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 (OS), so the total usage share varies significantly from one category to another. Android has the largest installed base of all general-purpose operating systems, and it is the most popular OS in Asia[1] and Africa,[2] by web usage. Since 2013, devices running it have been selling more than Windows, iOS and Mac OS X devices combined. That makes Android the most popular smartphone operating system, while on tablets, the iPad tablet still makes iOS more popular in that category. 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 the servers category, 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.

Worldwide device shipments[edit]

Device Shipments, 2014
OS Device Shipments, Gartner[3]

According to Gartner, the following is the worldwide device shipments (referring to wholesale) by operating system, which includes smartphones, tablets, laptops and PCs together.

Worldwide Device Shipments by Operating System
Source Year Android iOS/OS X Windows Others
Gartner[3] 2014 48.61% 11.04% 14.0% 26.34%
Gartner[4] 2013 38.51% 10.12% 13.98% 37.41%
Gartner[5] 2012 22.8% 9.6% 15.62% 51.98%

On 22 October 2015, Microsoft reported Windows 10 running on 110 million devices[6] of their goal of 1 billion (in 2–3 years from launch).

Desktop and laptop computers[edit]

Desktop/Laptop operating system browsing statistics
Windows 7
Windows 8.1
Windows XP
Windows 10
Windows 8
Windows Vista
Chrome OS
Desktop OS market share according to StatCounter for October 2015.[7][8] Windows 10 has, since the month numbers, passed OS X and XP to third rank at 9.68% half a month later,[9] and 10.1% for a week long period.[10][11]

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. Another source of market share of various operating systems is StatCounter[12] basing its estimate on web use. Also, sales may overstate usage. Most computers are sold with a pre-installed operating system (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 unauthorized copies. For example, in 2009, approximately 80% of software sold in China were due to copyright infringement.[13] In 2007, the statistics from an automated update of IE7 for registered Windows computers differed with the observed web browser share, leading one writer to estimate that 25–35% of all Windows XP installations were illegal.[14]

Web analysis shows significant variation in different parts of the world. For example, in North America usage of Windows XP has dropped to 4.7%, but in Asia it is still 13.6% (even higher in China, at 30%;[15] and India[16]). Conversely OS X in North America claims 17% whereas in Asia it is only 3%.[17]

Web clients[edit]

Web clients' OS family statistics
Linux kernel-based
Web clients' OS family statistics in July 2015 StatCounter.[18] The following information on web clients is obtained from the user agent information supplied to web servers by web browsers. These figures have a large margin of error 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 twelve 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.

As of August 2015, every weekend Android is ranked highest, above Windows 7,[19] but note that Android includes many versions (already summarized by StatCounter, unlike what it does for Windows; done in the graph here for convenience), while Windows 7, is just one version of Microsoft Windows, that is however by far the most popular Windows version (currently). See also #Crossover to mobile getting more popular.

In China, Android has on some days ranked highest, above Windows 7, and every week since 18 September 2015[20] (not only weekends[21]). In fact, in the Asian continent, Android has been ranked 1st, for some time now, currently at 38.54%, Windows 7 2nd at 25.52%, iOS 3rd at 7.58%.[22] In the African continent, Android (is at times up to 48.43%) is also ranked 1st above all Windows version combined.[23]

