Microsoft's Windows 7 made slight gains in the overall PC market in its first 12 days of release, according to statistics firm Net Applications, while Apple managed to gain incremental market share in October. Although Windows 7 now owns just over 3 percent of the market, that number is expected to increase as Microsoft continues its massive marketing push for the new operating system. Windows 7 has earned mostly positive reviews, which may encourage Windows users to trade up from XP or Vista.
Windows 7, the company's much-hyped new operating system, owned some 3 percent
of the PC market by Nov. 1, according to a new report by statistics firm Net
Applications, but failed to dent Apple's market share in the process.
Net Applications' daily tracking shows Windows 7 gaining ground, starting at
1.99 percent on Oct. 22-the operating system's first day of general release-and
reaching 3.67 percent by Nov. 1. While the actual share numbers are still
small, that represents a 12-day gain of 84 percent.
Despite analysts' theories that the Windows 7 release could adversely affect
Apple's operating-system market share, Net Applications' data further showed
that the percentage of Mac users increased slightly in October 2009, reaching
5.27 percent. However, it will take several quarters' worth of time, and
several more analyst reports, before the true nature of Windows 7's effect
likely becomes clear.
According to Net Applications, Microsoft's various operating systems currently hold 92.52 percent of the overall market. Previous to Windows 7's launch, Net
Applications had tracked Microsoft's share of the operating-system market as
falling, with the percentage of PCs using Windows dipping from 93.06 percent to
92.77 percent between August and September
. Net Applications says that it
collects data from the "approximately 160 million visitors per month"
to its clients' Websites.
The expectation is the Windows 7 will indeed continue to occupy an
ever-larger segment of the market, thanks to a massive marketing push by
Microsoft. If Apple continues to maintain or gain market share in the face of
that pressure, though, it
would validate earlier analysts' comments about the longer-term ability of
Steve Jobs' company to weather the latest attack on its walls.
"We do not expect Microsoft's pending launch of Windows 7 ... to erode
Apple's Mac franchise," Mike Abramsky, an analyst with RBC
Capital Markets, wrote in an Oct. 20 research report. Short term, Windows 7's
improvements over Microsoft's much-hated Vista,
"along with expected positive reviews, publicity and marketing/promotions,
may offer near-term headline risk to [Apple's] valuation."
Even before Windows 7's high-profile launch event in New
York City on Oct. 22, Microsoft had been pulling out
all the stops to promote its newest platform, massive sales of which could help
the company reverse its declining revenues.
In addition to a series of discounts and promotional offers through
retailers such as Best Buy, targeted mostly at consumers, Microsoft took steps
to make Windows 7 an appealing proposition for the enterprise, including
offering Windows 7 Enterprise in a free 90-day trial edition. According to a
report by research firm Forrester Research, some 80 percent of all commercial
PCs continue to use Windows XP, an aging but stable operating system.
The inevitable changes in security and driver models in the years since XP's
release, however, mean there is no linear upgrade path between Windows XP and
Windows 7, potentially discouraging businesses wishing to adopt the new
operating system. To ease the disruptive process of upgrading between the two
introduced Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor,
a free downloadable program for
testing existing computer systems' compatibility, while
posting step-by-step instructions for transitioning on its site.
For businesses running legacy applications that depend on Windows XP,
Microsoft included Windows XP Mode in Windows 7, which allows those XP-based
applications to be run in a virtual environment. One of businesses' largest
complaints about XP's successor, Vista, was the lack of
backward compatibility with such applications, an experience that Microsoft
seems anxious to not repeat.
According to Net Applications, Vista still held 18.8
percent of the PC operating-system market on the eve of Windows 7's release.
Editor's Note: A sentence was added clarifying Microsoft's overall PC operating-system market share.