Android surpasses Windows as the most-used operating system worldwide

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It was just a few weeks ago when web analytics firm StatCounter predicted Android would overtake Windows as the most popular operating system online. Well, it didn’t take long. The latest numbers from StatCounter show Android with a narrow lead over Windows. After less than nine years, Google’s open source operating system is bigger than Windows.

The numbers from last month placed Windows at 38.6% of web traffic, while Android was just behind it at 37.4%. The two might go up or down a little each month, but the overall trend was up for Android and down for Windows. That’s what happened in the last few weeks, apparently. Android is now on top with a 37.93% share of web traffic, and Windows has fallen to 37.91%. It’s a tiny lead for Android right now, but it’s likely to continue growing.

“This is a milestone in technology history and the end of an era,” according to StatCounter CEO Aodhan Cullen. Windows online usage was still over 80% as recently as 2012. That was back in the era of Windows 7 and Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Android was still in the single digits then, even lower than Apple’s iOS, which has remained steady at just shy of 10% for years. Android’s online presence was lacking not only because of lower sales, but due to the more limited nature of the platform.

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Android has achieved this growth without any presence in the traditional PC form factor. Consumers simply don’t buy as many laptops, and the machines are used for longer when they do. Smartphones get much more usage, and tend to be upgraded every year or two. Android device makers already ship more units than Windows PC retailers, but now they’re actually accounting for more usage.

If there’s a bright spot in all this for Microsoft, it’s that online activity in some regions still favors the desktop. In North America, Windows is still in the lead, with 39.5% usage and iOS in second place at 25.7%. Android is in third with 21.1%. Europe is 51.7% Windows with only 23.7% Android. It’s the rest of the world that helps Android make up the difference, including a whopping 52.2% share of web activity in Asia.

Windows usage will probably continue declining, but only to a point. As long as powerful desktop operating systems are better for getting work done, people will use them. However, the increasing capabilities and affordability of Android should give Microsoft reason to worry about the future. Linux might win after all.

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