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Microsoft share of Web devices falls to 25% from 90% in 2009

The company's software now runs on less than a quarter of Internet-connected devices, diminishing the firm's importance for consumers.

Software made by Microsoft now runs on less than a quarter of devices that can connect to the Internet -- down from over 90 per cent just four years ago.

The explosion in mobile devices running Apple's iOS and Google's Android software has massively diminished the importance of Microsoft in people's daily lives, according to new analysis from mobile industry expert Benedict Evans.

Taking published sales figures and informed industry analyst estimates, Evans calculated total sales of devices over the last four years. Essentially, he turned this graph, which shows flat PC sales and rocketing smart mobile devices:

...on its side, and came up with this one:

It's a solid piece of number crunching, but my caveat would be the frequency with which people buy new phones far outstrips how often they buy PCs. Just because you haven't bought a new laptop in three or four years doesn't mean you aren't using it every day. And just because your phone can connect to the Internet, it doesn't mean you're necessarily using it for anything other than calls and texts.

Nevertheless, it's clear that many people are buying tablets where four years ago they'd have bought a laptop. And we know they're not buying Microsoft tablets, or even PCs running Windows 8.

"PC sales aren't going to zero this year," Evans concedes. "But the replacement cycle, already at 5 years, will lengthen further and further, more and more apps will move to mobile or the cloud, and for many people the PC will end up like the printer or fax -- vestigial reminders of an older way of doing things."

Microsoft still makes a vast amount of money from Office, which it seems to be successfully transitioning to the Internet-based Office 365. It's making more from Windows Phone, but a large part of that is from Android patents it owns -- its market share is minuscule.

As for its efforts to get into the gaming and entertainment business, it was all going swimmingly until the Xbox One launch. Having backtracked on its disastrous online requirement, there's every chance it may sell millions, as long as it has great games. But there's no doubt it took a serious dent there, handing a huge advantage to Sony, whose PlayStation 4 is still much cheaper.

Is it all over for Microsoft and consumers? Is it just a business service provider now? How can it turn it round? Will Windows Phone ever be a serious player? Leave a comment via your Internet-connected device below, or on our always-online Facebook page.