Windows XP was one of Microsoft's greatest successes and greatest failures: A success because it was so rock-solid, a failure because it was so good that many people didn't want to upgrade to Windows Vista. Based on initial looks at Windows 8, Windows 7 may well be the new XP.
Windows XP was first released in 2001, and because of its speed, stability, and simplicity, has been a winner ever since. Even though it's going on 11 years old, it's still the most popular version of Windows according to Net Applications, with a 44.85 percent market share as of May 2012, compared to 40.51 percent for Windows 7 and 6.88 percent for Windows Vista.
Not everyone agrees that XP is the most popular version of Windows. As of May 2012, StatCounter has Windows 7 with 48.93 percent market share, and XP with 31.06 percent market share. It reports Windows Vista as having 8.38 percent market share.
Either way, though, it's remarkable that an operating system as old as XP has so substantial a market share. Also remarkable is how much more popular Windows 7 is than Windows Vista. That shows that when it comes to operating systems, people really do vote with their dollars. They've stayed away from problem-plagued Vista, and flocked to Windows 7.
My guess is that when Windows 8 comes out, people will also vote: They'll stay away from the new version of the operating system, and stick with Windows 7. Using Windows 8 on a traditional PC is simply too confusing because the operating system has been built for tablets more than for PCs.
Will Windows 7 manage to maintain market leadership 10 or more years after it was released? There's no way to know that. But I don't expect Windows 8 to overtake it, in the same way that Vista never overtook Windows XP.
This story, "Windows 7: The New XP?" was originally published by Computerworld.