Usage share of operating systems

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The usage share of operating systems is the percentage market share of the operating systems used in computers. Different categories of computers use a wide variety of operating systems, so the total usage share varies enormously from one category to another.

In certain categories, one family of operating systems dominates, for example, most desktop and laptop computers use Microsoft Windows, while most supercomputers use Linux. In other categories, such as smartphones and servers, there is more diversity. Data about operating system share is difficult to obtain, since in most categories there are few reliable primary sources or agreed methodologies for its collection.

Desktop and laptop computers[edit]

Desktop operating system browsing statistics on Net Applications
Windows 7
Windows XP
Windows 8/8.1
Windows Vista
Desktop OS Market Share as of May 2014 according to Net Applications[1]

There is little openly published information on the usage share of desktop and laptop computers. Gartner publishes estimates, but the way the estimates are calculated is not openly published. Also, sales may overstate usage. Most computers are sold with a pre-installed OS; some users replace that OS with a different one due to personal preference, or install another OS alongside it and use both. Conversely, sales underestimate usage by not counting infringing copies. For example, in 2009, approximately 80% of software sold in China was pirated.[2] In 2007, the statistics from an automated push of an IE7 update onto legal copies of Windows contrasted with observed web browser share, leading one author[3] to estimate that 25–35% of all Windows XP installations are illegal.

Web clients[edit]

Web clients OS families in May 2014
Windows OSes
Linux OSes
Apple OSes
Symbian, S40
Web clients OS families in May 2014 StatCounter[4][5]

The following information on web clients is obtained from the user agent information supplied to web servers by web browsers. These figures are inaccurate for a variety of reasons. For a discussion on the shortcomings see Usage share of web browsers.

The most recent data from various sources published during the last six months is summarized in the table below. All of these sources monitor a substantial number of web sites; statistics related to one web site only are excluded.

Source Date Microsoft Windows Apple Linux kernel based Other[a]
8/8.1 7 Vista XP WP&RT Other OS X iOS Linux Android Other
Net Applications[6][7] May-14 +0.038.66% -0.4734.28% -0.051.99% -3.3517.30% +0.410.66% 0.00.08% -0.315.06% +0.1815.24% +0.001.11% +1.9913.11% -0.020.26% -0.512.24%
StatCounter Global Stats[8][9] June-14 +0.11%9.54% -2.08%36.79% -0.16%2.26% -0.18%10.89% +0.06%0.74% +0.00%0.14% -0.33%5.73% +0.84%11.06% -0.111.24% +0.94%15.72% -0.10%0.99% -0.11%4.95%
W3Counter[10] May-14 +0.769.10% +0.4338.06% +1.153.66% -1.8912.68% -0.00 -0.00 -2.078.69% +0.6410.60% +0.042.07% +0.738.75% -0.00 -0.218.30%
AT Internet[11] Feb-14 +0.43%8.00% -0.46%43.30% -0.26%4.70% -0.76%14.40% 0.0 0.0 -0.03%6.60% +0.53%12.70% 0.00%1.00% 0.56%8.20% 0.0 0.03%0.40%
Wikimedia[12] Apr-14 +0.186.47% -0.4027.33% -0.15%1.88% -1.01%6.81% +0.040.71% +0.090.19% -0.13%5.65% 1.4033.92% -0.04%1.33% -0.23%11.02% 0.0%0% 0.000.43%
  1. ^ The 'Other' column is obtained by summing all percentage data and subtracting from 100%.

Tablet computers[edit]

Tablet computers, or simply tablets, became a significant OS market share category starting with Apple's iOS-based iPad. There have been 170 million iPads sold as of October 2013.[13]

Global shipments ("shipments refer to sell-in", that is, wholesale)
Source Date iOS Android Microsoft Windows Other
Strategy Analysis[14][not in citation given] Q1 2013 48.2% 43.4% 7.5% 0.9%

Mobile devices[edit]

Mobile operating system browsing statistics on Net Applications
Java ME
Windows Phone
Mobile OS Market Share as of May 2014 Net Applications[15]

Mobile operating systems that can be found on smartphones include Google's Android, Apple's iOS, Nokia's Symbian, BlackBerry's BlackBerry OS, Microsoft's Windows Mobile and its successor Windows Phone 7 and later 8, Samsung's Bada and Tizen, and LG's webOS. Android and webOS are in turn built on top of Linux, and iOS is derived from Darwin-like OS X, which in turn is built upon the BSD and NeXTSTEP operating systems. Linux, BSD, and NeXTSTEP are all related to Unix. Many[which?] statistics sites also consider tablet operating systems as part of the mobile OS market share.

