December 04, 2012, 3:12 PM — Unlike rival Microsoft, Apple has consistently been able to get a significant portion of its Mac customers to quickly upgrade to the newest version of OS X, data from a Web measurement company showed.
The last three versions of Apple's desktop operating system have been adopted at a rate almost three times that of the best-performing edition of Windows, 2009's Windows 7.
In the first five months of OS X 10.6, 10.7 and 10.8 availability -- known as Snow Leopard, Lion and Mountain Lion, respectively -- nearly a third of all Mac owners upgraded to the newest edition, according to California-based Internet metrics firm Net Applications.
Five months after its 2009 launch, Snow Leopard powered 32% of all Macs, while Lion and Mountain Lion, which debuted in 2011 and 2012, each accounted for 29% of all Mac machines by the end of their fifth month.
That's in contrast to Microsoft Windows, which has had varied success in the same time span: At the end of its fifth month, Windows 7 accounted for 11% of all Windows PCs, more than twice the 5% share of Vista two years earlier.
Windows 8, which shipped in late October 2012, looks to be on the same usage uptake trajectory as Vista, although that could, of course, change in the upcoming months.
Why Mac owners consistently upgrade OS X is unknown, although it may be related to price: All three of the most recent editions cost less than $30, with the latest, Mountain Lion, priced even lower, at $20.
By comparison, Windows 7's best deal was a short-lived $50-per-license deal during the summer of 2009. An upgrade to Vista's primary consumer-grade edition ran $159 in early 2007.
Only Windows 8, which has not reached its fifth month of availability, has competed with Apple's lower prices for any length of time. Microsoft discounted Windows 8 Pro upgrades to just $40, a deal that began in late October and expires at the end of January 2013.
The difference between OS X's and Windows' uptake paces is more easily explained: If OS X is a dinghy that changes course on a dime, Windows is the behemoth oil tanker that requires miles to take a different heading.
Even with its slightly-increased global usage share -- in November OS X accounted for 7.3% of all desktop and notebook personal computers, up from 6.5% a year earlier -- Apple's operating system is still mostly used by consumers, who can upgrade on a whim.