Usage share of operating systems

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Development of desktop OS market shares at German website ComputerBase since 2002
Worldwide Operating Systems December 2016 map[1]

The usage share of operating systems is the percentage of the operating systems used in computing devices (approximately market share, also discussed in the article).

There are "three big personal computing platforms",[2] two of which claim over 1.4 billion users, Android and Windows. Another one, Apple's iOS and macOS, combined have over 1 billion users.[2] Historically the desktop, meaning mainframes were dominant, then Macintosh desktops became dominant, then Windows desktops became dominant. Now, the mobile-era is taking over, and the market share by desktop computers (including macOS) is down to 45.22%, as of January 2017.[3]

Different categories of computers use a wide variety of operating systems (OS). Windows gained majority usage share in the 1990s, on desktops (the computer platform then taking over), eventually described as "dominant" (and still has a majority as a "desktop OS") but is not dominant across all platforms (while latest version runs on all platforms). On smartphones, Android is dominant by any metric; its installed base is 1.8 billion,[4] which tops Windows on PCs. No operating system has a clear majority across all platforms or all regions; as judged by web use – a proxy for all use – Android has almost caught up with Windows, when counted across all platforms and regions. Android is the highest ranked OS in most countries of the world (even a few in Europe, such as Poland with majority use);[5] leading to it (with some help from other mobile operating systems such as Apple's) eventually, in late-2016, making the world smartphone-majority. Android alone explains that to a large degree, smartphones alone have majority use, where Android is dominant. Android has over half the usage share across platforms (even with it not used much on desktops) in the two biggest continents (and most populous with 76% combined), Africa[6] and Asia.[7] For brief periods, countries on other continents, such as the United States, have lost desktops-majority share; that has also happened for South America.[8]

Since 2013, devices running Android have been selling more than Windows, iOS and macOS devices combined. That made Android the most popular operating system that runs on smartphones, while iOS is more used on tablets. Most desktop and laptop computers use Microsoft Windows, while virtually all supercomputers (and for over a decade back) 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.

Worldwide device shipments[edit]

Device Shipments, 2015
OS Device Shipments, Gartner[9]

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/macOS Windows Others
Gartner[9] 2015 1.3 billion (54%) 297 million (12.3%)
macOS = 21 million
283 million (11.7%) ~520 million (21.6%)
Gartner[10] 2014 48.61% 11.04% 14.0% 26.34%
Gartner[11] 2013 38.51% 10.12% 13.98% 37.41%
Gartner[12] 2012 22.8% 9.6% 15.62% 51.98%

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).[13] Gartner includes Macs (running macOS) in PC sales numbers (but not e.g. iPads and Androids), and they individually had a slight increase in sales in 2015.

On 28 May 2015, Google announced that there are 1.4 billion Android users and 1 billion Google play users, active in May 2015.[14][15]

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.

On 26 September 2016, Microsoft reported Windows 10 running on over 400 million devices,[16] roughly half their goal of 1 billion (in 2–3 years from launch).

By late 2016, Android (e.g. Samsung's smartphones) 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.

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",[18] 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%).

That said, although in units sold Apple is declining, they are virtually the only vendor making any profit in the smartphone sector from hardware sales alone. In Q3 2016 for example, they captured 103.6% of the market profits.[19]


In 2015, eMarketer estimated, in the beginning of the year, that the tablet installed base would hit one billion[20] 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 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 trippling of market share to 7.9%, with its Fire OS Android-derivative.[22]

Web clients[edit]

Web clients' OS family statistics
Android (or based on)
Apple's iOS
Apple's macOS
Linux kernel-based (exl. Android)
Web clients' OS family market share according to StatCounter for December 2016.[23] The information on web clients is obtained from user agent information obtained through JavaScript code run by web browsers supplied to web servers. "Unknown" is likely Android-derivative operating systems. 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, with Windows 7 coming in 2nd. iOS and Windows 10 are competing at 12%, while GNU/Linux and Windows mobile systems are competing at below 1%.[24]

In a number of developed countries, such as in the UK, the mobile operating systems Android and iOS rank highest, and combined are above Microsoft Windows (the operating system formerly considered dominant).[25] In the United States, they also rank high; there all versions of Windows combined have under 50% usage share.[26]

In seven European countries, e.g. Spain (31.62%), Ireland (21.15%), Italy (23.35%), Poland (55.22%) Android is highest ranked; in addition in three, the UK (24.93%), Sweden, Switzerland (25.98%) iOS is highest ranked. In the rest it's either Windows 7 – or increasingly Windows 10, in 11 countries, including France.[27]

In Europe as a whole the rank is Android, Windows 7, Windows 10, iOS, macOS. Note, Android and iOS include all versions. While Android ranks higher than either Windows 7 or Windows 10 in Europe, it doesn't rank higher than them combined; however globally Android does outnumber Windows 7 plus Windows 10; it in fact rivals all of Windows market share combined.

