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Android Overtakes Windows as World's Most Popular OS on Internet

Completing a trend foreshadowed in an earlier report, Android has surpassed Microsoft Windows as the most popular OS in terms of global Internet usage across desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile platforms, StatCounter announced today.

The Web analytics company said its metrics -- tracking five years of OS usage trends -- indicated Android overtook Windows for the first time in March, garnering a 37.93 percent worldwide OS Internet usage market share, barely edging out Windows at 37.91 percent. Last month's report on February numbers had Android at 37.4 percent and Windows at 38.6 percent.

According to StatCounter CEO Aodhan Cullen, the usage milestone was driven primarily by growth of smartphones for Internet access, a PC sales slump and the impact of Asia on the global market.

"This is a milestone in technology history and the end of an era," Cullen said in a statement. "It marks the end of Microsoft's leadership worldwide of the OS market which it has held since the 1980s. It also represents a major breakthrough for Android which held just 2.4 percent of global Internet usage share only five years ago."

The March Numbers
[Click on image for larger view.] The March Numbers (source: StatCounter)

Without the influence of Asian growth, Windows still dominates in markets such as North America, where the standings are: Windows (39.5 percent); iOS (25.7 percent); and Android (21.2 percent). Similar numbers were reported for Europe. The picture in Asia is markedly different, though, as Android clocked in at 52.2 percent and Windows at 29.2 percent.

The increasing popularity of mobile devices contributed to smartphone and tablet usage overtaking desktop and laptop for the first time last October.

The Global View
[Click on image for larger view.] The Global View (source: StatCounter)

While Android usage skyrocketed beginning in about early 2014, iOS usage rose at a much slower rate and has as yet failed to breach the 15 percent usage threshold. This reflects the general viewpoint that much iOS usage comes from more affluent mobile users favoring high-end iPhones, while Android is seen as being used more by the masses on lower-end devices, especially in developing areas. Apple's iOS also is seen as providing the best monetary payoff for developers.

Also, although PC sales are in decline, the market for desktop/laptop OS market share is still ruled by Microsoft, as Windows accounted for 84 percent of Internet usage last month, according to StatCounter.

"Windows won the desktop war but the battlefield moved on," Cullen said. "It will be difficult for Microsoft to make inroads in mobile but the next paradigm shift might give it the opportunity to regain dominance. That could be in augmented reality, AI, voice or Continuum (a product that aims to replace a desktop and smartphone with a single Microsoft powered phone)."

The increasing popularity of mobile devices contributed to smartphone and tablet usage overtaking desktop and laptop for the first time last October.

Methodology and other information about StatCounter's Global Stats research can be found in a FAQ.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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