Usage share of operating systems
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.
There are "three big personal computing platforms", two of which claim over 1.4 billion users, Android and Windows. Another one, Apple's iOS, has at least 800 million, but Apple claims just over 1 billion when its (much lower) OS X platform numbers are combined with iOSs.
Windows has been described as a "dominant" OS (and still does as a "desktop OS"). Android has recently been described as a "dominant" OS, selling best in recent years. On smartphones it is dominant by any metric. It is unclear if its installed base tops Windows at this point; at least by web use, as a proxy for all use, it has almost caught up when counted across all platforms. No operating system has a clear majority across all platforms and all regions. Which OS ranks highest varies greatly across the world; Android is the most popular OS in large parts of the world (makings mobiles a majority overtaking desktops there), e.g. in Asia and Africa. Since 2013, devices running Android have been selling more than Windows, iOS and OS X devices combined. That makes Android the most popular operating system that runs on smartphones, while iOS is more used on tablets. In certain categories, one family of operating systems dominates, for example, most desktop and laptop computers use Microsoft Windows, while virtually all supercomputers use Linux. In the servers category, there is more diversity, with Linux and Windows Server most popular, and much fewer mainframes. 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.
- 1 Worldwide device shipments
- 2 Web clients
- 3 Mobile devices
- 4 Desktop and laptop computers
- 5 Public servers on the Internet
- 6 Mainframes
- 7 Supercomputers
- 8 Market share by category
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Worldwide device shipments
|Gartner||2015||1.3 billion (54%)||297 million (12.3%)
||283 million (11.7%)||~520 million (21.6%)|
Note that shipments (to stores) do not mean sales to consumers (not necessarily in the year of shipment), so the use of the numbers as a popularity guide could be misleading.
For 2015 (and earlier), Gartner reports for "the year, worldwide PC shipments declined for the fourth consecutive year, which started in 2012 with the launch of tablets" with 8% decline in PC sales for 2015 (not including cumulative decline in sales over the previous years). Gartner includes Macs (running OS X) in PC sales numbers (but not e.g. iPads and Androids), and they individually had a slight increase in sales in 2015.
On 22 October 2015, Microsoft reported Windows 10 running on 110 million devices 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.
On 27 January 2016, Paul Thurrott summarized the operating system market, the day after Apple announced "one billion devices":
Apple’s “active installed base” is now one billion devices. [..] Granted, some of those Apple devices were probably sold into the market place years ago. But that 1 billion figure can and should be compared to the numbers Microsoft touts for Windows 10 (200 million, most recently) or Windows more generally (1.5 billion active users, a number that hasn’t moved, magically, in years), and that Google touts for Android (over 1.4 billion, as of September). My understanding of iOS is that the user base was previously thought to be around 800 million strong, and when you factor out Macs and other non-iOS Apple devices, that’s probably about right. But as you can see, there are three big personal computing platforms.
By late 2016, Android (e.g. Samsung's smarphones that sell better Apple's) has been explained to be "killing" Apple's iOS market share (i.e. its declining sales of smartphones, not just relatively but also by number of units, when the whole market is increasing) with
the gap between the two is growing ever larger all the time.
According to Gartner, Android now boasts a global market share of 86.2 percent. Apple’s iOS is a long way behind with a market share of just 12.9 percent. The rest may as well not even exist [..]
These figures, which cover the second quarter of 2016, show that Android has actually increased its market share by 4 percent over the last year. All other operating systems are down, with iOS losing 1.7 percent [..]
OK, so iOS is losing ground, but Apple is still the biggest smartphone vendor, right? Wrong. Samsung takes that crown, with a global market share of 22.3 percent. Apple is languishing in second with 12.9 percent [..]I think it’s fair to declare Android the winner in the mobile operating wars at this point.— makeuseof.com
Actually Gartner's own press release said, "Apple continued its downward trend with a decline of 7.7 percent in the second quarter of 2016", which is their decline, based on absolute number of units, that underestimates the relative decline (with the market increasing), along with the misleading "1.7 percent [point]" decline. That point decline actually means a 11.6% relative decline (from 14.6% down to 12.9%).
In 2015, eMarketer estimated, in the beginning of the year, that the tablet installed base would hit one billion 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 its Fire OS Android-derivative.
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 and has every weekend since August 2015, 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 more popular.
Also, since January 2016, iOS is ranked first (and since mid-May in the US and in North America as a whole) in Australia, the UK and other European countries, e.g. most Nordic ones, such as Sweden. Note again, that iOS includes many versions, while Windows 10 (that is almost top ranked in Denmark) and Windows 7 are counted individually.
