A look at Computerworld’s article on Net Applications’ market share data.

Computerworld has an article that tells us Vista use has grown while Mac OS X has remained flat.

The majority of new PCs sold since the end of January have Vista on them, yet Computerworld seems genuinely excited that Vista’s browser use has increased rather rapidly:

“According to Net Applications, in June Windows Vista accounted for 4.52% of all systems that browsed the Web, up from January’s 0.18%. Vista has grown its usage share each month since its release to consumers Jan. 30, hitting 0.93% in February, 2.04% in March, 3.02% in April and 3.74% in May.”

In other news, the sun rises in the East. Who didn’t see this coming?

“If Vista’s uptake trend continues, it should pass Mac OS X in Web usage share by the end of August.”

Who doesn’t see this coming either? It’s meaningless. But let’s worry about that headline when it’s plastered on every tech journal in another month or so. For now, let’s focus on the Net Applications data itself…

Where is Vista’s share coming from? And how are Microsoft and Apple doing long-term in share growth? A review of the data shows that Vista is taking its share directly from Windows 2000 or XP and not affecting the Mac (the CW article acknowledges this as well). Further, the data shows that Microsoft is actually losing browser share.

To understand how, we’ll first see how Windows (2000, XP, and Vista) and Mac OS X (PPC and Intel) have done over time in this arena. Since Net Applications’ data goes back 12 months, we can examine their one-year change:

Combined Windows OS in July, 2006: 90.39%
Combined Windows OS in June, 2007: 90.46%
One-year growth: .001%

That’s flat. No growth despite the fact that Microsoft’s best OS shot was released six months ago. Best that can be said is that it appears no share was lost.

Combined Mac OS in July, 2006: 4.29%
Combined Mac OS in June, 2007: 6.00%
One-year growth: 40%

A 40% increase over 12 months. Pretty impressive growth. This bears out what sales stats have shown us for a while (but Apple haters continue to deny): The Mac is outstripping PC sales. Something seems funny, though. If the Mac grew while Windows stayed the same, at whose expense did the Mac get its share growth? Let’s look a bit deeper…

But wait, there’s more!
While the above would be good enough news for Apple (and unimpressive for Microsoft), there’s something even better. You need to look a little deeper in the data, where Microsoft would probably rather not go. Click on the data for July, 2006 and you’ll see additional detail that includes the following:

Windows 98: 2.68%
Windows ME: 1.26%
Windows NT: 0.79%
Windows 95: 0.05%

That’s another 4.78% for Microsoft, so they really had 95.17% a year ago. I wonder why they didn’t trumpet this fact? I think I can tell you why. Let’s examine the detail for June of this year:

Windows 98: 1.14%
Windows ME: 0.66%
Windows NT: 0.59%
Windows 95: 0.02%

Uh oh. That’s only another 2.41%, making Microsoft’s current total 92.87%. So Microsoft was not flat for the year, they lost 2.3 percentage points. Oops.

Where did Microsoft’s share go? Obviously, almost all of it went to the Mac (Linux gained a few tenths of a point). People are leaving the older Windows systems for the Mac, not for Microsoft’s latest and greatest. Good news for Apple.

Computerworld wanted to make this all about Vista, but that’s silly as long as its eating its own. I don’t know how much can be gathered from browser usage stats, but whatever you can glean about growth from these numbers certainly favors the Mac and does not bode well for Microsoft.

4 thoughts on “A look at Computerworld’s article on Net Applications’ market share data.

  1. Some people just aren’t very good at reading data. The CW author focused on Vista, which was silly, and looked at the previous couple of months of Mac usage and declared it flat, which was equally silly.

    The fact is the data goes back a year so why not take the time to examine it? That’s what my article does and it shows Vista doing no more than expected, and all at the expense of 2000 and XP, so Microsoft gains no share. It also shows solid Mac growth for the year at the expense of Microsoft.

    As for Thurrott, he doesn’t seem to get that CW is reviewing the Net Applications data. In that data Vista has not yet passed the Mac (it probably will next month) so he rails against it.

    It also appears Paul is still bugged by being reproached for blowing off Apple US market share last week, since he threw in this little parenthetical: (And you silly Mac fanatics thought that my focus on market share was malevolent.)


    The expression “silly Mac fanatics” may be a new derogatory term of his. Maybe one of these days instead of that kind of crap he’ll spend his time on real arguments.

    Paul has issues with being called on his stuff, that’s for sure. It was five days ago and he’s still ticked off. Whatever.

  2. Very well put and written. Net Applications could have easily said, “Windows Rapidly Losing Market Share!” which it is, in the case of Windows.

    Vista numbers are rising not by gaining new Window users, but as can be seen, rather by shuffling old XP users into Vista users.

    I read Paul Thurrot’s take on the matter and, well….. forget it. I have a weak stomach.



  3. I agree with you that these kinds of statistics are somewhat dubious, hence my closing paragraph.

    However, in terms of growth they do show the Mac growing while Windows is not.

    As for Macs running Windows, that would skew the numbers in favor of Microsoft, not the Mac, so if anything it make Windows look better. I suspect it has zero impact since I don’t think the Mac running Windows are doing so to browse the web.

  4. I don’t like these web usage stats, hardware sales are more relevant. Besides, the borders are somewhat blurred between Macs and Windows PCs. Intel Macs can run Windows, too.

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