A year after its demise, Windows XP still has more users than Windows 8 and 8.1 combined

With the upcoming anniversary of Windows XP reaching the end of its life, the OS still has more users than Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 combined.

According to NetMarketShare, Windows XP still holds a market share of 16.94% as of March 2015. In the same report it shows that Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 hold a combined market share of 14.07%. While Windows XP narrowly holds on to its pole position, its gradual decline suggests that users are finally ready to let go of the antiquated operating system.

The results above are a far cry from the numbers that we saw in a similar report in September 2014. Data for August indicated that XP still had a fairly large following at 23.89%.

We can reasonably expect that Windows 8.1, Windows 8, and Windows XP will see a heavy decline in market share when the much-anticipated Windows 10 makes its debut during the summer. Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 users for the first year.

via A year after its demise, Windows XP still has more users than Windows 8 and 8.1 combined.

Microsoft will no longer sell retail copies of Windows 8, consumer versions of Windows 7 to OEMs

As planned, Microsoft has ended retail sales of Windows 8 as well as stopped offering some versions of its Windows 7 operating system to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

This means that retailers will no longer be able to order more copies of Windows 8, which went on sale just over two years ago on 26 October 2012, although it’ll still come pre-installed on new PCs as the software giant will continue to offer it to hardware vendors such as HP, Dell, Lenovo, and more.

As for Windows 7, the Home Basic, Home Premium, and Ultimate editions of the OS have been withdrawn from sale to vendors, which means that these editions will no longer come pre-installed on new PCs. However, that might not happen any time soon, considering that manufacturers as well as retailers still have large stocks of Windows 7 PCs.

While the end of Windows 7 will definitely frustrate consumers, given the fact that it still maintains a 53 percent market share, enterprises can relax for now, as Microsoft will continue to supply Windows 7 Professional edition to OEMs. The Redmond-based company says that it will provide one year of notice prior to the end of sale date.

Another point worth noting is that enterprise customers can still downgrade to earlier versions of the OS they have licensed. “To use prior versions of Windows software on PCs installed with newer versions, it is possible for consumers to obtain a license for downgrade rights. These downgrade rights will vary depending on if the software was acquired via Volume Licensing, OEM, or FPP”, Microsoft said.

via Microsoft will no longer sell retail copies of Windows 8, consumer versions of Windows 7 to OEMs – TechSpot.

Windows 8 drops in market share, Windows 7 continues dominance

Its been almost two years since the release of Windows 8, yet Windows 7 is still dominating the Windows platform by having a commanding market share of 52.71%.

While it would seem like the market share for Windows 8.1 would be rising, it has actually fallen according to Net Marketshare. For the month of August, Windows 8.1 took a .42% dip bringing its total market share down to 6.67%. Windows 8 didn’t fair much better with a .69% dip, down from 6.28% the previous month and as a whole, Windows 8 / 8.1 is currently running on only 12.26% of machines around the world.

Windows 7 on the other hand, has risen, up 1.5% and has a dominating 52.71% market share. Perhaps what is most alarming is the amount of Windows XP users. Windows XP was officially made EOL in April, yet it still has a market share of 23.87%.

Although these statistics are alarming, Microsoft has announced its latest OS, Windows 10. This release will probably be the most important for Microsoft, designed with familiarity in mind, and will hopefully attract those on Windows 7 and XP to the latest platform.

Although a release date has not been announced, a downloadable preview is currently available. While Windows 8 / 8.1 had some unique features, it is clear that these the OS will go down as a failure in terms of the market share that it was able to grab.

via Windows 8 drops in market share, Windows 7 continues dominance – Neowin.

Windows 8.1 overtakes Windows 8 worldwide, as Windows XP ‘refuses to die’

Microsoft staff will likely be raising a glass or two, thanks to the latest available data.

According to new data released by StatCounter on Tuesday, the latest version of Windows 8.1 has overtaken its predecessor Windows 8 for the first time, in terms of internet usage worldwide.

The research firm’s data shows Windows 8.1 has grown steadily to 7.5 percent in August, passing Windows 8’s share of 6.6 percent. In the UK market the software giant’s operating system (covering desktops, tablets, and consoles) surpassed its older sibling in April, with the US following a month later in May.

By comparison, Apple’s latest versions of OS X have a combined share of 7.8 percent — a speck compared to Windows’ overall reach.

