updated 03:15 pm EDT, Thu October 13, 2011
Windows 7 passes XP in usage share for first time
Windows 7 has become the first OS to be used more than Windows XP in the decade since launch. New data collected by StatCounter has shown Windows 7 just passing XP as of October at a rate that saw it grow just as much as XP declined. The troubled earlier release, Windows Vista, never got more than a quarter of users.
Apple still makes up just a small percentage of desktop OS use, but it has been on a steady increase since 2009 and saw its growth accelerate this summer, possibly helped by the new MacBook Air.
XP's tenacity in the market was helped primarily by Vista. The OS was originally to have launched in 2004 but was nearly remade from scratch after major attacks against XP led Microsoft to rethink its entire security strategy. Overly frequent security pop-ups, a lack of hardware support, slow performance, and lower software compatibility led some to deliberately skip Vista and keep using XP for as long as possible.
Windows 7 addressed virtually all of those flaws and has been the fastest-growing Windows release ever, helped in part by pent-up demand. The OS may nonetheless be in its twilight months with the more controversial Windows 8 completed as soon as April.