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An image of a mac desktop.

39+ Desktop OS Market Share Stats You Might Be Missing Out

by Darina Lynkova

Last Updated on

Let’s admit it:

The good old desktop is a life-saver, and the operating system is its best friend.

Smartphone usage is on the rise, but face it – we work on desktops, play video games on desktops… make online purchases on desktops.

And let’s get to the obvious:

Without a desktop, your computer is just a useless heap of junk.

You heard me!

An empty plastic box you won’t even want to dust. (And most of us don’t bother anyway!)

Today, the latest desktop OS market share statistics are here to prove it.  

Here we go:

AMAZING desktop OS market share facts:

  • Currently, 79.1% of desktop devices run on Windows.
  • Nearly 80% of the world’s computers run on Windows.
  • 100% of supercomputers (all 500 of them!) run on Linux.
  • MacOS Mojave has reached 42.52% among Mac users worldwide. 
  • Windows 10 is now running on more than 700 million devices. 
  • Windows 10 is now more popular than Windows 7 according to desktop OS market share stats.
  • 63% of executives would like from a mobile “The functionality of a full website, comparable to PC-based experiences.” 

User experience has become so seamless that most of us, mere mortals, don’t need to know what an OS is at all these days. Or how it operates (ha!). 

An image of a desktop computer and a laptop.

In general, the OS sprinkles the magic dust and translates those 0s and 1s into manageable content. 

Ever tried writing your name in binary, or even ASCII code? Can you imagine filling out a form this way? 

I seriously doubt it.

The OS is the fertile soil on which the graphic user interface (GUI) and apps can grow. 

So, let’s start with: 

A Brief History of Operating Systems:

We’ll just quickly go through the ages. So, buck up:

The first batch-processing OS, GM-NAA I/O, was put to work in 1956 by General Motors and North American Aviation to run the IBM 704. It contained shared routines to manage multiple input/output devices. And once it completed a task, it automatically looked for the next one. This is what the 704 looked like:

Yup!

However:

Many consider the Atlas Supervisor as the first OS. Released in 1957, the program managed to automate communication between the computer’s primary and secondary memory. It could simultaneously run tasks, user programs, and peripheral equipment without being manually fed punch cards.

Fast forward to 1983, when Apple Computer released Unix-based Lisa OS to offer a  document-oriented graphical interface over the advanced hard disk-based OS for one of the first personal desktops.

Then, Windows 1.0 saw the light of day in 1985. And boy, have we come a long way.

Now that we know the basics, let’s dive right in with the big stats:

1. Currently 79.1% of the desktop OS market share belongs to Windows, 14.37% to Mac, 1.74 to Linux, and 1.48 to Chrome%. 3.31% go for an unknown platform.

(Source: GS Statcounter)

In spite of the steady and promising rise of mobile, the good ol’ desktop still has its advantages. It is sturdier and can be multi-user. Additionally,  its larger screen allows for a more engaging experience. In this case, size matters.

As does the more powerful processor.

2. On average, a web page needs 87.84% more time to load on mobile than on desktop. 

(Source: Backlinko) 

That’s right, almost twice as long. Now imagine having to do any professional work on a cell phone. Developers, graphic designers, and gamers, not to mention banks and airlines, will remain some of the most stable desktop users in search of new features and OS improvements.

You can do an experiment: 

Try going without a desktop for a week. I bet it’ll feel odd.

So, let’s look at the most popular operating systems one by one. The list of versions is virtually endless, but the big players remain the same: Windows, OS X, Linux, Chrome, (yes, muggles, Chrome is an OS!) and a few alternatives. Each OS has its own breakthrough feature and unique niche operating system market share.

Windows market share highlights

Bill Gates once said:

“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.”

Well… he did pretty well, didn’t he: 

3. Nearly 80% of the world’s computers run on Windows.

(Source: GS Statcounter)

As we mentioned, the Windows interface debuted in 1985 and hasn’t stopped growing its customer base ever since. In July 2019 it ruled over 88.45% of the global desktop OS market. The Windows operating system smashed the competition when it introduced the Excel app and took over Apple VisiCalc and Lotus 1-2-3.

