XP loses ground to Windows 7 but still top OS

The 10-year-old operating system saw its market share drop in February but it still commands a leading 45 percent.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read
Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Windows XP lost more users to Windows 7 last month, but the decade-old platform continues to hold on as the most popular operating system

Looking at OS stats for February, NetApplications found that XP's share of the market dipped to 45 percent from 47 percent in January. At the same time, Windows 7 grabbed 38 percent of all users, up from 36 percent the prior month.

The latest numbers show a trend in which XP has gradually lost share over time, while Windows 7 has picked up more customers. In February 2011, XP owned more than half of the market at 57 percent, while Windows 7 had just a 24 percent share. And though XP climbed slightly in January, it now seems on the decline once again.

Over the past year Windows 7 has been winning an extra percentage point or two most months and has risen steadily each month since its debut more than two years ago. The punching bag of operating systems--Windows Vista--has kept losing more of its audience, now resting with just 8 percent of the market.

Microsoft continues to convince people to move away from XP toward Windows 7.

The company has reminded consumers and especially companies that support for XP runs out in April 2014, at which time security patches, bug fixes, or other updates will no longer be available.

And despite its considerable effort in creating Windows 8, Microsoft has advised businesses still on XP not to wait for the new OS and instead migrate to Windows 7 now. The software giant unveiled its new Windows 8 beta, or Consumer Preview, yesterday at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

The Windows 8 Developer Preview, which launched in September, accounted for just 0.3 percent of the market in February, according to NetApplications. It'll be interesting to see how much of a share the Consumer Preview is able to carve off for March when the research firm releases its next report.