“Following a mixed reaction to Windows 8, perhaps because of its radical new look, Windows 8.1 appears to be winning over users,” StatCounter’s chief executive Aodhan Cullen said in prepared remarks.

Windows 7 remains the world’s global leader in the operating system space, data from the company suggests, with just over 50 percent of the internet usage share.

But StatCounter data should always be taken with a pinch of salt, as ZDNet’s Ed Bott previously explained. Compared to the latest Net Applications’ data, which is generally considered to be stronger overall data, Windows 8 has a 6.3 percent share, while Windows 8.1 has a 7.1 percent share — totaling 13.4 percent.

Another nugget from the research shows that Windows XP “refuses to die,” in the company’s words, standing strong in second-place behind Windows 7 with a share of 12.9 percent. That’s in spite of Microsoft ending support for the decade-old operating system earlier this year in April.

Europe holds about 10.6 percent of the share, with the UK holding about half that.

via Windows 8.1 overtakes Windows 8 worldwide, as Windows XP ‘refuses to die’ | ZDNet.

Why Microsoft needs to reveal Windows 9 sooner than later: The end of Windows 7

Several reports from usually reliable Windows watchers say Microsoft is poised to unveil Windows 9 at the end of September. The new OS will mark the return of the Start menu, the ability to run Metro apps inside desktop windows, and other PC-friendly tweaks. The timing makes ton of sense, in spite of Windows 8’s short run. Why? Because Windows 7.

Whether you love or hate Windows 8, you can’t argue that Microsoft’s Live Tile-infused operating system has been… divisive, to say the least. The changes Microsoft instituted to transform its desktop operating system into something more mobile focused were downright shocking to long-time Windows users.

While subsequent updates made Windows 8 play far nicer with traditional PCs, the damage was done. Witness the comments on any article talking about Windows 8, which quickly devolve into folks saying that you’ll pry Windows 7 from their cold, dead hands. And it’s more than just talk: Windows 7’s market share continues to climb regardless of Windows 8’s release, according to NetApplications.

But Windows 7 PCs will say buh-bye at the end of October.

Now Microsoft will continue to provide security updates for Windows 7 until 2020. You just won’t be able to buy new Windows 7 PCs anymore, unless you’re willing to plop down big bucks for a pricey business machine running Windows 7 Professional. The end-of-sales date for PCs running the consumer-focused versions of Windows 7 is October 31. And while you can still find boxed copies of Windows 7 at some online retailers, official software sales of the OS ended last October.

You see the problem: The Windows 8 name alone turns off many enthusiasts. After October 31, you won’t be able to buy a new PC without Windows 8, and there will be no hope on the horizon for desktop diehards with a grudge against the OS unless Microsoft announces a more PC-friendly Windows 9 first.

start menu windows 81

Windows 9 will include both the Start menu as well as the ability to run Metro apps on the desktop—two key features designed to woo Windows 8 haters and make the OS play nice with PCs again.

Likewise, many businesses refuse to upgrade to Windows 8, given the high training costs required to teach everyday workers to navigate the overhauled operating system. It’s in Microsoft’s best interest to introduce a version of Windows that’s more oriented towards change-averse enterprise sensibilities sooner rather than later, so that companies can begin planning their eventual migration away from Windows 7. Those migrations can take a long time.

Most leaks say Windows 9—or whatever the build currently dubbed “Windows Threshold” will eventually be called—won’t appear until spring 2015. It’ll be Windows 8 or nada (or Mac, or Linux, or Chrome OS) from the end of October until then, even if the leaked Windows 9 timelines hold true. But if Microsoft indeed reveals Windows 9 and its reborn Start menu in September, at least there will be light at the end of the tunnel.

Past reports indicate that Microsoft is taking steps in the right direction with Windows 9, and yes, we have some ideas on what we’d like to see included in Windows 9 to make it shine even more brightly. But why wait if you truly dislike Windows 8? While most big box retailers gave up on Windows 7 machines long ago, there are still ways to buy a new Windows 7 PC in the Windows 8 era—if you act quickly.

via Why Microsoft needs to reveal Windows 9 sooner than later: The end of Windows 7 | PCWorld.

Microsoft: Roughly 25,000 Win8.x Users See Blue Screens After Botched Patch

Microsoft says it’s aware of the problem, but insists it appears to be relatively rare

The second Tuesday of August — Aug. 12 — brought Microsoft Corp.’s (MSFT) monthly day of patching.  But the security patch rolled out has caused an infamous Windows crash — the dreaded blue screen of death (BSOD) — to take ahold of some Windows 8.1 PCs.

