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February 3, 2010

2009 Operating Systems in Review

At first glance, 2009 did not show much change in usage market share between the various major operating systems, but a deeper look shows a couple of significant trends. from provides global usage market share statistics for browsers, operating systems and search engines. This data offers valuable insight into significant trends for internet usage.

Major desktop OS usage market share changes for 2009:

  Windows Mac OS Linux
Dec 2008
Dec 2009

Windows 7 a Huge Success

The biggest OS story of 2009 was the release of Windows 7 from Microsoft. Many people considered Windows Vista to be a failure (and many of those even reside in Redmond), but if you look at the history of Microsoft's OS releases there seems to be a pattern. Think back to 1980 (my Commodore VIC-20 was such a huge step up from teletype).

Bill Gates and Microsoft were approached by IBM to provide an operating system for their new PC. Microsoft reportedly bought DOS to license to IBM for $50,000 and leveraged that to achieve what was possibly the best ROI in the history of business. From DOS to Windows 1 through 3, then a naming convention change to Win 95, Win 98 and Win2000, followed by another naming convention change to Win XP, another change with Vista, and then back to the original naming convention with Windows 7.

I believe that means:

  • Win 95 = Win 4 (huge success)
  • Win 98 = Win 5 (huge success)
  • Win2000 = Win 5.5 (not so much)
  • Win Me = 5.51a (not so much)
  • Win XP = Win 6 (huge success)
  • Win Vista = well, let's skip that version number altogether.
  • Win 7 = Win 7 (so far a huge success)

What this shows:

More than half of Microsoft's major consumer-oriented (not NT) Windows releases have been huge successes. And, we'd all be happier if the marketing folks at Microsoft would be more consistent with their naming conventions.

Windows 7, released in October 2009, has been the fastest selling operating system in history. It hit the ground running with a large number of people in Microsoft's test program, and had over 2% usage market share at launch. Win7 peaked above 5% within a month, and peaked above 10% in just over 3 months.

Google Announces Chrome OS

The next big OS story of 2009 demonstrates the battle of the technology Titans. Nick Bilton of the NY Times published a great story providing A Big-Picture Look at Google, Microsoft, Apple And Yahoo. It shows how these companies are quickly entering each other's markets, but no battle looms quite as large as Google's announcement that it would soon be offering a competitor to Microsoft Windows. Leveraging the development effort of Chrome browser, Google is predicting less reliance on local computing power and more reliance on browser-centric cloud computing. Enter Google Chrome OS, expected in 2010 with a small footprint, quick start-up, and focus on getting the user on the Internet as quickly and easily as possible. All, so we can use Google search and click on Google ads.

The Explosion of Mobile Computing reported in December 2009 that mobile browsing now accounts for 1.3% of all browsing, and rose to 1.48% in January 2010.  The biggest usage share winners the holiday season were mobile devices.  Both Windows and Mac devices lost a small amount of share in December, while all major mobile operating systems attained large percentage gains. This trend not only looks to continue, but perhaps even to accelerate.

Related stories: 

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About the Author:  Vincent Vizzaccaro is EVP of Marketing and Strategic Alliances for, as well as the press contact for, the leading source of Internet Usage Market Share Statistics.

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- Vincent Vizzaccaro