"Unknown" operating system (distinct from "Other", and with all of Microsoft's and Apple's accounted for) has measured up to 50% at StatCounter. In India 10% of desktop computers reported with the "Unknown" operating system, while mobile has ranged from 11% to 9%, so it's a possibility that those 10% of "desktops" are actually mobiles asking for a desktop-versions of web pages. Another possibility would be that they are non-Windows running PCs, possibly running Android). "Unknown" has been on a huge rise in Madagascar for over a year (while there unlike India, desktop "Unknown" is only at around 3%, while mobile "Unknown" up to 50%.), having market share as far back as 2013, topped Android in November 2015 and was for long highest ranked. "Unknown" is likely to be a variant of Android (rise correlates with Android) and then, in May 2016 its share at 36.28% plus Android's 27.93%, would make for 64.21% market share of Android and variants, that StatCounter doesn't correctly identify yet. "Unknown" is also ranked 3rd in India (distinct from Series 40 and other non-smartphones operating systems).
In China, Android is highest ranked since January 2016; had earlier only been highest ranked on some days, above Windows 7, and every day from 18 September to 20 November 2015 (not only weekends) while since then, those two have alternated often. Still, in the Asian continent as a whole, Android has been ranked first, for a year now, as of March 2016[update] at 42.25%. Since August 2015 – Android is ranked first, at 48.36% in May 2016, in the African continent – when it took a big jump ahead of Windows 7, and thereby making Africa join Asia as a mobile-majority continent. China is no longer a desktop-majority country, joins India, that actually has a huge mobile-majority, and then just confirms Asia's huge mobile-majority.
Online usage of Unix-like kernel derivatives (Apple systems + Google systems + GNU/Linux) is now higher than Windows online usage. This change occurred between January and April 2016, according to W3Counter, and StatCounter.
|Source||Date||Microsoft Windows: 42.6%||Apple: 17.06%||Linux kernel based: 34.2%||Others[a]|
|StatCounter Global Stats||July 2016[update]||11.78%||5.64%||20.36%||0.66%||3.19%||0.85%||0.12%||4.81%||12.25%||0.96%||32.48%||0.58%||6.34%|
|StatCounter Global Stats||May 2016[update]||10.27%||6.68%||22.25%||0.73%||3.44%||0.83%||0.8%||5.05%||11.38%||0.91%||31.6%||0.64%||6.15%|
|StatCounter Global Stats||Dec 2015[update]||6.67%||8.5%||26.66%||1.0%||4.75%||0.92%||0.2%||5.51%||10.82%||1.03%||27.01%||0.36%||6.57%|
- The 'Others' column is obtained by summing all percentage data and subtracting from 100%.
By late 2016, mobile operating systems that can be found on smartphones, include Google's dominant Android (and variants, such as Fire OS on Amazon's devices) and Apple's iOS as the only big competitor, with both combined at c. 90% market share. Other competitors have either given up or have below 2% market share, as with Microsoft with their phone offerings.
These same dominant operating systems also run on tablets, where they have no serious competitors, except Microsoft Windows, at least with any tablet market share to speak of. Windows tablets may not get classified as such by some analysts, and thus barely register; e.g. 2-in-1 PCs may get classified as "desktops", not tablets. These computers have had increasing market share, by sales, but not a big installed base yet as it's a rather new category (and pure Windows tablets, weren't historically successful).
According to research by TestImpulse, there is a a clear correlation between the GDP per capita of a country and that country's respective smartphone OS market share, suggesting that people in richer countries are more likely to choose (expensive) iPhones (or expensive Android's, would also be the implication).
Mobile operating systems for phones (and tablets) with low market share or out of the race include: Microsoft's Windows Phone 7/8/8.1/Windows 10 Mobile, BlackBerry's BlackBerry OS, Nokia's Symbian, and Samsung's Bada.
|This article needs to be updated. (September 2016)|
|comScore (US only)||Jan 2015||US subscribers||53.2%||41.3%||1.8%||0.1%||N/A||3.6%||N/A|
|comScore (US only)||Jan 2014||US subscribers||51.7%||41.6%||3.1%||0.2%||N/A||3.2%||N/A|
|Gartner||Q2 2013||Units sold in quarter||79.0%||14.2%||2.7%||0.3%||0.4%||3.3%||0.2%|
|Gartner||Q1 2013||Units sold in quarter||74.4%||18.2%||3.0%||0.6%||0.7%||2.9%||0.3%|
|International Data Corporation||Q2 2014||Units shipped in quarter||84.7%||11.7%||0.5%||N/A||N/A||2.5%||0.7%|
|International Data Corporation||Q1 2013||Units shipped in quarter||75.0%||17.3%||2.9%||0.6%||N/A||3.2%||0.0%|
|StatCounter Global Stats||Mar 2015||Browsing (page view)||61.94%||22.64%||NA%||6.00%||1.26%||2.27%||5.83%|
|StatCounter Global Stats||Aug 2014||Browsing (page view)||54.87%||23.57%||1.59%||9.73%||0.14%||2.36%||7.73%|
|StatCounter Global Stats||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||Q3 2014||Units shipped in quarter||81.3%||13.4%||1.0%||N/A||N/A||4.1%||0.2%|
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, compared to 174 million Android and 5 million Microsoft Windows-based tablets, with others systems under half a million as of March 2014. 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.