Also, since January 2016, iOS is ranked first (and since mid-May in the US[28] and in North America as a whole) in Australia,[29] the UK[30] and other European countries,[31] e.g. most Nordic ones, such as Sweden.[32] 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 73% at StatCounter, for some countries.[33] In India, up to 17% and down to about 3% currently of desktop computers have been reported with the "Unknown" operating system,[34] while mobile has ranged from 11% to 9%, so it's a possibility that those "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%,[35] while mobile "Unknown" up to 50%.[36]), having market share as far back as 2013, topped Android in November 2015 and was for long highest ranked.[37] "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 other non-smartphones operating systems).[38]

In China, Android is highest ranked since January 2016;[39][40] had earlier only been highest ranked on some days, above Windows 7, and every day from 18 September to 20 November 2015[41] (not only weekends[42]) 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 at 42.25%.[43] 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,[44] and thereby making Africa join Asia as a mobile-majority continent. China is no longer a desktop-majority country,[45] joins India, that actually has a huge mobile-majority, and then just confirms Asia's huge mobile-majority.

Online usage of Linux kernel derivatives (Google systems + GNU/Linux) exceeds that of Windows. This has been true since some time between January and April 2016, according to W3Counter[46] and StatCounter.[47] But even before that, the figure for all Unix-like OSes, including those from Apple, was higher than that for Windows.

Source Date Microsoft Windows: -1.338.31% Apple: -0.1317.63% Linux kernel based: +1.5339.38% Others[a]
10 8/8.1 7 Vista XP WP&RT Other macOS iOS Linux Android Other
StatCounter Global Stats[48] Dec 2016 -0.1512.5% -0.254.79% -0.7618% -0.060.46% -0.072.24% -0.020.64% 00.09% -0.34.92% +0.4312.71% 00.86% +1.5237.8% +0.010.72% -0.374.61%
StatCounter Global Stats[49] Oct 2016 -0.1812.08% -0.225.21% -0.8218.97% -0.020.6% -0.32.44% -0.160.7% +0.010.05% -0.235.3% +0.1712.04% -0.090.85% +1.6234.46% -0.010.63% -0.266.67%
StatCounter Global Stats[50] May 2016 0.6910.27% -0.646.68% -1.5822.25% -0.060.73% -0.553.44% +0.020.83% -0.020.8% -0.045.05% +0.2611.38% -0.080.91% +1.731.6% 0.20.64% 0.316.15%
StatCounter Global Stats[51] 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% 00.36% 6.57%
Wikimedia[52] Jul 2016 14.0% 5.0% 21.0% 0.58% 2.30% 1.06% 0.46% 4.90% 18.0% 1.01% 21.0% 0.15% 11%
Wikimedia[53] Dec 2016 14.0% 4.65% 18.0% 0.43% 1.70% 0.93% 0.50% 5.4% 19.0% 0.80% 23.0% 0.30% 11.29%
W3Counter[54] Dec 2016 -1.4313.79 -0.644.54% -0.3118.45% NA[b] NA NA NA -0.444.45% -0.0812.60% +0.663.8% +6.5634.37% NA -1.078%
  1. ^ The 'Others' column is obtained by summing all percentage data and subtracting from 100%.
  2. ^ NA: data Not Available

Desktop and laptop computers[edit]

Circle frame.svg

Desktop usage share has decreased to 44.74%[55]

  Phone (50.25%)
  Desktop/Laptop (44.74%)
  Tablet (4.89%)
  Game Console (0.12%)
Desktop/Laptop operating system browsing statistics
Windows 7
Windows 10
macOS (all versions)
Windows 8.1
Windows XP
Windows 8
Windows Vista
Chrome OS (Linux)
Other Windows
down to Windows 98 reported
Desktop OS market share according to StatCounter for January 2017.[56][57]

There is little openly published information on the device shipments 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[58] basing its estimate on web use (although this may not be very accurate). 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.[59] 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.[60]

It's been noticed, by media, that the usage share of Microsoft's latest client operating system – Windows 10 – has been slowly increasing, for months now (while Windows 7 has had a slight decrease at the same time), since July/August 2016, currently at around 27.15%.[61][62] Some link it to Windows 10 no longer being a free upgrade.

