Which operating system will be 2011's bestseller?
One operating system will be on more than 40 percent of all personal computers as 2011 comes to a close, according to a forecast from Gartner.
When 2012 rolls around, Windows 7 will have 42 percent of the PC OS market share, Gartner predicted, and 94 percent of all new PC shipments this year will run on Microsoft's latest OS.
"By the end of 2011, nearly 635 million PCs worldwide are expected to be shipped with Windows 7," said Annette Jump, research director at Gartner, in a statement Aug. 9.
Gartner's highly precise prediction comes just as global stock market turmoil reflects dramatically souring moods about economic prospects for growth in the second half of 2011.
"Steady improvements in IT budgets in 2010 and 2011 are helping to accelerate the deployment of Windows 7 in enterprise markets in the U.S. and Asia/Pacific, where Windows 7 migrations started in large volume in 4Q10," Jump said.
But she nodded to the economic headwinds, indicating that they might already be factored into Gartner's projections. "The economic uncertainties in Western Europe, political instability in selected Middle East and Africa countries and the economic slowdown in Japan after the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 will likely lead to slightly late and slow deployment for Windows 7 across those regions," Jump said.
The Gartner forecast follows real-time numbers released by Net Applications earlier this month showing that the decade-long run for Windows XP had passed a milestone in its ride into the sunset: The OS dipped below 50 percent share. Windows 7's share, according to Net Applications, was almost 28 percent and Windows Vista's was about 9 percent.
During the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in July, Microsoft executives told partners that 400 million copies of Windows 7 have been shipped already. Tami Reller, a Windows executive, urged partners to help customers move to Windows 7, warning that support for XP would end in 1,000 days (see "Windows XP Deathwatch: 1,000 Days to End of Life").
In discussing earnings later that month, Microsoft executives offered analysts context on enterprise deployments of Windows 7. "Enterprise deployments [of Windows 7] have increased almost 50 percent since March," said Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Peter Klein during the earnings call. Bill Koefoed, Microsoft's general manager of investment relations, added that 25 percent of enterprises have deployed Windows 7.
On the same call, Microsoft acknowledged a rare drop in Windows revenue. The 1 percent decrease in revenues for the quarter came on a 2 percent decline in consumer PC sales and an 8 percent increase in business PC sales. The most striking factor was plummeting netbook sales, which dropped 41 percent.
Those results followed Apple's record earnings, in which the company argued that its 10 million iPad sales in the quarter were making inroads in the enterprise (see "Apple Continues To Move Devices Like Crazy"). Apple COO Tim Cook was quoted as telling analysts in the earnings call, "It's clear that some customers chose to purchase an iPad instead of a new Mac, but what really excites us is more customers chose to buy an iPad than a Windows PC."
The new Gartner forecast, which doesn't cover tablets, also called for strong growth in Apple Mac share over the next few years, but the desktop OS was not expected to make much of a dent in Windows share on the PC.
"The adoption of Mac PCs and Mac OS is a result of Apple's ability to grow well above the market average in the last 12 to 24 months, thanks to its ease of use from the user interface point of view and ease of integration with other Apple devices, such as the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and the existing Apple ecosystem of applications and programs," Jump said.
The Gartner forecast calls for Mac OS to ship on 4.5 percent of new PCs worldwide in 2011 and 5.2 percent in 2015.
Gartner does not expect Google Chrome OS, Google Android or HP's webOS to get "any significant market share" on PCs in the next few years, and expects Linux operating systems to remain in its niche of less than 2 percent share over the next several years.
Scott Bekker is the editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.