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). On 28 May 2015, Google announced that there are 1.4 billion Android users and 1 billion Google play users, active in May 2015.[7][8]


In 2015, eMarketer estimated, in the beginning of the year, that the tablet installed base would hit one billion[9] for the first time (with China's use at 328 million, which Google Play doesn't serve or track, and US' second at 156 million). At the end of the year because of cheap tablets – not counted by all analysts – that goal was met (even excluding cumulative sales of previous years) as:

Sales quintupled to an expected 1 billion units worldwide this year, from 216 million units in 2014, according to projections from the Envisioneering Group.

While that number is far higher than the 200-plus million units globally projected by research firms IDC, Gartner and Forrester, Envisioneering analyst Richard Doherty says the rival estimates miss all the cheap Asian knockoff tablets that have been churning off assembly lines.[..]

Forrester says its definition of tablets "is relatively narrow" while IDC says it includes some tablets by Amazon — but not all.[..]

The top tech purchase of the year continued to be the smartphone, with an expected 1.5 billion sold worldwide, according to projections from researcher IDC. Last year saw some 1.2 billion sold.[..]

Computers didn’t fare as well, despite the introduction of Microsoft’s latest software upgrade, Windows 10, and the expected but not realized bump it would provide for consumers looking to skip the upgrade and just get a new computer instead.

Some 281 million PCs were expected to be sold, according to IDC, down from 308 million in 2014. Folks tend to be happy with the older computers and keep them for longer, as more of our daily computing activities have moved to the smartphone.[..]

While Windows 10 got good reviews from tech critics, only 11% of the 1-billion-plus Windows user base opted to do the upgrade, according to Microsoft. This suggests Microsoft has a ways to go before the software gets "hit" status. Apple's new operating system operating system El Capitan has been downloaded by 25% of Apple's user base, according to Apple.

This conflicts with statistics from IDC, that says the tablet market contracted by 10% in 2015 with only Huawei ranked fifth with big gains, more than doubling their share; for fourth quarter 2015, the top 5 biggest vendors are the same except for Amazon Fire tablets ranked 3rd worldwide, new on the list, enabled by its not quite tippling of market share to 7.9%, with it's Fire OS Android-derivative.[11]

Desktop and laptop computers[edit]

Desktop/Laptop operating system browsing statistics
Windows 7
Windows 10
Windows 8.1
Windows XP
Windows 8
Windows Vista
Chrome OS
Desktop OS market share according to StatCounter for January 2016.[12][13] Android desktops and laptops (low in numbers) are not included in this graph.

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[14] 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.[15] 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.[16]

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%;[17] and India[18]). Conversely OS X in North America claims 17% whereas in Asia it is only 3%.[19]

Web clients[edit]

Web clients' OS family statistics
Linux kernel-based
Apple's iOS & OS X
Web clients' OS family market share according to StatCounter for December 2015.[20][21] 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.

Android currently ranks highest, above Windows 7[22] and has every weekend since August 2015,[23] 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. For further discussion, refer to crossover to mobile getting more popular.

Also since December 2015, iOS is ranked first in Ireland,[24] with in fact Android second, then only Windows 7.

In China, Android has on some days ranked highest, above Windows 7, and every day from 18 September to 20 November 2015[25] (not only weekends[26]) while since then, those two have alternated often. Still, in the Asian continent as a whole, Android has been ranked 1st, for some time now, currently at 38.54%, Windows 7 2nd at 25.52%, iOS 3rd at 7.58%.[27] Since August 2015, Android is ranked 1st in the African continent, when it took a big jump ahead of Windows 7[28] (then topped 48.43%, since declined, still ranked above Windows 7[29]).

Source Date Microsoft Windows: -1.1948.7% Apple: +0.316.33% Linux kernel based: +0.6228.89% Others[a]
10 8/8.1 7 Vista XP WP&RT Other OS X iOS Linux Android Other
StatCounter Global Stats[30] Dec 2015 0.846.67% -0.618.5% -1.3526.66% -0.911.0% -0.114.75% +0.030.92% +0.010.2% +0.185.51% +0.1210.82% +0.051.03% +0.6727.01% 00.85% +0.376.08%
Wikimedia[31] 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[32] 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 'Others' 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,[33] compared to 174 million Android and 5 million Microsoft Windows-based tablets, with others systems under half a million as of March 2014.[34] 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.[35]

According to Strategy Analytics, "In 2015 Android will continue its domination of the global Tablet market",[36] 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."[37] 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[34] 2013 61.9% 36.0% 2.1% <0.1%
Strategy Analytics[38][39] Q1 2013 43.4% 48.2% 7.5% 0.9%
Gartner[34] 2012 45.8% 52.8% 1.0% 0.3%
Global tablet web usage
Source Date iOS Android Linux Win. RT BlackBerry Others
StatCounter[40] Jul 2015 65.51% 31.36% 2.57% 0.78% 0.2% 0.16%
StatCounter[41] Feb 2015 66.47% 29.6% 2.48% 1.16% 0.17% 0.08%
StatCounter[42] Oct 2014 71.67% 25.62% 2.31% 0.08% 0.19% 0.13%

As of 2016, in South America, Android tablets have gained majority,[43] with Asia also close, batteling iPad that sunk to it's lowest 49.05% in October 2015.[44] In Africa, iPad has long lost the battle and elsewhere the iPad has a safe margin.

