Microsoft Windows 10 Overtook Windows 7 Finally, Possibly Thanks To Spectre

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Microsoft Windows 10 overtook Windows 7 for the first time ever in January, according to data from third-party web analytics firm StatCounter. According to StatCounter’s data, 42.78% of Windows users around the world were using 10, versus 41.86% for Windows 7.

Windows 10 overtook Windows 7… finally

Microsoft launched Windows 10 in July 2015 as an attempt to distance itself from Windows 8, which was not well-accepted at all. A majority of users loathed that version of the operating system, and many choose to stay with Windows 7 rather than upgrading to the touch-focused version of Microsoft’s widely-used desktop OS.

StatCounter Chief Executive Officer Aodhan Cullen describes the fact that Windows 10 overtook Windows 7 as “a breakthrough for Microsoft.”

He said that Windows 10 overtook Windows 7 in North America in January as well, while it overtook Windows 7 in the U.K. in June 2016. StatCounter bases its findings on worldwide Internet usage covering more than 10 bill pageviews every month on more than 2 million websites.

Loyalty to Windows 7 remains

Because how much Windows 8 was hated by the masses, it’s understandable that users would wait years before upgrading from Windows 7 out of concern that they would hate Windows 10 as much as they hated Windows 8. Microsoft even tried to spur upgrades to Windows 10 by offering them free to Windows 8 and some Windows 7 users for a limited time, but it was about two and a half years before Windows 10 overtook Windows 7.

According to Cullen, even though Windows 10 overtook Windows 7 in January, many users of the latter remain loyal to it, especially business users. However, he also said that Microsoft undoubtedly hopes to replace 7 more quickly than it replaced Windows XP, which was launched in August 2001. It wasn’t until June 2017 that Windows XP usage slipped under 5% of Internet traffic around the globe.

Microsoft may have Meltdown and Spectre to thank

Perhaps the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities offered reason enough for many users to decide that January was the month to update to Windows 10. Given that the news about Meltdown and Spectre hit late last year and manufacturers started pushing out security patches in January, the timeline would match up.

Microsoft is still supporting Windows 10 with security patches and will likely continue to do so through mid-January 2020. However, Meltdown and Spectre are particularly nasty problems with the very design of the processors used in most devices.

Before companies started pushing out patches close the holes left by the chip design flaws, there were plenty of warnings that the security patches would likely have very serious implications for performance on some devices. Microsoft announced that Windows 7 in particular would probably take the greatest hit on performance out of all the OS versions it is still supporting. The company also said that it expected the performance of PCs running on Windows 10 to be affected the least.

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