September 02, 2013, 8:39 AM — Maybe people are listening to Microsoft's demand that they ditch Windows XP.
According to metrics company Net Applications, Windows XP's user share plunged to 33.7% of all personal computers in August, a record-setting one-month fall of 3.5 percentage points.
When XP's share of only those PCs that are powered by Windows was calculated, the decline was slightly sharper, from 40.6% of all Windows systems in July to 36.9% in August, a drop of 3.7 percentage points.
However it's measured, XP's plummet was dramatic. The decline easily bested XP's previous record of a one-month slide set in December 2011, the month after "Peak PC," the industry's high-water mark and when Windows 7 was quickly gaining ground at the expense of XP.
XP's loss was made up by other Microsoft operating systems, the one-year-old Windows 8 and the four-year-old Windows 7, with the gains split 2-1 in favor of Windows 8.
Windows 7 grew its user share of Windows PCs to 50% last month, while Windows 8 boosted its share to 8.4%, a record for the struggling operating system.
Microsoft has beaten the dump-XP drum for more than two years. Last month, it did so again when a manager in its security group warned that the aged OS will become a prime target for cyber criminals once security updates end on April 8, 2014.
But those calls by Redmond have gone largely unheeded.
In the 12-month stretch from August 2012 to July 2013, for example, Windows XP lost an average of half a percentage point each month, or one-seventh of what it shed last month alone. More recently, XP's decline had actually slowed: In the six months from February to July 2013, XP fell just four-tenths of a point per month on average, or about one-ninth its August decline.
It's impossible to tell whether the XP slide represents actual abandonment of the OS and replacements of older PCs, since Net Applications measures only online activity. The decline, or part of it, could have been caused by fewer XP owners using the Internet, or at least the very small part that Net Applications monitors.
And since Net Applications' methodology relies on weighting its data by country, a small decline in XP usage in China, where more than 70% of all personal computers run the operating system and the Internet population is enormous, may have had an outsized impact on the results.