It's now official: Windows 7 is the most popular desktop operating system in the world, finally surpassing the old warhorse, Windows XP. And given that Windows 8 was built more for tablets than traditional PCs, Windows 7 will likely reign for many years to come.
Net Applications reports that in August, for the first time, Windows 7 beat the 11-year-old Windows XP in market share, 42.76 percent to 45.3 percent. Less than a year previously, in October 2011, XP was ahead of Windows 7 by 48.03 percent to 34.62 percent.
As Computerworld points out, StatCounter, Net Applications' rival, reported back in October 2011 that Windows 7 was well ahead of Windows XP, by a 51 percent to 29 percent margin. Now, with both big analytics companies reporting Windows 7 is the leader, it's clear that it's there to stay.
Don't expect Windows 8 to ever beat out Windows 7 for desktop market share. It will remain and also-ran, just as the ill-fated Windows Vista never managed to become the most popular desktop operating system.
Enterprises will likely stay away from Windows 8 because of the immense amount of retraining and help desk work it would require. As for consumers, anyone buying a new computer will get Windows 8, but it's not likely that many people with existing PCs will upgrade to it, because there's not much there for them. And they'll give up some features of Windows 7, such as the Start menu.
A recently released IDC report also warns that Windows 8 is "a dramatic departure from existing PC paradigms" and so is not likely to spur a buying spree of new computers. The report says about Windows 8:
"Buyers must acclimate themselves to an operating system that is a dramatic departure from existing PC paradigms. The PC ecosystem faces some work to properly educate the market."
Windows has been around for decades. A version of it that requires vendors to teach people how to use it will likely never become exceedingly popular.
Preston Gralla is a contributing editor for Computerworld, and the author of more than 40 books, including "How the Internet Works," "Windows XP Hacks," and "Windows Vista in a Nutshell" and "NOOK Tablet: The Missing Manual." You can follow him on Twitter or Google+.
This story, "Windows 7 dethrones XP for desktop crown" was originally published by Computerworld.