As of 2016[update], in South America (and Cuba in North America), Android tablets have gained majority, and in Asia Android is also even to iPad that sank to its lowest 49.05% in October 2015. In Africa, iPad has long lost the battle and elsewhere the iPad has a safe margin.
As of March 2015[update], 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); 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%, and in Indonesia at 62.22%) and in the African continent with Android at 62.22% (first to gain Android majority in late 2014), with steady gains from 20.98% in August 2012 (Egypt at 62.37%, Zimbabwe at 62.04%), and South America at 51.09% in July 2015. (Peru at 52.96%). Asia is at 46%. In Nepal, Android gained majority lead in November 2014 but lost it down to 41.35% with iOS at 56.51% 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. 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.
Crossover to mobile more popular
According to StatCounter, big parts of the world are now desktop-minority, and the whole world dips down to desktop-minority for some weeks, because smartphone use is very strong on weekends (however mobile-majority without tablets has still not happened in all the world combined).
The world was desktop-minority, for a full three weeks in July 2016, while whole of July 2016, showed desktop-majority. The biggest continents, Asia and Africa, have been mobile-majority for long time, as well as several individual countries elsewhere have also turned mobile-majority: Poland, Albania (and Turkey) in Europe and Paraguay and Bolivia in South America.
According to StatCounter's web use statistics, Saturday 28 May 2016, was the day when smartphones ("mobile" at StatCounter, than now counts tablets separately) became a most used platform, ranking first, at 47.27%, above desktops. The next day, desktops slightly outnumbered "mobile" (unless counting tablets with; some analysts count tablets with smartphones or separately while others with desktops – even when most tablets are iPad or Android, not Windows devices).
Since Sunday 27 March 2016, the first day the world dipped to desktop-minority, it has happened almost every week, with by week 11–17 July 2016, the world was desktop-minority, followed by the next week, and in fact also for a three-week period. The trend is still stronger on weekends, with e.g. 17 July 2016 showed desktop at 44.67%, "mobile" at 49.5% plus tablets at 5.7%. Recent weekly data shows a downward trend for desktops.
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), mostly because Windows 7, ranked 1st on workdays, declines in web use, with it shifting to Android and lesser degree to iOS.
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 (followed by Africa in August; while Nigeria had mobile majority in October 2011, because of Symbian – that later had 51% share, then Series 40 dominating, followed by Android as dominating operating system) 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". In India desktop went from majority, in July 2012, down to 32%. In Bangladesh desktop went from majority, in May 2013, down to 17%, with Android alone now accounting for majority web use. Just a handful of African countries are still desktop-majority and many have a large mobile majority including Ethiopia and Kenya, where mobile usage is over 72%.
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 while it also ranks most popular in almost every African country. Poland has been desktop-minority since April 2015, because of vastly most popular Android there, and other European countries, such as Albania (and Turkey), have also crossed over. South America continent is a little far of losing desktop-majority, but the first country there, Paraguay, has lost it as of March 2015[update]. 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). iPad has a clear lead globally, but not e.g. in Asia (while in many individual countries there), where it has lost majority twice (with Android getting it once), but gaining majority back. Android on tablets also has majority in most South American countries, African and thus those continents, a number of European countries, but not that continent as a whole and is second most popular in other countries.
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. Few smaller countries in North America, such as Haiti (because of Android) have gone mobile majority (mobile went to up to 72.35%, and is at 64.43% in February 2016).
Desktop and laptop computers
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 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. 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.
Web analysis shows significant variation in different parts of the world. For example, in North America usage of Windows XP has dropped to 3.25% (2.97% in the US), but in Africa it is still at 12.98% and Asia at 8.59% (even higher in China, at 23%) while going down, and has been overtaken by Windows 10. Conversely, OS X in North America claims 16.82% (17.52% in the US) whereas in Asia it is only 4.4%.