I. A Patch of Trouble

The error (known more technically as Stop 0x50) reportedly occurred for a small number of users with the following updates:

The ‘897 and ‘791 patches modify Win32k.sys/Gdi32.dll, so copying those from a working machine of the same version of Windows will negate the effects of those patches (according to Redditors).  Patch ‘228 creates a troubled temporary file called fntcache.dat — which can simply be deleted to apparently fix that part of the problem.

BSOD on Windows 8
A Blue Screen of Death on Windows 8.x [Image Source: Wikimedia Commons]

Or you can go into your system restore console with a recovery disc and try to remove the problem patches (see this Reddit thread for helpful details).  But double check — some users have reportedly only had a single erroneous reboot, while for others the problems are continuous.

Microsoft has pulled the patches responsible.  It is reportedly working on a fix and repost of these updates.

II. How Many is Not Many?

The latest wrinkle comes from a Microsoft Community thread on the issues.  Microsoft graphics team engineer/program manager Kurt Phillips writes:

We’re working as hard as we can to fix [these issues] and release that fix as quickly as possible, so stay tuned for the re-release announcement soon.Everyone else – please be aware that the reason we pulled this patch was that IF you ran into the problem specified, it’s a horrible user experience.  We made a fairly invasive change in font handling as part of a security patch and thought we had it tested properly, but there are definitely problems in our test coverage and design process that we need to address.  We definitely have lssons to learn from this and we will.

One thing to keep in perspective here – the actual numbers we get through telemetry (clearly not exhaustive, but definitely representative) are that the failures are only happening in ~0.01% of the overall population.  So, about 1 in 10000 machines are crashing. We have an obligation to fix that, and we will because we take that obligation very seriously.  If you installed and haven’t seen a Stop 0x50, there’s no guarantee you won’t see one before we fix it, but look at the odds.  I think it would irresponsible to say in the security bulletin to not uninstall due to the severity of the problem IF you hit it, but I’m not uninstalling.  You need to make your own decision on that course.

Again – sorry to put you through this.

Just wanted to clear up some hyperbole – Microsoft isn’t crumbling, all our testers weren’t fired, etc.  99.99% success is pretty good in most jobs in this world, but clearly we need to strive for higher.

Lastly, I am not the official Microsoft spokesperson on this, just an engineer on a very busy graphics team trying to fix our problem.

Microsoft’s latest Patch Tuesday has caused a lot of trouble for some users. [Image Source: WinBeta.org]

Note, he’s not an official spokesperson.  Neowin reported:

You can read his full post below but it has since been pulled from the forums for unknown reasons; likely do to the fact that he is not an authorized spokesperson.

…and Myce.com writes

The original thread has been removed but we made a screenshot in time.

…but that’s inaccurate, or no longer accurate, at least.  The post is readily available for viewing as of 8/24.

III. No, But Really, How Many Users is That?

So, assuming the numbers checked out enough that Microsoft left the post intact despite the coverage (and did not openly contradict it), how many users are affected if 0.01 percent are effected?

Well, at a Goldman Sachs (GS) conference in February, Microsoft executive Tami Reller revealed that in 15 months Windows 8 (and its free upgrade Windows 8.1) had moved 200 million licenses (100 million was hit after roughly 6 months).

As noted by The Next Web that’s 100 million less licenses than the popular Windows 7 moved in its first fie quarters (~300 million), but then again it’s 40 million more than the troubled Windows Vista moved in its first 15 months (~160 million based on Microsoft’s announced 12 and 19 month totals for Vista).

Another fun fact — according to Gartner, Inc. (IT) and the Interactive Data Corp. (IDC), PC sales in July-March were around 240 million [IDC: 13Q3, 13Q4, 14Q1 / Gartner: 13Q3, 13Q4, 14Q1], of which about 10 million were Chromebooks or Macbooks according to various sources (Apple, Inc. (AAPL) earnings, UBS AG (VTX:UBSN) analyst report).  That means less than 1 in 2 Windows licenses sold in this period were new Windows 8 licenses (like a portion of the remaining 120 million came from OEMs using unsold licenses from the original 100 million Windows 8 licenses).