4. In 2019, Windows 10 is more popular than Windows 7.

(Source: The Verge)

But it took three years and a lot of hard work on Microsoft’s part to surpass none other than its very own Windows 7. 

Check this out:

Windows 7 held 36.9% of the desktop OS market share in 2018, falling behind Windows 10 by less than 3% at 39.22%. But in spite of the introduction of the Windows phone and the urgency of MS updates, it is still 30% behind the $1billion target. 

5. Windows 10 is now running on more than 700 million devices.

(Source: The Verge)

Truth is, many users did not want to upgrade from Windows 7. After years of trying, MS had created and popularized a product people wanted to stay with. But after a while the update came about automatically, leaving upset customers no choice. This looks like the marketing curse of the nearly-perfect product.

6. Microsoft’s net worth is $1 trillion. 

(Source: Quartz)

The Redmond company has joined rivals Apple and Amazon north of the $1 trillion in stock market value. While most of the boost in stock price comes from Microsoft’s cloud services, the company reported an 8% increase in personal computing revenue to reach 10.7 billion already in Q1 of 2019. One thing is for sure – those numbers are set to grow and continue to affect the desktop OS market share

7. Microsoft has split its stock 9 times since 1987.

(Source: Investopedia)

As early as 1986, the company’s shares (MSFT) had passed the $30/share boundary. A split doubles the number of shares while also lowering their price and making them more affordable. 

I’ll just tell you this without going into unnecessary detail about split-adjusted price: 

If Microsoft hadn’t done the splits, an MSFT share would be trading for over $10, 000 today!

Now, over to the competition:

MacOS Market Share Highlights

 “Simple can be harder than complex; you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.”

Steve Jobs knew what he was talking about:

8. MacOS Mojave has reached 42.52% among Mac users worldwide. 

(Source: GS Statcounter)

The Apple operating system is an ecosystem on its own. It has inspired a strange sort of devotion among its users with its ever novel graphics, a smooth color palette, and intuitive UI. 

9. Apple sold $150 million worth of stock to Microsoft in 1997.

(Source: Appleinsider)

This is what made the second Steve Jobs era possible. It also saved Microsoft from being a monopoly. Without that investment, we would never have those shiny iPods, iPads, iPhones, and iMacs.

Currently, the Mac OS share price is at $255.82, with an average stock price of $193.51 for the whole year. And no, Bill Gates doesn’t own any Apple stock anymore. Neither does Microsoft. But if they did, it would be worth over an incredible $10 billion.  

(By the way, check out the historic interview given jointly by Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.  It’s awesome!)

10. The Apple II OS ran on around 22 K memory in 1977.

(Source: All Things D)

I know, that sounds impossibly tiny by today’s standards. For comparison, the OS X 10.8 needs 2 GB to run. 

Next:

11. MacOS High Sierra still holds an 18.25% market share in the Apple world.

(Source: GS Statcounter)

Mac OS High Sierra came first in 2018, reaching a peak of 53.05% in September. But the first place for the Mac desktop OS market share in 2019 goes to Mojave. The same data shows Mac OS Sierra still steadily holding over 10% of the operating system market share among Apple users worldwide.

12. So far this year, Apple has sold 14.8% of PC units in the US.

(Source: Statista) 

That’s around 2.19 million units, and we still have a couple of weeks to go before Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Now:

Laptops are among the top 5 most wanted tech gifts for Christmas, so those numbers are only going north. Mac shipments have already grown 1.5% YoY in 2019.

Last but not least, this month Apple overtook Microsoft as the world’s most valued company. Are you looking for more juicy Apple statistics? Look no further because we have them!

But first, let’s look at another major player in the operating system market share in 2019.

Linux market share highlights

‘Talk is cheap. Show me the code.’

Linus Torvalds said that… 

Now:

13.  100% of supercomputers run on Linux (all 500 of them!).

(Source: it’s FOSS)

No wonder then Linux is the most loved platform by developers at 83.1%, with Windows a distant 12th in this category. Closer to home, it is estimated that 9 out of 10 Hollywood productions depend on Linux for visual effects. 

Not to mention the Large Hadron Collider that runs on Linux to manage data. At an incredible $10 billion, it’s easily the most expensive machine today. 