According to a Stack Overflow "Developer Survey Results 2016" survey, English-speaking users "Desktop Operating System"-preference for development use is (and "by next year's survey fewer than 50% of developers may be using Windows" that is for 2017):
|Year||Microsoft Windows: 52.02%||Apple: 26.2%||Linux kernel based: 21.7%|
Desktop computer games
Video game platform Steam has been publishing their monthly "Hardware & Software Survey". Most 'free' Desktop games are still Windows-only, and therefore Wine is used to emulate the "Windows Steam" program, which possibly reports Windows as the platform. The "Windows Steam" program also runs on React OS, an Open source imitation of Windows. So, these statistics show which Desktop platform's games are most played:
|Month||Microsoft Windows||Mac OS||Linux||Other|
|Month||Windows 2000||XP 32-bit||XP 64-bit||2003 64-bit||Vista 32-bit||Vista 64-bit||7||7 64-bit||8||8 64-bit||8.1||8.1 64-bit||10||10 64-bit|
|OS X statistics†|
^† These figures are aggregates of the figures reported by Steam, and do not include Steam OS statistics. Also, the statistics reported do not include lesser-used versions, so these figures should be viewed as the minimum usage. The versions listed below each percentage show which figures were included.
Public servers on the Internet
Internet based servers' market share can be measured with statistical surveys of publicly accessible servers, such as web servers, mail servers 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. 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|
|Security Space||Feb 2014||<79.3%||N/A||>20.7%|||
- Revenue comparisons often include "operating system software, other bundled software" 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.
Linux as guest on mainframes
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.
- 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.
- Gartner reported at the end of 2008 that Novell had an 80% share of mainframe Linux.
|Source||Date||Method||Linux||Unix||Mixed||Microsoft Windows||BSD based (incl. in Unix)||References|
|TOP500||Jun 2016||Systems share||99.40%||0.6%||0.0%||0.0%||0.0%|||
|TOP500||Jun 2016||Performance share||99.79%||0.21%||0.00%||0.00%||0.0%|||
|TOP500||Nov 2015||Systems share||98.8%||1.2%||0.0%||0.0%||0.0%|||
|TOP500||Nov 2015||Performance share||99.09%||0.91%||0.00%||0.00%||0.0%|||
|TOP500||Nov 2014||Systems share||97.0%||2.6%||0.2%||0.2%||0.0%|||
|TOP500||Nov 2014||Performance share||98.23%||1.67%||0.06%||0.06%||0.0%|||
|TOP500||Nov 2013||Systems share||96.4%||2.4%||0.8%||0.4%||0.2%|||
|TOP500||Nov 2013||Performance share||98.0%||1.4%||0.47%||0.13%||0.05%|||
|Category||Source||Date||Linux||Unix and Unix-like||Windows||In-house||Other|
|Desktop, laptop, netbook (excluding Android)||Net Applications||July 2016||2.33% (Ubuntu, etc.)||7.87% (OS X)||89.79% (10, 8.1, 7, Vista, XP and older down to Windows 3.1 )|
|Smartphone, tablet, handheld game console, smart TV, Wearable computer||StatCounter Global Stats||May 2016||64.89% (Android)||23.56% (iOS)||1.7% (WP, RT)||9.86%|
|Server (web)||W3Techs||Sep 2014||36.72% (Debian, Ubuntu, CentOS, RHEL, Gentoo)||30.18% (AIX, FreeBSD, HP-UX, Solaris, OS X Server)||33.10% (W2K3, W2K8, W2K12)|
|Supercomputer||TOP500||Jun 2016||99.79% (Custom)||0.21%|
|Mainframe||Gartner||Dec 2008||28% (SLES, RHEL)||72% (z/OS) UNIX System Services|
|Gaming console||StatCounter Global Stats||Jun 2016||0% (Steam Machine)
0% (Android consoles, note lots of gaming is done on Android non-consoles)
|70.78% (PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3)||23.28% (Xbox One, Xbox 360)||5.94% (Wii U, Wii)||0%|
|Embedded||UBM Electronics||Mar 2012||29.44% (Android plus other non-Android Linux)||4.29% (QNX)||11.65% (WCE 7)||13.5% ("Inhouse/custom" is most popular, single choice)||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.
- Gaming console numbers above show PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo (and Android, Linux etc.) categories that are inferred to include all the variants of those consoles. These are the only ones tracked that show popularity, but even these numbers might be rather meaningless for predicting use of consoles for gaming, as StatCounter only tracks web use, and it may not be a good proxy for it.
- Comparison of operating systems
- List of operating systems
- Timeline of operating systems
- Usage share of BitTorrent clients
- Usage share of web browsers
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