Anyhow, this indicates a license sell through rate of 11.1 million licenses per month.  Given Q2 2014 sales came in at 74.4 million (IDC) and 75.8 million (Gartner) PCs (of which ~ 1.7 million were Macbooks ; 2 million were Chromebooks) in Q2 2014 — almost the same as Q1, we can assume this sales rate more or less continued.  So in March-July Microsoft likely moved between 9-13 million Windows 8 licenses a month.  That would add up to 45-65 million additional Windows 8 licenses sold in the last five months.

An ASUSTek Computer Inc. (TPE:2357) Transformer Book T100TA 10.1-inch convertible tablet is seen running Windows 8.1.

That gives us an estimate of current Windows 8.x license sales levels — 245 to 265 million units.  So 0.01 percent of Windows 8.x licenses — assuming 90 percent of licenses sold are active — is around 22,000 to 24,000 users.  We’re not saying that many users are affected by the most severe problems, but that gives you a roughly idea of how few — or how many Windows 8.x users are seeing the dreaded BSODs, according to official estimates from Microsoft.

Oct. 2013 was the decade anniversary of Microsoft’s first Patch Tuesday, a program launched two years in to the XP era to try to improve adoption rates of security patches.  As Softpedia‘s tribute piece from last October hints at, this is hardly Microsoft’s first Patch Tuesday faux pas — and definitely far from its worse.

via Daily Tech

Why the Windows 8.1 Update probably means no more Service Packs for Windows

In response to customer outcry, organizations holding off on deploying the Windows 8.1 Update will be able to get security updates for their systems for another three-and-a-half months, as opposed to the 30 days that Microsoft originally promised.

When the Windows 8.1 Update designed to improve the mouse and keyboard experience of Windows 8.1 was initially released last week, Microsoft said that it was a mandatory update. Any future security updates, starting from next month, would require the update to be installed.

This was met with a frustrated response from IT personnel. Not only did the update cause problems with Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) deployments (though this was fixed today), it was also of a sufficient scale and size that organizations that were partway through deploying Windows 8.1 don’t want to switch to the update partway through, due to the need to re-test and re-validate it.

Some comments on Microsoft’s announcement that it would be compulsory went so far as to compare it with a Service Pack. This perception is significant, because Service Packs have a well-established support policy. Generally, there is a two-year overlap during which Microsoft produces security fixes for both the current Service Pack level and the previous one. This affords plenty of time to test the update before deploying it.

But since this update is not branded a Service Pack, that policy isn’t in effect, and Microsoft instead wanted to push it aggressively. Extending the support window to 120 days (instead of 30 days) should provide a little respite to those administrators that were unhappy with the forced update, while still forcing a much more rapid deployment than would be the case with an actual Service Pack.

However, we’d expect this kind of thing to become the norm in the future. We know that Microsoft intends to release future Windows 8.x updates, such as the one that will introduce a hybrid Start menu/Start screen. We believe that this likely heralds a faster-paced approach to operating system updates in general, as Microsoft strives to keep up with Android, iOS, OS X, and even Chrome OS, which all deliver new end-user functionality on a much more regular cadence than Microsoft has traditionally managed.

Giving each of these smaller but semi-regular updates the Service Pack life cycle would create enormous overheads for Microsoft. Overheads that competing platforms don’t really have to suffer. Faced with competing pressures to deliver features quickly, provide support, and keep development manageable, something has to give. Ditching Service Packs, with their support commitments, is probably the least painful way to go. Windows 8.1 is, from a support perspective, equivalent to a Service Pack (Microsoft lists it as the “latest update” to Windows 8), but going forward we’d expect even this kind of update to disappear, replaced by a series of smaller, mandatory upgrades.

via Why the Windows 8.1 Update probably means no more Service Packs for Windows | Ars Technica.

Mozilla kills Firefox browser for Windows 8 Metro

Shipping a final version of the Mozilla Firefox browser for the Windows 8 “Metro” environment “would be a mistake,” according to a Mozilla vice president, because of the relatively minuscule number of users on the platform.

In fact, Mozilla has never seen more than 1,000 users pre-testing the beta version of Mozilla, said Johnathan Nightingale, the vice president of Firefox, in a blog post on Friday. But on any given day, millions of of people test pre-release versions of Firefox on other platforms, he added.

“Mozilla builds software to make the world better, but we have to pick our battles,” Nightingale wrote. “We’re not as tiny as we were when we shipped Firefox 1.0, but we still need to focus on the projects with the most impact for our mission; the massive scale of our competitors and of the work to be done requires us to marshal our forces appropriately.”