Here’s the key takeaway: 

The Linux desktop operating system is unrivaled when it comes to serving the pros.

An image of a laptop, a smartphone, and a notebook.

14. Over 75% of the server OS market share belongs to Linux.

(Source: Datanyze)

The other contenders get measly shares of the pie. And when I say measly, I mean single digits. Alexa also confirms that less than 10% of the world’s most popular websites don’t use Linux. Clearly, other supercomputer operating systems don’t seem to stand much of a chance in the virtual space.

But Linux also remains a friendly option for those who want to migrate to a more independent and versatile system than OS X and Windows.

15. It takes under 20 minutes to install Ubuntu.

(Source: it’s FOSS)

What’s more, 80% of Ubuntu users prefer a clean install to an update. And 27% use 4 or more CPUs! Ever since its release in October 2004, Linux has been a favorite to many. Even so, the list of users of its predecessor, Debian remains impressive in 2019. The latest, Linux Mint has already surpassed Ubuntu in popularity. 

Linux and its devoted user base firmly hold nearly 2% of the desktop operating system share!

More importantly, Linux is already in the hands of many of us. 

Here’s why:

16. Every single Android phone runs on the Linux kernel, and 76% of smartphones run on Android.

(Source: Statista)

And just so that everything comes full circle, you can adapt the Android OS for PC! What better proof of our devotion to our handheld devices. And to Linux for that matter. No wonder Linux is projected to reach a market value of over $7 000 000 by 2023

And since we’re at it, let’s check some more:

Mobile operating system market share highlights

No surprises here this year:

17. Android and iOS make up for over 99% of the mobile OS market share.

(Source: GS Statcounter)

And Google’s Android wins by far: 

Apple is its only real competitor to reach double digits this year at a little over 22%. It sounds pretty good, but that’s still more than three times less than Google’s market share in 2019 in the competition between the best-operating systems. Its current estimated value is a whopping $2.9 billion. While the Windows mobile flopped, Linux is gaining momentum with its KaiOS that came up third this year at 0.42%.

Still.

18. 63% of executives look to see in mobile the same features as on a desktop. 

(Source: Forbes)

Surely it is still much easier to follow website links, see product details, or fill out a purchase form on a desktop. 

This is huge:

For now, desktop conversion rates are twice as high as mobile ones: 4.04% vs. 1.88% respectively. With the desktop bounce rate still under 50% (42% to be exact), retailers who rely on their online sales should watch mobile traffic and allow users to complete them later. 

A very colorful image of a desktop of a designer.

19. 46% of global online retail orders happen on desktop.

(Source: Statista) 

Yep, desktop traffic has a 16% lower bounce rate than mobile. And not surprisingly, the average purchase value on a desktop is $118.66 vs $77.71 for mobile. When it comes to entering financial details and reviewing shopping cart lists, most of us seem to prefer the comfort of the desktop. 

There’s nothing like a stable broadband connection and speedy internet and good keyboard when you have to enter addresses and bank details. It’s just that half of the clicks on mobile are accidental for now. But I bet you already knew that.  

Wrap up

So here’s the list of operating systems with the greatest market share, each with its strongest points. 

For now. 

But when it gets to computers, things can be very dynamic.

Apple has just launched Catalina, and the next Windows operating system is rumored to be lighter. As for Linux, it is getting updated as you’re reading this.

When it comes to the Windows vs Mac vs Linux desktop OS debate, it all depends on the user’s needs. One thing is sure: 

There are plenty of features and a large community behind each one. 

Besides, it’s always ok to switch. Let us know if you’ve ever switched operating systems. 

In the meantime, we’ll continue to monitor the desktop OS market share and user experience. 

Have a great day, guys!

See you soon!

Sources:

  1. GS StatCounter
  2. Backlinko
  3. GS Statcounter
  4. The Verge
  5. The Verge
  6. Quartz
  7. Investopedia
  8. GS Statcounter
  9. AppleInsider
  10. All Things D
  11. GS StatCounter
  12. Statista
  13. it’s FOSS
  14. Datanyze
  15. it’s FOSS
  16. Statista
  17. GS StatCounter
  18. Forbes
  19. Statista

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