Android has scored one big win over Windows when it comes to Internet usage. Google’s OS has now overtaken Windows to become the Internet’s most-used OS. This win also highlights the sparkling rise of mobile phones and fading of an era in which only desktops were used to access the web.

Android Windows Internet
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Android more popular than Windows for Internet access

This conclusion is based ondata from research firm StatCounter. Last month, Android enjoyed a market share of 39.93%, compared to Windows’ 37.91%, and the research firm expects this trend to continue. These numbers are a big change from the past; for instance, in January 2012, Android commanded just 2.2% of global Internet usage, compared to over 80% for Windows.

Statcounter CEO Aodhan Cullen sees it as a “milestone in technology history and the end of an era” marking the end Microsoft’s dominance “of the OS market which it has held since the 1980s. It also represents a major breakthrough for Android which held just 2.4% of global internet usage share only five years ago.”

StatCounter’s data includes Internet usage on smartphones, tablets, laptops and PCs. The firm used data from 2.5 million websites which it claims generate more than 15 billion page views a month.  The research firm tracked the gradual convergence of usage for the two operating systems.

This is the first time Windows has been overtaken as the leading OS for accessing the Internet. When it comes to just desktop Internet usage, Windows is still far ahead with about an 84% share. The overall market has transitioned away from desktops, and Microsoft has clearly failed to capitalize on this. Microsoft has also failed miserably with its Windows OS for mobile.

“Windows won the desktop war but the battlefield moved on,” said Cullen.

Android’s clout is rising, thanks to the emerging world

Though the gap between Android and Windows is minute and reflects only usage and not users, it does underline the inevitable trend we have been witnessing over the past few years. For Apple, the switch from PCs to mobile happened some time ago, notes TechCrunch. iOS users are already three times more active on the Internet than OSX users.

The growth in Internet usage from mobile is the highest in emerging markets like India, where Android accounts for more than 90% of smartphones and Apple is still a niche player. Though the Android/iOS ratio is more even in the U.S., the entry of new Internet users from regions like the Middle East, Latin America, Asia and Africa, has worked in favor of Android, notes TechCrunch.

However, when it comes to earnings, iOS is way ahead of Android. App Annie recently found that iOS bagged the majority of the $35 billion paid to developers on the iOS and Android app stores. This was despite the fact that iOS accounted for just 25 billion of the 90 billion apps downloaded last year.  However, this could change in Android’s favor this year.