Source Date Microsoft Windows: -1.3349.5 Apple: -0.6515.62 Linux kernel based: +1.8329.13 Others[a]
10 8/8.1 7 Vista XP WP&RT Others OS X iOS Linux Android Other
StatCounter Global Stats[24] Jul 2015 4.22.97% -1.869.83% -1.8729.25% -0.71.07% -0.345.36% +0.020.91% +0.020.11% -0.394.51% -0.2611.11% +0.051.17% +1.7727.39% +0.010.57% +0.155.75%
Wikimedia[25] Jun 2015 0.010.1% +2.979.79% +0.6725.42% -0.38%1.15% -1.44%3.88% +0.261.12% -0.010.02% 0.35%5.25% -6.7730.5% 0.01%1.18% +2.36%14.91% 0.0%0.1% -6.16.44%
W3Counter[26] Feb 2015 0.0 +0.2211.59% -0.3139.28% -0.122.04% -0.527.36% -0.00 -0.00 -0.066.28% +0.1711.42% +0.092.44% +0.5512.62% -0.00 -0.376.87%
  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 iPad. There have been 250 million iPads sold as of January 2015,[27] compared to 174 million Android and 5 million Microsoft Windows-based tablets, with others systems under half a million as of March 2014.[28] In first quarter 2015, smaller Android vendors mostly made up for the huge sales drop of the biggest vendors, Samsung (an Android vendor) and Apple.[29]

According to Strategy Analytics, "In 2015 Android will continue its domination of the global Tablet market",[30] while the dominating sales volume of Android tablets may not show up in web browsing statistics with different usage patterns of some of the lower-cost devices such as if you "stick it next to your bed and use it as an alarm clock with widgets for weather, stocks, etc."[31] Some tablet web usage may also not be reflected in statistics when "desktop" versions of web pages are requested.

Global shipments ("shipments refer to sell-in", that is, wholesale)
Source Date Android iOS Windows Others
Gartner[28] 2013 61.9% 36.0% 2.1% <0.1%
Strategy Analytics[32][33] Q1 2013 43.4% 48.2% 7.5% 0.9%
Gartner[28] 2012 45.8% 52.8% 1.0% 0.3%
Global tablet web usage
Source Date iOS Android Linux Win. RT BlackBerry Others
StatCounter[34] Jul 2015 65.51% 31.36% 2.57% 0.78% 0.2% 0.16%
StatCounter[35] Feb 2015 66.47% 29.6% 2.48% 1.16% 0.17% 0.08%
StatCounter[36] Oct 2014 71.67% 25.62% 2.31% 0.08% 0.19% 0.13%

As of March 2015, Android has made steady gains to becoming the most popular (is already, in some continents) tablet operating system (based on StatCounter's web use as a proxy, but sales numbers would also confirm);[37] that is the trend in many countries (at least counties where the market isn't saturated) having already gained majority in big countries (India at 63.25%,[38] and in Indonesia at 62.22%[39]) and in the Africa continent with Android at 62.22% (first to gain Android majority in late 2014),[40] with steady gains from 20.98% in August 2012[41] (Egypt at 62.37%,[42] Zimbabwe at 62.04%[42]), and South America at 51.09% in July 2015.[43] (Peru at 52.96%[44]). Asia is at 46%.[45] In Nepal, Android gained majority lead in November 2014 but lost it down to 41.35% with iOS at 56.51%[46] In Taiwan, as of February 2015, Android is on top with 51.31% after losing and gaining majority twice in 2014 up from 18.35 in August 2012.[47] China is a major exception (there Android phablets are much more popular than Android tablets, while similar devices get classified as smartphones) where the iPad/iOS is at 82.84% in March 2015.[48]

Mobile devices[edit]

Mobile operating systems that can be found on smartphones (and some on tablets) include Google's Android (including Kindle variant), Apple's iOS, Microsoft's Windows Phone 7/8/8.1, Nokia's Symbian, BlackBerry's BlackBerry OS, and Samsung's Bada.

