How popular is Vista?

For each Vista user there are 8 Windows XP users

Considering Vista just had its first birthday, this seemed like a good time to look at some statistics to get a feel for just how popular it is.

Microsoft issues sales figures for Vista licenses, but they have a vested interest and a corporate history that makes trusting them difficult. Market researchers come out with numbers based on surveys but the sample size is always small. That leaves usage statistics, specifically website usage.

The software that runs a web site is called a web server, the most popular programs being Apache and IIS. In addition to serving up web pages, every web server program also creates an activity log that includes information about visitors to the website. When a web browser requests a web page, it also sends information about itself to the web server in a character string called the "user agent". You can see the user agent string for your web browser here.

Reporting software, such as AWStats*, reads the log file, examines the user agent field and can determine the operating system running on the computer that requested each web page.

My most popular website is javatester.org. It offers a free service, reporting on the version of Java being used by your web browser(s). In January 2008 the site averaged 1,859 visits/day, 3,682 page views/day and 26,734 hits/day according to AWStats.


Shown above are the stats for "hits" by Windows users of the website**. Simple division shows that XP accounted for 80% of the traffic and Vista accounted for 10%.*** Next up, were Windows 2000 at 4% and Windows Server 2003 with 3%. Amazingly, someone is still using Windows 3.1.

Put another way, for every Vista user there were eight Windows XP users.

The most popular site that I can get stats for is a radio station in New York City. In January 2008 the site averaged 3,092 visits/day, 14,514 page views/day and 71,457 hits/day according to AWStats.


Shown above are the stats for Windows users of the radio station's website. The percentages are surprisingly similar to the Javatester site - 82% of Windows users ran XP and 10% ran Vista. Next up was Windows 2000 at 5% and Windows 98 at 1%.

I've said before that I think Windows XP is the better choice for Windows users than Vista. Apparently, many of you agree with me.


Slightly off-topic, but an interesting read: A computer shop's sales pitch: 'We remove Vista' by Todd Bishop at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

*All stats reported here are from Advanced Web Statistics version 6.6 (build 1.887).
**Not all users of the website are running Windows, of course, but the stats shown here are just for Windows users. Comparing the popularity of Windows vs. Macs is another topic. Unfortunately, AWStats does not break down visits or page views by operating system, only "hits".
***All percentages are rounded off.

See a summary of all my Defensive Computing postings.

About the author

    Michael Horowitz wrote his first computer program in 1973 and has been a computer nerd ever since. He spent more than 20 years working in an IBM mainframe (MVS) environment. He has worked in the research and development group of a large Wall Street financial company, and has been a technical writer for a mainframe software company.

    He teaches a large range of self-developed classes, the underlying theme being Defensive Computing. Michael is an independent computer consultant, working with small businesses and the self-employed. He can be heard weekly on The Personal Computer Show on WBAI.

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