Web analysis shows significant variation in different parts of the world. For example, in North America usage of Windows XP has dropped to 2.06%, but in Africa it is still at 11.02%[63] and Asia at 6.63%[64] (even higher in China, but down to down to 18.21%, tied with Win10 at second[65]) while going down, and has been overtaken by Windows 10. Conversely, macOS in North America claims 16.82%[66] (17.52%[67] in the US) whereas in Asia it is only 4.4%.[68]

According to a Stack Overflow "Web Developer Survey Results 2016" survey, English-speaking users' "Desktop Operating System"-preference for web-development use is the following (and "by next year's survey fewer than 50% of developers may be using Windows"—that is, for 2017):[69]

Year Microsoft Windows: 52.02% Apple: 26.2% Linux kernel based: 21.7%
10 8/8.1 7 Vista XP macOS Ubuntu Fedora Mint Debian
2016 20.8% 8.4% 22.5% 0.1% 0.4% 26.2% 12.3% 1.4% 1.7% 1.9%

Desktop computer games[edit]

Video game platform Steam has been publishing their monthly "Hardware & Software Survey". Most Desktop games are still Windows-only, and therefore Wine is used to emulate the "Windows Steam" program, which possibly[70] 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
January 2016[71] 95.39% 3.55% 0.95%
January 2015[72] 95.48% 3.32% 1.09%
January 2014[73] 94.93% 3.47% 0.86% 0.74%

^† These figures are aggregates of the figures reported by Steam, and do not include Steam OS statistics.[74] 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.

Mobile devices[edit]

By late 2016, mobile operating systems that can be found on smartphones,[75] 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. 99% market share. Other competitors have either given up or have below 1% 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 clear correlation between the GDP per capita of a country and that country's respective smartphone OS market share,[76] suggesting that people in richer countries are more likely to choose (expensive) iPhones (or expensive Android's, would also be the implication).

Source Date Method Android
(including forks)
iOS Windows
(all versions)
(all versions)
Symbian Others
Gartner[77] Q3 2016 Units sold in quarter 87.8% 11.5% 0.4% 0.1% N/A 0.2%
Gartner[78] Q2 2016 Units sold in quarter 86.2% 12.9% 0.6% 0.1% N/A 0.2%
comScore[79] (US only) Jan 2016 US subscribers 52.8% 43.6% 2.7% 0.8% N/A N/A
Gartner[80] Q1 2016 Units sold in quarter 84.1% 14.8% 0.7% 0.2% N/A 0.2%
comScore[81] (US only) Jan 2015 US subscribers 53.2% 41.3% 3.6% 1.8% 0.1% N/A
comScore[82] (US only) Jan 2014 US subscribers 51.7% 41.6% 3.2% 3.1% 0.2% N/A
Gartner[83] Q2 2013 Units sold in quarter 79.0% 14.2% 3.3% 2.7% 0.3% 0.6%
Gartner[84] Q1 2013 Units sold in quarter 74.4% 18.2% 2.9% 3.0% 0.6% 1.0%
International Data Corporation[85] Q2 2014 Units shipped in quarter 84.7% 11.7% 2.5% 0.5% N/A 0.7%
International Data Corporation[86] Q1 2013 Units shipped in quarter 75.0% 17.3% 3.2% 2.9% 0.6% 0.0%
StatCounter Global Stats[87] Mar 2015 Browsing (page view) 61.94% 22.64% 2.27% NA% 6.00% 7.09%
StatCounter Global Stats[88] Aug 2014 Browsing (page view) 54.87% 23.57% 2.36% 1.59% 9.73% 7.87%
StatCounter Global Stats[89] Feb 2014 Browsing (page view) 47.57% 22.97% 2.22% 2.62% 14.86% 6.08%
Wikimedia (includes tablets) Mar 2013 Browsing (page view) 25.93% 66.53% 1.85% 2.02% 3.03% 1.12%
Strategy Analytics[90] Q3 2014 Units shipped in quarter 81.3% 13.4% 4.1% 1.0% N/A 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.