Source Date Method Android
(including forks)
iOS BlackBerry Symbian/Series 40 Bada Windows Others
comScore[49] (US only) Jan 2015 US subscribers 53.2% 41.3% 1.8% 0.1% N/A 3.6% N/A
comScore[50] (US only) Jan 2014 US subscribers 51.7% 41.6% 3.1% 0.2% N/A 3.2% N/A
Gartner[51] Q2 2013 Units sold in quarter 79.0% 14.2% 2.7% 0.3% 0.4% 3.3% 0.2%
Gartner[52] Q1 2013 Units sold in quarter 74.4% 18.2% 3.0% 0.6% 0.7% 2.9% 0.3%
International Data Corporation[53] Q2 2014 Units shipped in quarter 84.7% 11.7% 0.5% N/A N/A 2.5% 0.7%
International Data Corporation[54] Q1 2013 Units shipped in quarter 75.0% 17.3% 2.9% 0.6% N/A 3.2% 0.0%
StatCounter Global Stats[55] Mar 2015 Browsing (page view) 61.94% 22.64% NA% 6.00% 1.26% 2.27% 5.83%
StatCounter Global Stats[56] Aug 2014 Browsing (page view) 54.87% 23.57% 1.59% 9.73% 0.14% 2.36% 7.73%
StatCounter Global Stats[57] Feb 2014 Browsing (page view) 47.57% 22.97% 2.62% 14.86% 3.86% 2.22% 2.22%
Wikimedia (includes tablets) Mar 2013 Browsing (page view) 25.93% 66.53% 2.02% 3.03% 0.42% 1.85% 0.7%
Strategy Analytics[58] Q3 2014 Units shipped in quarter 81.3% 13.4% 1.0% N/A N/A 4.1% 0.2%
Table is only showing mobile OS market share – not the overall market share. Wikimedia statistics consider tablets as part of the mobile OS market share.

Crossover to mobile getting more popular[edit]

According to StatCounter web use statistics (a proxy for overall use), on weekends desktops worldwide lose about 5 percent points, e.g. down to 51.46% on 15 August 2015, with the loss in (relative) web use going to mobile (and also a tiny increase for tablets),[59] mostly because Windows 7, ranked 1st on workdays, declines in web use, with it shifting to Android and lesser degree to iOS.[60] Desktop has also been gradually losing relative market share over time.

Two continents, have already crossed over to mobile-majority (because of Android), based on StatCounters web use statistics. In June 2015, Asia became the first continent where mobile overtook desktop[61] (followed by Africa in August;[62] while Nigeria had mobile majority in October 2011,[63][64] because of Symbian – that later had 51% share, then Series 40 dominating, followed by Android as dominating operating system[65]) and as far back as October 2014, they had reported this trend on a large scale in a press release: "Mobile usage has already overtaken desktop in several countries including India, South Africa and Saudi Arabia".[66] In India desktop went from majority, in July 2012, down to 32%.[67] In Bangladesh desktop went from majority, in May 2013, down to 17%, with Android alone now accounting for majority web use.[68] Just a handful of African countries are still desktop-majority[69] and many have a large mobile majority including Ethiopia and Kenya, where mobile usage is over 72%.[70]

The popularity of mobile use worldwide, has been driven by the huge popularity increase of Android in Asian countries, where Android is highest ranked operating system in the statistics in virtually every south-east Asian country[71] while it also ranks most popular in almost every African country. A European country, Poland (and Turkey[72]), has also crossed over because of vastly most popular Android there.[73] Android and mobile browsing in general has also gotten hugely popular in all other continents where desktop has a huge (mostly saturated) desktop base and the trend to mobile is not as clear as a fraction of the total web use.

While some analysts count tablets with desktops (as some of them run Windows), others count them with mobile phones (as the vast majority of tablets run so-called mobile operating systems, such as Android or iOS on the iPad).

