vs. the same period the year before. So, with no giveaway and poor PC sales, this is hardly a surprise.
+ Also on Network World: Microsoft confirms Windows 10 adoption slowdown +
It has to be remembered that Net Applications measures usage and not actual market share. It has sensors all over the internet that detect the OS and browser of users it encounters. So, if a lot of people using Windows XP machines are active while Windows 10 machines are not, it looks like XP is doing better.
According to NetMarketShare, Windows 7 led last month with 48.38 percent usage, while Windows 10 was far behind at 22.59 percent. The prior month, Windows 10 was 22.53 percent and before that 22.99 percent. Basically it hasn't moved in three months. Microsoft ended its free offer for Windows 10 on August 29.
Windows 8.1 comes in third with 8.40 percent, followed by Windows XP and Mac OS X 10.11 with 8.27 percent and 2.74 percent, respectively.
Even Steam analytics, which measures the consumer installed base, posted relatively anemic growth but it says Windows 10 isdoing far better. It put Windows 10 at 47.98 percent vs. 28.66 percent for Windows 7 machines. After that, everything is in single digits.
Steam's metrics are completely different from Net Applications. Whereas Net Applications measures systems that are visiting websites with its sensors installed, Steam is an application that is installed on your PC and functions like iTunes for PC games. So, it's actually measuring the number of installed systems and not usage. The thing is, it's on gamer PCs, not business/work PCs (you would imagine) and only in the U.S.
Edge’s slow growth
Things are no better for Edge, Microsoft's revamped browser that was meant to replace Internet Explorer 11. Chrome now sits on 55 percent share, according to NetMarketShare, compared to 23.1 percent for IE, 11.1 percent for Firefox and a paltry 5.26 percent for Edge. Since December 2015, Edge has grown from 2.8 percent to 5.26 percent, so it is hardly setting the world on fire.
I used to think that it's not terribly surprising because once people get locked into a browser, they tend to stay. But the IE and Chrome trend lines belie that. IE has plunged from 48.3 percent share in December 2015 to just 23.1 percent now, while Chrome has gone from 32.3 percent to 55 percent in the same time period.
So, people are switching to Chrome in large numbers. They sure aren't going to Firefox. It's been steadily shedding share, which is a shame because Firefox is the only browser that does vertical tabs right. Google never could get it right in Chrome and eventually gave up. And once you get used to vertical tab stacking, you never want to go back to the old way.