Microsoft Windows 8.1 Rises As Win XP Plummets - InformationWeek

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Microsoft Windows 8.1 Rises As Win XP Plummets
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D. Henschen
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D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
12/2/2014 | 3:16:49 PM
Re: How to count: Let us count the ways!
I guess these stats would more accurately described as operating system share as measured by PC Internet surfing habits. Where mobile operating systems part of the same or separate measures?

One (presumably small) slice of the computing universe forgotten by Internet surfing measures would be PC's out there used in various business roles where surfing the Internet just isn't an option. I recall seeing a PC at the end of a jetway at the airport this summer. Presumably it was there for use with the airline's baggage or boarding system. This workstation wasn't being used by anybody at the time, so the Windows XP logo was blinking its way across the sceen in screen-saver mode.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
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12/2/2014 | 2:04:09 PM
Re: How to count: Let us count the ways!
It's definitely mushy, though I think we can partially address some of these questions. I honestly hadn't thought about how demonstration models sitting in, say, Best Buy or an Apple store might affect these statistics, but I suppose that they could. For Net Applications, if someone playing with a display computer happens to access a website in the relevant network, I believe that computer would count as a single "user." If another shopper at the store comes up to the display computer a few minutes later and happens to load another site in the Net Applications network, the second shopper wouldn't count as an additional user, and thus would not further inflate that machine's statistical impact. StatCounter, on the other hand, would count both shoppers toward an aggregate usage statistic, however.

As for PCs sitting in warehouses and so on... I don't think those have any influence. To count towards either sets of data, a PC has to access the public Internet and, moreover, load a page that one of the web-tracking agencies happens to have in its network. Likewise, if some businesses have XP machines running isolated apps on closed networks, I don't see how Net Applications or StatCounter would see them.

Neither methodology is perfect, but Net Applications tries to count how many people are using each OS during a given month-- an interesting if intrinsically limited statistic, given that not all users are equally interesting, depending on what you want to know. StatCounter tries to measure which OSes are contributing the most web traffic in a given month-- a different, also interesting, but also intrinsically limited statistic. A population of extreme power users could heavily sway the StatCounter statistics whereas a couple million aging computer turned on once a month for email might inflate an older OS's importance in the Net Applications numbers-- and those are best case scenarios, assuming  the numbers aren't corrupted in other ways (which they almost certainly are). We don't have particular insight into the specific sites scanned, for example-- how representative they are for this sort of macro-scale extrapolation, and so on. So it's an imprecise picture, to be sure-- but if we take it with those limitations, I think some useful trends can be discerned—e.g. all those cheap Windows 8.1 devices have most likely driven up sales.
D. Henschen
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D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
12/2/2014 | 1:39:45 PM
How to count: Let us count the ways!
It sounds like the difference between StatCounter and Net Applications and stats is "usage" and "existence," respectively. In the case of StatCounter it sounds like they're counting actual people using computers. With Net Applications, it's less clear how they're counting -- unless I missed something. Is it installed operating systems out there in the world, perhaps including those in warehouse and on store shelves waiting to be sold?

Another question is how does anyone determine that a given license is no longer in use? How many of us have old XP-based machines sitting in basements or attics that could, technically speaking, still be used. I suppose Microsoft knows when a licensed operating system hasn't phoned home in more than X months, but counting operating system market share seems like a mushy science.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
12/2/2014 | 11:20:00 AM
Re: Why more Win 8 use?
@Somedude8,


I think it has much more to do with Win 8.1 being on the vast majority of PCs that consumers see available online and in stores. If you were thinking of snagging one of those $200 Windows notebooks that just hit the market, for example, you're going to get Windows 8.1, whether you want it or not.

That said, I'm sure some people have gradually warmed up to Windows 8.1 and are making a purchase based primarily on the OS, or at least some aspect of it. Some people have probably also been swayed by Office 365 subscriptions, which are bundled with most of the cheap Windows 8.1 tablets and notebooks. In fact, on Black Friday, a few Windows 8.1 tablets were so cheap, they offered less expensive access to Office 365 than purchasing a subscription outright--e.g. $60 for a tablet with one-year Office 365 subscription vs. $70 for that subscription outright.


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