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);[45] 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%,[46] and in Indonesia at 62.22%[47]) and in the African continent with Android at 62.22% (first to gain Android majority in late 2014),[48] with steady gains from 20.98% in August 2012[49] (Egypt at 62.37%,[50] Zimbabwe at 62.04%[50]), and South America at 51.09% in July 2015.[51] (Peru at 52.96%[52]). Asia is at 46%.[53] In Nepal, Android gained majority lead in November 2014 but lost it down to 41.35% with iOS at 56.51%[54] 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.[55] 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.[56]

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[57] (US only) Jan 2015 US subscribers 53.2% 41.3% 1.8% 0.1% N/A 3.6% N/A
comScore[58] (US only) Jan 2014 US subscribers 51.7% 41.6% 3.1% 0.2% N/A 3.2% N/A
Gartner[59] Q2 2013 Units sold in quarter 79.0% 14.2% 2.7% 0.3% 0.4% 3.3% 0.2%
Gartner[60] Q1 2013 Units sold in quarter 74.4% 18.2% 3.0% 0.6% 0.7% 2.9% 0.3%
International Data Corporation[61] Q2 2014 Units shipped in quarter 84.7% 11.7% 0.5% N/A N/A 2.5% 0.7%
International Data Corporation[62] Q1 2013 Units shipped in quarter 75.0% 17.3% 2.9% 0.6% N/A 3.2% 0.0%
StatCounter Global Stats[63] Mar 2015 Browsing (page view) 61.94% 22.64% NA% 6.00% 1.26% 2.27% 5.83%
StatCounter Global Stats[64] Aug 2014 Browsing (page view) 54.87% 23.57% 1.59% 9.73% 0.14% 2.36% 7.73%
StatCounter Global Stats[65] 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[66] 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),[67] mostly because Windows 7, ranked 1st on workdays, declines in web use, with it shifting to Android and lesser degree to iOS.[68] 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[69] (followed by Africa in August;[70] while Nigeria had mobile majority in October 2011,[71][72] because of Symbian – that later had 51% share, then Series 40 dominating, followed by Android as dominating operating system[73]) 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".[74] In India desktop went from majority, in July 2012, down to 32%.[75] In Bangladesh desktop went from majority, in May 2013, down to 17%, with Android alone now accounting for majority web use.[76] Just a handful of African countries are still desktop-majority[77] and many have a large mobile majority including Ethiopia and Kenya, where mobile usage is over 72%.[78]

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[79] while it also ranks most popular in almost every African country. A European country, Poland (and Turkey[80] while desktop gained a bare desktop-majority again[81]), has also crossed over, and been desktop-minority since April 2015,[82] because of vastly most popular Android there.[83] South America continent is a little far of losing desktop-majority, but the first country there, Paraguay, has lost it as of March 2015, regained, lost again, and currently desktop is at 43%.[82] 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.[84]

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[85] 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% [86][87]
Security Space Feb 2014 <79.3% N/A >20.7% [88][89]
W3Cook May 2015 98.3% 96.6% 1.7% 0% 1.7% [90]
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".[91]
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.[92]
Revenue comparisons often include "operating system software, other bundled software"[93] 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"[94]).

Linux as guest on mainframes[edit]

Operating systems for IBM System z generation hardware include IBM's bundled proprietary z/OS,[94] 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.[95]

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.[96]
  • Gartner reported at the end of 2008 that Novell had an 80% share of mainframe Linux.[95]


Supercomputer OS family - 1994-2014 systems share according to TOP500[97]

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% [98]
TOP500 Nov 2015 Performance share 99.09% 0.91% 0.00% 0.00% 0.0% [98]
TOP500 Nov 2014 Systems share 97.0% 2.6% 0.2%[99] 0.2% 0.0% [97]
TOP500 Nov 2014 Performance share 98.23% 1.67% 0.06% 0.06% 0.0% [97]
TOP500 Nov 2013 Systems share 96.4% 2.4% 0.8% 0.4% 0.2% [100]
TOP500 Nov 2013 Performance share 98.0% 1.4% 0.47% 0.13% 0.05% [100]

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[101] Dec 2014 53.86% (Android) 31.10% (iOS) 1.87% (WP8, RT) 13.17%
Server (web) W3Techs[102] 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[98] Nov 2015 98.8% (Custom) 1.2%
Mainframe Gartner[96] Dec 2008 28% (SLES, RHEL) 72% (z/OS) UNIX System Services
Gaming console (excluding Android) Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, Valve Corporation Jun 2013 0% (SteamOS) 29.6% (PS3) 29.5% (Xbox 360) 40.9% (Wii)
Embedded UBM Electronics[103] Mar 2012 29.44% (Android, Other) 4.29% (QNX) 11.65% (WCE 7) 13.5% 41.1%
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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External links[edit]