In March 2015, for the first time in the US the number of mobile-only adult internet users exceeded the number of desktop-only internet users with 11.6% of the digital population only using mobile compared to 10.6% only using desktop; this also means the majority, 78%, use both desktop and mobile to access the internet.[74]

Public 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[75] or DNS servers on the Internet: the operating systems powering such servers are 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 Unix, Unix-like Microsoft Windows References
All Linux FreeBSD Unknown
W3Techs Feb 2015 67.8% 35.9% 0.95% 30.9% 32.3% [76][77]
Security Space Feb 2014 <79.3% N/A >20.7% [78][79]
W3Cook May 2015 98.3% 96.6% 1.7% 0% 1.7% [80]
W3Techs checked the top ten million web servers daily from June 2013, but W3Techs's definition of "website" differs a bit from Alexa's definition; the "top 10 million" websites are actually fewer than 10 million. W3Techs claims that these difference "have no statistical significance".[81]
W3Cook checks the top one million web servers monthly, taken from the Alexa ranking, using HTTP headers, DNS records, and WHOIS data, among other sources.[82]
Revenue comparisons often include "operating system software, other bundled software"[83] and are not appropriate for usage comparison as the Linux operating system doesn't cost anything (including "other bundled software"), except if optionally using commercial distributions such as Red Hat (in that case, cost of software for all software bundled with hardware has to be known for all operating systems involved, and subtracted). In cases where no-cost Linux is used, such comparisons underestimate Linux server popularity and overestimate other proprietary operating systems such as Windows.


IBM's System z10

The most common operating system for mainframes is IBM's z/OS (according to a 2008 report nearly "95% of Fortune 1000 companies use IBM's Information Management System (IMS) for their critical data management needs"[84]).

Linux as guest on mainframes[edit]

Operating systems for IBM System z generation hardware include IBM's bundled proprietary z/OS,[84] Linux on System z and as of 7 October 2008, the prototype OpenSolaris for System z.

Gartner reported on 23 December 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.[85]

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.[86]
  • Gartner reported at the end of 2008 that Novell had an 80% share of mainframe Linux.[85]


Supercomputer OS family - 1994-2014 systems share according to TOP500[87]

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

Source Date Method Linux Unix Mixed Microsoft Windows BSD based (incl. in Unix) References
TOP500 Nov 2015 Systems share 98.8% 1.2% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% [88]
TOP500 Nov 2015 Performance share 99.09% 0.91% 0.00% 0.00% 0.0% [88]
TOP500 Nov 2014 Systems share 97.0% 2.6% 0.2%[89] 0.2% 0.0% [87]
TOP500 Nov 2014 Performance share 98.23% 1.67% 0.06% 0.06% 0.0% [87]
TOP500 Nov 2013 Systems share 96.4% 2.4% 0.8% 0.4% 0.2% [90]
TOP500 Nov 2013 Performance share 98.0% 1.4% 0.47% 0.13% 0.05% [90]

Market share by category[edit]

Category Source Date Linux Unix and Unix-like Windows In-house Other
Smartphone, tablet, handheld game console, smart TV, Wearable computer StatCounter Global Stats[91] Dec 2014 53.86% (Android) 31.10% (iOS) 1.87% (WP8, RT) 13.17%
Server (web) W3Techs[92] Sep 2014 36.72% (Debian, Ubuntu, CentOS, RHEL, Gentoo) 30.18% (FreeBSD, HP-UX, Solaris, OS X Server) 33.10% (W2K3, W2K8, W2K12)
Supercomputer TOP500[87] Nov 2014 97.0% (Custom) 2.4% (AIX) 0.2% 0.2%
Mainframe Gartner[86] Dec 2008 28% (SLES, RHEL) 72% (z/OS) UNIX System Services
Gaming console Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, Valve Corporation Jun 2013 0% (SteamOS) 29.6% (PS3) 29.5% (Xbox 360) 40.9% (Wii)
Embedded UBM Electronics[93] Mar 2012 29.44% (Android, Other) 4.29% (QNX) 11.65% (WCE 7) 13.5% 41.1%
Real time NewTechPress[94] Nov 2011 19.3% (Android) 35.8% (XPE, WCE) 20.1% 24.8%
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]


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  2. ^ "Top 8 OSs in Africa from Jan to Aug 2015". StatCounter. 6 September 2015. Retrieved 6 September 2015. 
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External links[edit]