Source Date Method iOS Android BlackBerry Symbian/Series 40 Bada Windows Other
comScore Reports[16] (US only) Jan-14 subscribers, US 41.6% 51.7% 3.1% 0.2% N/A 3.2% N/A
Gartner[17] May-13 units sold 18.2% 74.4% 3.0% 0.6% 0.7% 2.9% 0.3%
Gartner[18] Aug-13 units sold 14.2% 79.0% 2.7% 0.3% 0.4% 3.3% 0.2%
International Data Corporation[19] May-13 units shipped 17.3% 75.0% 2.9% 0.6 N/A 3.2% 0.0%
Net Applications[20] Mar-14 browsing 53.29 36.58 1.13% 3.92% 0.00% 0.69% 4.39%
StatCounter Global Stats[21] Feb-14 browsing 22.97% 47.57% 2.62% 14.86% 3.86% 2.22% 2.22%
Wikimedia Mar-13 browsing 66.53% 25.93% 2.02% 3.03% 0.42% 1.85% 0.7%
Strategy Analytics[22] Oct-13 units shipped 13.4% 81.3% 1.0% N/A N/A 4.1% 0.2%

Table is share of mobile OSs - not overall marketshare

Servers on the Internet[edit]

Internet based servers' market share can be measured with statistical surveys of publicly accessible servers, such as web servers, mail servers[23] or DNS servers on the Internet: the operating system powering such servers is found by inspecting raw response messages. This method gives insight only into market share of operating systems that are publicly accessible on the Internet.

There will be differences in the result depending on how the sample is done and observations weighted. Usually the surveys are not based on a random sample of all ip numbers, domain names, hosts or organisations, but on servers found by some other method.[citation needed] Additionally many domains and ip numbers may be served by one host and some domains may be served by several hosts or by one host with several ip numbers.

Source Date Method Unix, Unix-like Microsoft Windows References
All Linux BSD Unknown
W3Techs February 2014 Units (Web) 67.4% 38.6% 1.0% 27.77% 32.6% [24][25]
Security Space November 2012 Units (Web) 62-82% 58-78% >4% 18-38% [26][27]


  • W3Techs from June 2013 checking daily the top 10 million Web servers but W3Techs definition of "website" differs a bit from Alexa's definition, the "top 10 million" websites are actually less than 10 million. However, this has no statistical significance.[28]

A method to measure the overall server market, rather than subsets like publicly accessible web servers, is to count server hardware sales, using data from server manufacturers. Using this method, market share can be measured either in units or in revenue. In either case, the measure refers to server hardware, not to software. Units refers to the number of physical servers running a given OS, and revenue refers to hardware revenue for physical servers running that OS. It does not refer to software licensing or support revenue, which often varies considerably from one OS to another.[citation needed]

Source Date Method Linux Windows Unix z/OS Total References
IDC Q3 2013 Revenue 28.0% 50.3% 11.1% 6.8% 96.2% [29]


IBM's System z10

According to a 2008 report nearly 95% of Fortune 1000 companies use IBM's Information Management System.[30]

Linux as guest on mainframes[edit]

Operating systems for IBM System z generation hardware include IBM's bundled proprietary z/OS,[30] Linux on System z and as of October 7, 2008, the prototype OpenSolaris for System z.

Gartner reported on December 23, 2008 that Linux on System z was used on approximately 28% of the "customer z base" and that they expected this to increase to over 50% in the following five years.[31]

Of Linux on System z, Red Hat and Novell compete to sell RHEL and SLES respectively.

  • Prior to 2006, Novell claimed a market share of 85% or more.
  • Red Hat has since claimed 18.4% in 2007 and 37% in 2008.[32]
  • Gartner reported at the end of 2008 that Novell had an 80% share of mainframe Linux.[31]


Supercomputer OS family - systems share according to TOP500[33]

The TOP500 project lists and ranks the 500 fastest supercomputers that benchmark results are submitted for. It publishes the collected data twice a year.

Source Date Method Linux Unix Mixed Microsoft Windows BSD based References
TOP500 November 2013 Systems share 96.4% 2.2% 0.8% 0.4% 0.2% [34]
TOP500 November 2013 Performance share 98.0% 1.4% 0.47% 0.13% 0.05% [34]

Market share by category[edit]

