Windows 7 Passes Vista, but Opinions Differ

Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system now occupies about 14.8 percent of the operating system market, according to analytics company Janco, putting it ahead of Windows Vista. However, Janco's numbers contrast with those produced by other analytics companies, which suggest that Windows 7's market share is growing but still lags behind Vista and Windows XP. Microsoft has seen an increase in revenues thanks to consumer spending on Windows 7, for which it has sold 90 million licenses between the October 2009 release and March 2010.

Microsoft's Windows 7 occupies 14.8 percent of the operating system market, according to analytics company Janco Associates, putting it ahead of Windows Vista. However, that data contrasts with findings by other companies, which contend that Windows 7 is still on track but has not yet passed Vista in the quest to win from long-reigning Windows XP the title of most-used operating system.

"The last OS that was accepted as quickly in the market was XP. Vista's market share has peaked and is in the process of being decommissioned in most enterprises," Victor Janulaitis, CEO of Janco, said in a May 3 statement. "The last six months have been a mixed bag for Microsoft. While they have good news on the OS front, their browser market share has fallen to the level that it was in 1998."

The full Janco study can be found here.

However, other companies have said Windows 7's market share is somewhat lower. Net Applications, for example, pegs the operating system as owning 11.68 percent of the market, lagging behind Vista at 15.60 percent and XP at 63.41 percent. That breakdown, based on a report generated on May 3, can be found here.

What is indisputable, however, is that consumer purchases of Windows 7 are helping drive Microsoft's revenue higher after several quarters of being battered by the global recession. During an April 22 conference call, the company reported that its fiscal 2010 third-quarter earnings had climbed 6 percent, year over year, to $14.50 billion. A substantial portion of that was due to about 90 million Windows 7 licenses selling between its October 2009 release and March 2010.

Business spending on the operating system, however, has not matched the rate of consumer adoption. During the conference call, Peter Klein, Microsoft's chief financial officer, suggested that a "return in business hardware spending" seemed to be in the works, with businesses of all sizes opening their wallets for IT infrastructure after months or years of tightened budgets. Nonetheless, Microsoft seems to anticipate a slower overall rise in hardware and software spending by businesses in the foreseeable future.

"Windows 7 continues to be a growth engine, but we also saw strong growth in other areas like Bing search, Xbox Live and our emerging cloud services," Klein told reporters and analysts on the call. "Our record third-quarter revenue along with continued rigor on cost management resulted in exceptional EPS growth."