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,[91] compared to 174 million Android and 5 million Microsoft Windows-based tablets, with others systems under half a million as of March 2014.[92] 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.[93]

Global shipments ("shipments refer to sell-in", that is, wholesale)
Source Date Android iOS Windows Others
Strategy Analytics[94] 2015 68% 22% 10% <0.1%
Gartner[92] 2013 61.9% 36.0% 2.1% <0.1%
Gartner[92] 2012 45.8% 52.8% 1.0% 0.3%
Global tablet web usage
Source Date iOS Android Linux Windows RT BlackBerry Others
StatCounter[95] Jul 2015 65.51% 31.36% 2.57% 0.78% 0.2% 0.16%
StatCounter[96] Feb 2015 66.47% 29.6% 2.48% 1.16% 0.17% 0.08%
StatCounter[97] Oct 2014 71.67% 25.62% 2.31% 0.08% 0.19% 0.13%

As of 2016, in South America (and Cuba[98] in North America), Android tablets have gained majority,[99] and in Asia Android is also even to iPad that sank to its lowest 49.05% in October 2015.[100][101][102] 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);[103] 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%,[104] and in Indonesia at 62.22%[105]) and in the African continent with Android at 62.22% (first to gain Android majority in late 2014),[106] with steady gains from 20.98% in August 2012[107] (Egypt at 62.37%,[108] Zimbabwe at 62.04%[108]), and South America at 51.09% in July 2015.[109] (Peru at 52.96%[110]). Asia is at 46%.[111] In Nepal, Android gained majority lead in November 2014 but lost it down to 41.35% with iOS at 56.51%.[112] In Taiwan, as of October 2016, Android after having gained a confident majority, has been on a losing streak.[113] China is a major exception to Android gaining market share in Asia (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.[114]

Crossover to smartphones having majority share[edit]

Since 27 October 2016, desktop-minority has persisted every day. And smartphones alone have shown majority since 23 December to the end of the year, with the share topping at 58.22% on Christmas day.[115] To the "mobile"-majority share of smartphones, tablets could be added giving a 63.22% majority.

For the Christmas season (i.e. temporarily, while desktop-minority remains and smartphone-majority on weekends[116][117]), the last two weeks in December 2016, Australia (and Oceania in general)[118] was desktop-minority for the first time for an extended period, i.e. every day from 23 December.[119]

In South America, smartphones alone took majority from desktops on Christmas day,[120] but for a full week average, desktop is still at least at 58%.[121]

The UK desktop-minority dropped down to 44.02% on Christmas day and the for the eight days around to the end of the year.[122] Ireland joined some other European countries with smartphone-majority, for three days after Christmas, topping that day at 55.39%.[123][124]

In the US, desktop-minority happened for three days on and around Christmas (while a longer four-day stretch happened in November, and happens frequently on weekends).[125]

According to StatCounter web use statistics (a proxy for all use), in the week from 7–13 November 2016, "mobile" (meaning smartphones) alone (without tablets) overtook desktop, for the first time, with them highest ranked at 52.13% (on 27 November 2016)[126] or up to 49.02% for a full week.[127][128] Mobile-majority applies to countries such as Paraguay in South America, Poland in Europe and Turkey; and the continents Asia and Africa. Large regions of the rest of the world are still desktop-majority, while on some days, the United States,[129] (and North America as a whole)[130] isn't; the US is desktop-minority up to four days in a row,[131] and up to a five-day average.[132] Other examples, of desktop-minority on some days, include the UK,[130] Ireland,[133] Australia[134] (and Oceania as a whole); in fact, at least one country on every continent[135][136][137] has turned desktop-minority (for at least a month). On 22 October 2016 (and subsequent weekends), mobile has shown majority.[138] Since 27 October, the desktop hasn't shown majority, not even on weekdays.

Previously according to StatCounter press release, the world has turned desktop-minority;[139] as of October 2016, at about 49% desktop use for that month,[140][141] with desktop-minority stretching up to an 18-weeks/4-months period from 28 June to 31 October 2016,[142][143] while whole of July, August or September 2016, showed desktop-majority (and many other long sub-periods in the long stretch showed desktop-minority; similarly only Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays are desktop-minority). The biggest continents, Asia and Africa, have shown vast mobile-majority for long time (any day of the week), as well as several individual countries elsewhere have also turned mobile-majority: Poland, Albania (and Turkey)[144] in Europe and Paraguay and Bolivia[145] in South America.[146]

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.[147][148] 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).[149]

