Desktop Operating System Popularity

Matt Gunn, Managing Editor | TechComply

Windows 7 is the most popular operating system on desktop computers, but Windows XP is still very popular. Lagging behind (but still apparently growing its install base) is the newer Windows 8, according to a new report from NetApplications.

The last generation of Microsoft’s operating system — Windows 7 — is installed on a little more than 46 percent of machines, based on web browser activity. Tech blog Engadget points out┬áthat Windows 7 only just overtook XP in September. Windows 8 only accounts for about 8% of activity monitored by the NetApplications report.

Why is this significant, you ask?

Well, for one, Windows XP is old. How old? A full 12 years old. A number, I might add, that qualifies as downright ancient in technology terms. The Internet was still new to most households, laptops weighed in the neighborhood of 18 lbs. and AOL still ruled the world of dial-up Internet service providers. By comparison, most of today’s smartphones and tablets have more processing power than desktop PCs back then. The world has changed. And so, too, has Microsoft.

On April 8, 2014, Microsoft will cease its support for the Windows XP operating system. And along with that, a lot of technology providers will likely stop supporting their applications on machines running the old OS.

If NetApplications’ data is accurate, that translates to a whole lot of machines out there that will need to be replaced or upgraded at some point. At least if their owners still want the protection and support offered by Microsoft and the many vendors who build software for Windows machines. Of course, keep in mind those are global numbers. In the world of financial institutions, we’ve seen some progress in operating system upgrades. However, based on data collected by Safe Systems several months ago, up to one-third of the machines running in banks and credit unions still have XP.

Eight months to go. If you’re on Windows XP, now might be a good time to start upgrading.

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