Category Source Date Linux based Mac and other Unix In-house Windows Other
Desktop, laptop, netbook Net Applications[35] May-14 1.62% (Ubuntu, etc.) 7.39% (OS X) 90.99% (XP, 7, Vista, 8)
Smartphone, tablet, handheld game console StatCounter Global Stats[36] Mar-14 46.26% (Android) 33.09% (iOS) 1.78% (WP8, RT) 18.87%
Server (web) W3Techs[37] Jan-14 34.62% (Debian, CentOS, RHEL) 32.48% (BSD, HP-UX, AIX, Solaris) 32.90% (W2K3, W2K8)
Supercomputer TOP500[34] Nov-13 96.4% (Custom) 2.4% (UNIX) 0.4% 0.8%
Mainframe Gartner[32] Dec-08 28% (SLES, RHEL) 72% (z/OS)
Gaming console Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, Ouya[38] Jun-13 0% (SteamOS, Android) 29.6% (PS3) 40.9% (Wii) 29.5% (Xbox)
Embedded UBM Electronics[39] Mar-12 29.44% (Android, Other) 4.29% (QNX) 13.5% 11.65% (WCE 7) 41.1%
Real time NewTechPress[40] Nov-11 19.3% (Android) 20.1% 35.8% (XPE, WCE) 24.8%

Note: Embedded and real time segments are vast categories with subcategories including automotive, avionics, health, medical equipment, consumer electronics, intelligent homes, telecommunications. The aggregated information above may be very different for each subcategory taken separately.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Desktop Operating System Market Share. Net Applications{{inconsistent citations}} 
  2. ^ "Software Pirates in China Beat Microsoft to the Punch". The New York Times. 19 October 2009. 
  3. ^ "Around 25–35% of Windows XP systems are pirated (calculations included)". 
  4. ^ "Worldwide user OS families use in May 2014". 
  5. ^ "Top 8 Operating System from Aug 2011 to May 2014". 
  6. ^ Operating System Market Share. Hits link. 
  7. ^ Operating System Market Share. Hits link. 
  8. ^ "OS monthly 2014-06". StatCounter. 
  9. ^ "Desktop vs Mobile". 
  10. ^ Global stats. W3 Counter. 
  11. ^ Operating system barometer. AT Internet. 
  12. ^ Wikimedia Traffic Analysis Report - Operating Systems, 2014-04. 
  13. ^ Nathan Ingraham (October 22, 2013). "Apple has sold 170 million iPads since it launched in April 2010". The Verge. Retrieved October 23, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Android-Captures-Record-41-Percent-Share". 
  15. ^ "NetMarketShare:Mobile/Tablet Operating System Market Share". 
  16. ^ "comScore Reports January 2014 U.S. Smartphone Subscriber Market Share - comScore, Inc". 2014-03-07. Retrieved 2014-03-30. 
  17. ^ "Worldwide Smartphone Sales to End Users by Operating System in 1Q13". 
  18. ^ "Worldwide Smartphone Sales to End Users by Operating System in 2Q13". 
  19. ^ "Top Five Smartphone Operating Systems, Shipments, and Market Share, 1Q13 (Units in Millions)". 
  20. ^ "NetMarketShare:Mobile/Tablet Operating System Market Share". 
  21. ^ "StatCounter Global Stats: Top 8 Mobile Operating Systems on Feb 2014". 
  22. ^ "Android Captures Record 81 Percent Share of Global Smartphone Shipments in Q3 2013". 
  23. ^ "Mail Server Survey". Security Space. August 2011. 
  24. ^ "Usage of operating systems for websites". W3Techs. February 2014. 
  25. ^ "Usage of Unix for websites". W3Techs. February 2014. 
  26. ^ "Web Server Survey". Security Space. December 2013. 
  27. ^ "OS/Linux Distributions using Apache". Security Space. December 2013. 
  28. ^ "Web Technologies Statistics and Trends". W3Techs. December 2013. 
  29. ^ "Worldwide Server Market Revenues Decline -3.7% in the Third Quarter as Weak Unix Server Demand Weights on the Market, According to IDC". International Data Corporation. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  30. ^ a b "IBM Tightens Stranglehold Over Mainframe Market; Gets Hit with Antitrust Complaint in Europe". Computer & Communications Industry Association. 2 July 2008. 
  31. ^ a b "Vendor Rating: Novell, 2008". Gartner RAS Core Research Note G00162399. 23 December 2008. Retrieved 23 November 2009. 
  32. ^ a b Claybrook, Bill (1 September 2009). "Red Hat bolsters Linux for mainframes, tries to catch Novell". Retrieved 23 November 2009. 
  33. ^ "Top500 OS chart". Retrieved 18 January 2011. 
  34. ^ a b c "Operating system Family share for 11/2013". Top 500 project. 
  35. ^ Operating System Market Share, 2014-03. Net Applications{{inconsistent citations}} 
  36. ^ "StatCounter Global Stats: Top 8 Mobile Operating Systems on March 2014". 
  37. ^ "Usage of OS for websites". W3Techs. January 2014. 
  38. ^ "Ouya hardware impressions, aka Indie Game: The Console". Ars technica. 
  39. ^ "Embedded market study -- Mars, 2012". 
  40. ^ "RTOS market". NewTechPress. November 2011. 

External links[edit]