Since Sunday 27 March 2016, the first day the world dipped to desktop-minority,[150] it has happened almost every week, with by week 11–17 July 2016, the world was desktop-minority,[151] followed by the next week, and in fact also for a three-week period.[152] 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%.[153] Recent weekly data shows a downward trend for desktops.[154][155]

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),[156] mostly because Windows 7, ranked 1st on workdays, declines in web use, with it shifting to Android and lesser degree to iOS.[157]

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[158] (followed by Africa in August;[159] while Nigeria had mobile majority in October 2011,[160][161] because of Symbian – that later had 51% share, then Series 40 dominating, followed by Android as dominating operating system[162]) 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".[163] In India, desktop went from majority, in July 2012, down to 32%.[164] In Bangladesh desktop went from majority, in May 2013, down to 17%, with Android alone now accounting for majority web use.[165] Just a handful of African countries are still desktop-majority[166] and many have a large mobile majority including Ethiopia and Kenya, where mobile usage is over 72%.[167]

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,[168] while it also ranks most popular in almost every African country. Poland has been desktop-minority since April 2015,[169] because of vastly most popular Android there,[170] 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.[171] 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 has clearly lost the majority to Android in South America,[172] and a number of Eastern European countries such as Poland; lost virtually all African countries and has lost the majority twice in Asia, but gained the majority back (while many individual countries, e.g. India and most of the middle East, have clear Android majority on tablets).[173] Android on tablets is thus second most popular after the iPad.[174]

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.[175] 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).[176]

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[177] 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% [178][179]
Security Space Feb 2014 <79.3% N/A >20.7% [180][181]
W3Cook May 2015 98.3% 96.6% 1.7% 0% 1.7% [182]
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 differences "have no statistical significance".[183]
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.[184]
Revenue comparisons often include "operating system software, other bundled software"[185] 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.[citation needed]

Linux as guest on mainframes[edit]

Operating systems for IBM System z generation hardware include IBM's bundled proprietary z/OS,[186] 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.[187]

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.[188]
  • Gartner reported at the end of 2008 that Novell had an 80% share of mainframe Linux.[187]


Supercomputer OS family – 1993–2016 systems share according to TOP500[189]

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 Jun 2016 Systems share 99.40% 0.6% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% [190]
TOP500 Jun 2016 Performance share 99.79% 0.21% 0.00% 0.00% 0.0% [190]
TOP500 Nov 2015 Systems share 98.8% 1.2% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% [191]
TOP500 Nov 2015 Performance share 99.09% 0.91% 0.00% 0.00% 0.0% [191]
TOP500 Nov 2014 Systems share 97.0% 2.6% 0.2%[192] 0.2% 0.0% [193]
TOP500 Nov 2014 Performance share 98.23% 1.67% 0.06% 0.06% 0.0% [193]
TOP500 Nov 2013 Systems share 96.4% 2.4% 0.8% 0.4% 0.2% [194]
TOP500 Nov 2013 Performance share 98.0% 1.4% 0.47% 0.13% 0.05% [194]

Market share by category[edit]

Category Source Date Linux Unix and Unix-like Windows In-house Other
Desktop, laptop (excluding Android and Chrome OS) Net Applications[195] Oct 2016 2.18% (Ubuntu, etc.) 6.43% (macOS) 91.39% (10, 8.1, 7, Vista)
Smartphone, tablet StatCounter Global Stats[196] Nov 2016 68.31% (Android) 23.35% (iOS) 1.25% (Windows 10 Mobile, Windows Phone 8.1 and older) 9.86%
Server (web) W3Techs[197] Sep 2014 36.72% (Debian, Ubuntu, CentOS, RHEL, Gentoo) 30.18% (AIX, FreeBSD, HP-UX, macOS Server) 33.10% (W2K3, W2K8, W2K12)
Supercomputer TOP500[190] Jun 2016 99.79% (Custom) 0.21%
Mainframe Gartner[188] Dec 2008 28% (SLES, RHEL) 72% (z/OS) UNIX System Services
Gaming console, Handheld game console (7th & 8th generation only) VGChartz[198] Oct 2016 34.1% (PS4, PS3, Vita, PSP) 16.36% (Xbox One, Xbox 360) 49.54% (Wii U, Wii, 3DS, DS) 0%
Embedded UBM Electronics[199] 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 is a vast category, which has subcategories that include automotive, avionics, health, medical equipment, consumer electronics, intelligent homes, telecommunications. The aggregated information above may be very different for each subcategory taken separately.

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External links[edit]