Windows 7 is on a tear. The latest statistics from the exo.repository show Microsoft’s newest client OS installed across 11% of participating systems. That’s over double the percentage that reported running Windows 7 at the beginning of the year, and the fastest penetration of any Microsoft desktop OS on record.
Figure 1 - Community OS Share Today
The big loser in this sea change is Windows XP, which saw its usage share drop by over 3 percentage points. Windows 7’s immediate predecessor, Windows Vista, took a similar hit, dropping nearly 3 percentage points in Q1, 2010. Over the past six months, Vista has dropped nearly five percentage points, again mostly due to heavy adoption of Windows 7.
Figure 2 - Community OS Share on 1/4/2010
That Microsoft’s new OS could make these kinds of inroads, in such a short period of time, is testament to product’s popularity. If this trend continues, Windows 7 will easily overtake Windows Vista as the second most widely installed desktop OS by the end of 2010, and could potentially displace Windows XP atop the OS usage share heap by sometime in early 2012.
Since this will also be the timeframe in which Microsoft begins ramping up the “Windows 8” hype machine, it will be interesting to see if the company ends up facing a similar situation to the one it faced with XP vs. Vista: A wildly popular OS that everyone is satisfied with and that nobody feels any urgent need to upgrade from. When that happens, the wheels may once again come off the Windows upgrade treadmill, forcing Microsoft to find even more creative ways to convince its customers that, while Windows 7 is great, they really do need the “next big thing.”