Mozilla launched its Metro effort in 2012, Nightingale said, and the team “broke through” Microsoft’s controls and began developing Firefox for x86-based versions of the platform. Mozilla never developed a version of Firefox for Windows RT using ARM chips, after the company complained in 2012 that Microsoft was locking Windows users to its own browser.

It’s unclear how many users opt for the Metro version of Microsoft’s own Internet Explorer versus the version designed for its desktop mode; Microsoft has never broken the two numbers out. When Net Applications said Internet Explorer commanded 48.37 percent of the desktop browser market for February, for example, the company did not differentiate between the two versions. But, combined, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 commanded just 10.68 percent or so of the entire PC market.

A Microsoft representative was not immediately available for comment.

If Mozilla did ship a Metro version of Firefox, it would be without the requisite amount of bug testing and subsequent fixes, leaving users to find and report bugs on a “finished” product. “To ship it without doing that follow up work is not an option,” Nightingale wrote.

“This opens up the risk that Metro might take off tomorrow and we’d have to scramble to catch back up, but that’s a better risk for us to take than the real costs of investment in a platform our users have shown little sign of adopting,” Nightingale concluded.

via Mozilla kills Firefox browser for Windows 8 Metro | PCWorld.

IE’s Flash made Windows 8 most vulnerable Windows OS, research says

According to a new research from the Denmark-based security company Secunia, out of all the Windows operating systems currently supported by Microsoft, Windows 8 is the most vulnerable. Dubbed Secunia Vulnerability Review 2014, the research says that while Windows 7 and Windows XP vulnerabilities doubled in 2013, it was Windows 8 which reported the highest number of flaws.

So, despite of being touted as more secure than its predecessors, why is Windows 8 at the top of the vulnerability chart? Well, the reason is Flash — at least this is what the security firm says in its report. Out of 156 flaws reported in Windows 8, 55 were due to the integration of Adobe System’s Flash Player into IE.

Although Adobe’s Flash is widely known for being one of the most prolific sources of security vulnerabilities in Windows this is the first time it’s directly affecting the image of Windows 8. Will it have any effect on Windows 8 sales? Probably not. While Microsoft’s latest operating system isn’t selling as fast as its predecessor, the software giant recently announced that it sold 200 million copies of Windows 8.

Secunia’s annual report on software vulnerabilities takes a look at 50 of the most commonly used programs and operating systems. This year’s report also says that the time gap between when a flaw is reported and when a fix is delivered is narrowing; 86 percent of the vulnerabilities found in the top 50 software products had a fix available on the day of disclosure.

via IE’s Flash made Windows 8 most vulnerable Windows OS, research says – TechSpot.

Windows 8 may be selling, but different figures define its use

Microsoft last week said that it had sold 200 million licenses of Windows 8 since the operating system launched more than 15 months ago. But how many copies are actually being used?

An analysis of available data showed that while not all 200 million licenses are powering systems that did the most basic of PC tasks—access the Internet—the number of Windows 8 devices in operation was much closer to Microsoft’s claimed mark than nine months ago.

Last May, after analyst Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy questioned Microsoft’s then-number of 100 million licenses sold, Computerworld calculated that Windows 8 was actually being used by just 59 million devices.

How does the 200-million claim—voiced last week by Tami Reller, Microsoft’s marketing chief, at a Goldman Sachs-sponsored technology conference—stack up?

Microsoft counts a license as sold when it provides a customer an upgrade or one of its OEM partners a copy for a new PC, tablet, or two-in-one device, like Microsoft’s own Surface Pro 2. Licenses to hardware vendors make up the bulk of what Microsoft sells. According to the company, the numbers it regularly cites for Windows 8 licenses exclude those sold to enterprises as part of volume licensing agreements.

But because Microsoft considers a license sold—and accounts for it on the books that way—as soon as a Windows-powered device comes off the factory line, it’s added to the “sold” column even though a customer hasn’t purchased the machine. Licenses installed on OEMs’ inventory, whatever is in retail or a warehouse, or for that matter, in transit from factory to destination, count as sold.

Nine months ago, Moorhead argued that a more accurate representation of Windows 8’s success—or failure—was to count differently. “How many Windows 8 PCs have sold and are being used?” Moorhead asked then.

If he asked that same question today, what would be the answer?

via Windows 8 may be selling, but different figures define its use | PCWorld.