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Is Windows Losing Market Share?

by Neil MacDonald  |  October 28, 2010  |  4 Comments

During our interview last week with Steve Ballmer, one point of contention was whether or not Windows was losing market share. The context of the question was a discussion on consumerization and its impact on enterprises. What our clients are telling us is that there are an increasing number of Macs being brought into the enterprise. Our clients are calling us with questions on how to secure and manage these devices.

In the interview, John and I stated that Windows was losing market share in the enterprise, Steve emphatically stated that it was not.

What does Gartner research show?

In this full market analysis available to Gartner clients, you can get the complete breakdown. Here’s just a portion (I’ve combined all of the variants of Windows together – the report has this broken out by OS).

For non-consumer usage worldwide, all variants of Windows combined held a 95.2% market share at YE2009 (this number includes the entire installed base of machines, not just the percentage of new PCs shipped where the market share of Windows is actually lower). Not only is this projected to drop in 2010, but it also drops every year to a projected 94.4% at YE2014.

For just the consumer installed base, the adoption of non-Windows PCs and laptops is even higher. All variants of Windows combined drop to a projected 92.8% market share by 2014.

Sure – in absolute numbers, Microsoft is clearly selling more copies of Windows as the number of PC users in the world continues to increase. But when looking at market share, Windows is losing market share. The drop in market share may seem small, but when you are talking about hundreds of millions of machines installed worldwide, every tenth of a point of market percentage drop is a large number.

I’m sure that Microsoft could show numbers that indicate otherwise, so let’s set the numbers argument aside. The pain you are feeling is real.

The reality is that nearly every one of your enterprises has more non-Windows devices coming in the door (usually Macs). Sometimes employees bring them, sometimes they demand them and IT procures them. Sometimes its the CXO level of the organization and you can’t say “no”. We don’t have a choice. I see this everyday in discussion with clients asking for the best practices and advice for securing and managing these devices.

What Microsoft really needs to do is acknowledge that the issue and pain you are feeling is real and start providing solutions that help you manage and secure an environment that isn’t 100% Windows. That’s how Microsoft could really help

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Category: microsoft  virtualization-security  windows-7  

Tags: apple  microsoft  reducing-complexity  windows  

Neil MacDonald
VP & Gartner Fellow
15 years at Gartner
25 years IT industry

Neil MacDonald is a vice president, distinguished analyst and Gartner Fellow in Gartner Research. Mr. MacDonald is a member of Gartner's information security and privacy research team, focusing on operating system and application-level security strategies. Specific research areas include Windows security…Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Is Windows Losing Market Share?

  1. Scott Olson says:

    This doesn’t count the other phenomenon that is the more troubling for Microsoft and that is the loss of the PC market share to newer mobile devices. The looming wave of tablet devices where Microsoft is decidedly behind Apple and Google that have the potential to eat into shipments of low end laptops and netbooks is far more significant.

    Another thing I would be interested in is the increase in non-Windows devices in enterprises that previously were Windows only. Yes, the market share numbers may not be that significant, but try to find an enterprise today where key employees don’t have Macs. They are far more prevalent than they were even five years ago. This can’t be a good trend for MSFT.

  2. Neil MacDonald says:

    I agree.

    The world isn’t just about the PC anymore.

    Microsoft is performing poorly in the mobile device space and Gartner’s recent market data (even taking into consideration Windows Phone 7) projects Microsoft continuing to lose market share in this cirtically important space:

    It’s the same in tablets. We’ll be updating our forcast here soon, but you are correct that the iPad has shown the appeal of this market segment. In 9 months, Apple has doubled the number of units that Microsoft has sold over the past 9 years. Enterprise-centric devices such as the recent HP Slate 500 won’t change this. Microsoft needs a consumer tablet and it needs it soon

    If you add all of these together into a broader bucket of “browser enabled devices with the capability of running local apps”, Microsoft’s situation is much worse.

  3. Nick says:

    My experiences with windows 7 and Vista have been nothing but disappointment and frustration. Good riddance to microsoft when they are finally pushed out of the market place by the X-customers they previously dumped on and took for granted.

  4. Tom Brander says:

    Well the more interesting story is probably the server population where Linux and variants have 75+ % of traffic in the Internet I guess that internal servers are more heavily weighted to MS though…. and large data stores where MS claims large numbers but I doubt them… And the momentum on both servers and database data is clearly away from MS particularly for larger installations (except I suppose all that exchange server and sharepoint stuff)

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