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Microsoft’s Windows 8 is ending the year by reaching a nice little milestone — exceeding 10 percent market share (for Windows 8 and 8.1 combined) for the first time on desktop and notebook computers, according to preliminary operating system usage data for December, as reported by Net Applications.

windowsAt the same time, Windows XP (originally released more than a decade ago) dipped below 30 percent market share.

Windows XP’s market share is down from about 40 percent a year ago, and still a long way from what Microsoft would like to see prior to the official end of Windows XP support in April of this year. (That means no more security updates, fixes or paid support for computers still running the operating system after that point.) But at least it’s headed in the right direction.

And then there’s Windows 7, which is refusing to fade away — actually increasing its market share over the past six months, as some businesses and computer users opt to stay away from Windows 8 (which was released in October 2012.) Windows 7 ended the year at 48 percent market share, up a few percentage points from the beginning of the year.

That speaks to the challenge Microsoft faces as it tries to move users to the latest version of Windows, which is key to the company’s broader strategy of unifying its software and services across various devices. Windows 7 is still in demand because Windows 8, for better or worse, is a radical change.

Of course, desktop and notebook computers are just part of the definition of “computing” as we enter 2014. As shown in the chart below, based on Net Applications data, Microsoft’s market share in tablets and smartphones isn’t yet enough to break the company out of the “other” category. This is something that Microsoft will be aiming to accelerate with the acquisition of Nokia, set to be completed early this year.


Previously on GeekWireMicrosoft’s 2014 will be defined by a new CEO … if Ballmer and Gates can let go


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