It's August, which means a lack of major news on the Microsoft front this week. That being said, some new analyst data details the company's progress in certain vital areas as it heads into the back half of 2011.
For starters, a new research report from Gartner suggests that Windows 7 is primed to become the "leading operating system worldwide" by the end of 2011, with a presence on 42 percent of PCs. That should come as no surprise, given how the operating system now comes loaded on the vast majority of new PCs shipped by Microsoft's OEMs.
"Steady improvements in IT budgets in 2010 and 2011 are helping to accelerate the deployment of Windows 7 in enterprise markets in the U.S. and the Asia-Pacific, where Windows 7 migrations started in large volume in [the fourth quarter of 2010]," Annette Jump, a research director at Gartner, wrote in an Aug. 9 research note. However, she added that political turbulence and economic slowdowns in areas like Japan and parts of the Middle East will "lead to slightly late and slow deployment for Windows 7 across those regions."
According to a recent Net Applications analysis, Windows XP occupies some 49.69 percent of the operating system market, followed by Windows 7 with 27.92 percent, Windows Vista with 9.27 percent and Mac OS X 10.6 with 3.76 percent.
Those stats have been echoed by StatCounter, which gives Windows XP about 44.4 percent of the market, followed by Windows 7 with 35.94 percent, Windows Vista with 11.02 percent and Mac OS X with 6.31 percent.
Even as Windows 7 seized more of the operating system market, Microsoft's hold on smartphones continued to slip. New data from Gartner (whose analysts evidently don't believe in slacking off in August) estimated Microsoft's share in the latter market at 1.6 percent for the second quarter of 2011, down from 4.9 percent a year ago-trailing Google Android's 43.4 percent, Nokia's Symbian with 22.1 percent, Apple iOS with 18.2 percent, RIM's BlackBerry franchise with 11.7 percent, and Bada-a mobile OS developed by Samsung-with 1.9 percent.
Other analyst firms have traced Microsoft's smartphone market tumble over the past several quarters. Research firm comScore, for example, recently estimated that Microsoft smartphones declined from 7.5 percent to 5.8 percent of the market for the three-month period ending in June. That included both Windows Phone and the company's more antiquated Windows Mobile platform, which is being phased out.
Microsoft hopes its upcoming "Mango" update, due to final release sometime this fall, will spur greater consumer adoption. Samsung, HTC, LG Electronics and Nokia have all committed to building new Windows Phone devices preloaded with Mango, along with Acer and ZTE. Some 500 new elements to the update include expanded functionality for the Xbox Live and Office hubs, and new multi-tasking abilities.
Earlier this week, the rumor drifted around that Microsoft would release Mango Sept. 1-something an executive involved with Windows Phone seemed to refute.
"Sept 1? Just a rumor," Joe Belfiore, Microsoft's corporate vice president and director of Windows Phone Program Management, tweeted Aug. 12.
Meanwhile, Microsoft's share of the U.S. explicit-core search market remained unchanged between June and July, according to new data from research firm comScore.
Overall, Google Websites led in July with 65.1 percent of the U.S. market, a slight decrease from 65.5 percent in June. Yahoo came in second with 16.1 percent, a tiny uptick from June's 15.9 percent. Meanwhile, Microsoft stayed steady at 14.4 percent.
Microsoft's Bing powers Yahoo's back-end search, per the terms of a previous agreement between the companies. That means Yahoo's market share should be added to Microsoft's, essentially doubling it. Even with that doubling, however, Google retains a comfortable lead over Microsoft in search-engine land-despite the latter's slow-but-steady gains with Bing over the past two years.
So, in market-share summary: Microsoft's flagship Windows offering (Windows 7) is gaining ground, its smartphones are losing ground and its search-engine efforts remain about even.