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Operating Systems

Windows 8, 8.1 combined beat XP for first time

Windows XP is still hanging onto the No. 2 spot among all desktop OS Web traffic recorded by Net Applications in May. But together, Windows 8 and 8.1 outshine the 13-year-old OS.

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Together Windows 8 and 8.1 are now found on more PCs than Windows XP. Net Applications

Windows 8 and 8.1 have teamed up to finally overtake Windows XP among desktop operating systems.

Surveying Web traffic among desktop operating systems for the month of May, Web tracker Net Applications gave Windows 8.1 a 12.8 percent share, higher than the 11.1 percent reported in April.

In the meantime, Windows XP's share of traffic dwindled to 14.6 percent in May from 15.9 percent in April. That means XP is still holding onto its No. 2 spot ahead of Windows 8.1. However, if you add Windows 8 to the mix with its 3.6 percent share, then collectively Windows 8 and 8.1 snagged a 16.4 percent cut, beating XP for the first time.

Regardless, Windows 7 remained the champ last month with 57.7 percent share, though that was down slightly from 58.3 percent in April. In fourth place was Apple's Mac OS X version 10.10 with 4.2 percent share.

Windows 8 has had a rough time catching on among PC users, many of whom have steered away from the touchscreen-centered OS initially released in 2012. Launched a year later, Windows 8.1 was designed to tone down some of the touchscreen elements and offer mouse and keyboard users a friendlier, more usable environment. Microsoft also cut off technical support for XP in April 2014, hoping to convince people to upgrade to a more modern OS. But given the poor reception to Windows 8 and 8.1 and the desire or need among some to stick with XP, that transition has taken much longer than expected.

Looking ahead, a new contender should be rising up the ranks as the year unwinds. Microsoft announced on Monday that Windows 10 will officially debut on July 29 and will be available as a free upgrade to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users and be found on new PCs sold in retail stores. Microsoft is looking to Windows 10 as its solution to those turned off by Windows 8. The new OS is also designed to offer a more unifying experience among PCs and mobile devices.

Windows 10 has been available as a technical preview since October for testing. Since it's designed as a beta release and not for actual production, the technical preview has so far shown up as a blip on Net Applications' radar, raking in a mere 0.13 percent share last month. But if Windows 10 catches on as strongly and as quickly as Microsoft hopes, that number should begin a steady ascent starting in August.