Windows has been in the OS lead for market share for such a long time that a lot of people have never used anything else. So much so that Windows became the face of Microsoft, but various flavors of Linux have always been around for servers and workstations.
The Windows market control seems to be eroding, but it is not a competing Linux distribution that’s closing the gap, it is the rise of Android. When Apple created (maybe not the first) but a successful touchscreen smartphone in 2007, this changed the way we saw technology, which grew very slowly. Google released Android roughly a year later, showing serious promise. Take that to nine innovative years later, both platforms have created the biggest threat, meaning, Microsoft is losing the battle.
Data from Netmarketshare has been collected over the past five years shows that Microsoft Windows has dropped from 88 percent to just 63 percent in total Internet traffic. While Mobile OSes represent nearly 30 percent of the web traffic. While mobile Windows has not gained traction, Android and iOS combined take 94 percent of the mobile market, with Android leading the way at 66 percent.
Global numbers at StatCounter show even higher mobile market share, with desktop systems (including laptops) dropping from 95 percent in 2011 to just 50 percent today.
One reason for the change is the convenience of mobile devices. Hardware enthusiasts have seen big performance leaps over the past few decades, but for the average person, hardware requirements have been sitting on a plateau for a few years.
Desktop and laptop CPU’s have seen a moderate 5-10 percent improvement every year over the past decade, while mobile processors have dramatically changed.
As a rough example, Apple’s A9 SoC in the iPhone 6S/SE line is around 70 percent faster than the previous A8 chip. The A8 is about 50 times faster than the original iPhone’s S5L8900. The new iPhone 7’s A10 meanwhile is a 40-50 percent jump over the A9. So many current smartphones are quickly approaching the “fast enough” era, with Apple’s A9X not far behind Core M Skylake parts.
At the current rate, in the next couple of years, mobile operating system use will pass Windows for internet traffic. So Microsoft is not in the lead anymore. The good news, there will certainly be a place for high-performance systems, seeing a handheld device will never beat a system using 100 times more power. Paving the way for Linux dominance, as growth is seen in the image below.
If or rather when Microsoft ends up being toppled from the computer OS throne, now we have seen Linux market share growing from 1% to 2.11% according recent stats.
We have to wonder which platform will be the best to get our gaming fix? Linux may not have taken over the desktop yet, but it is doing very well on mobile, thanks to Android.