Microsoft's Windows XP has slipped under the 50% share mark for the first time since web measurement company Net Applications began tracking operating system usage.
The decade-old XP closed July with 49.8%, a 1.3 percentage point drop from June, Net Applications said today. Although XP still powers a majority of Windows machines, July's decline means it has lost its majority status among all operating systems.
Other metrics firms marked an earlier fall for XP. StatCounter, for instance, said that the OS slipped under 50% last January. Net Applications claims its methodology is more accurate, as it weights by country to more accurately reflect use in countries like China, which produces relatively little measurement data, but has a huge pool of PC users.
StatCounter pegged XP's usage share at 43.9% in July.
Fall of a giant
The fall of XP has been gradual but still striking. In the last year, Windows XP's usage share as measured by Net Applications has plummeted more than 12 percentage points. Just two years ago, and several months before the launch of Windows 7, XP accounted for nearly three-out-of-four operating systems whose systems went online.
Although Microsoft did not note that XP slid below 50% last month, one would assume it is happy with the result.
The company has been putting the squeeze on Windows XP users of late, reminding them that the OS will be retired in less than three years and telling them, "It's time to move on".
The aggressive promotion of Windows 7, coupled with XP's looming retirement, seem to have hit home. In the last two months, XP's share dropped 2.6 percentage points, the biggest 60 day decline since December 2010-January 2011, when Windows 7 PCs sold briskly.
Today, Microsoft kept up the dump-XP drumbeat. Roger Capriotti, the head of marketing for Microsoft's browser, said of the even-older IE6, "With end of life for IE6 and Windows XP rapidly approaching, we expect [IE6's] drop in share to continue. It's great to see that the move of businesses off Windows XP and IE6 is helping to drive a worldwide drop in IE6 share."
Capriotti's use of the phrase "rapidly approaching" to describe XP's and IE6's retirement may be premature, as Microsoft will serve up security updates for the operating system and browser until April 2014.
7 on the up
It's clear that XP's fall has corresponded to Windows 7's climb.
According to Net Applications, Windows 7 finished July with a 27.9% global usage share, an increase of seven tenths of a percentage point over June. In the last year, Windows 7 has gained 13.4 points, more than making up for the 12 point decline of XP.
If XP continues the pace of the last three months, the OS will drop to 40% by the end of the first quarter in 2012, when Windows 7 is projected to reach 35%. The two should cross paths by the middle of next year. Projections of future usage share show Windows 7 will supplant XP as Microsoft's most used edition by mid-2012.
Net Applications calculates operating system usage share with data obtained from more than 160 million unique visitors who browse 40,000 websites that the company monitors for clients. More OS statistics can be found on the company's site.