Windows wins, Mac loses February's market-share race

Fewer users give up Windows XP; more run Windows 7, according to online usage data

Windows' market share rebounded last month as fewer users ditched Windows XP and more started running Windows 7, an Internet measurement company said today.

Meanwhile, Apple's Mac OS X lost ground in February as its online share dropped by the largest amount in more than a year and a half.

In February, 88.4 percent of users who connected to the Web sites monitored by Net Applications did so from systems powered by Windows, an increase of 0.22 of a percentage point over January. The increase was the largest for Microsoft Corp.'s operating system since June 2007, when it gained 0.40 of a percentage point.

Although Windows XP lost share again last month -- the 20th consecutive month it has done so -- it slipped only 0.09 of a percent point, just a tenth of its 12-month average decline. In February, Windows XP computers accounted for 63.7 percent of all the machines that connected to Net Applications' sites.

Contributing to Windows' uptick was Vista, which ended the month with a 22.8 percent share, up 0.31 of a percentage point, and Windows 7, the not-yet-ready successor to Vista. The release of a public beta six weeks ago has put Windows 7 on 0.18 percent of all computers, an increase of 0.07 of a percentage point over January's share.

Windows 7's share is now within striking distance of the much older Windows 98 (0.21 percentage point), but still trails by a large margin the almost-as-old Windows 2000 (1.35 percentage points).

The boost to Windows' share followed a record three-month decline that saw the operating system lose 2.2 percentage points, and marked the first time since October 2008 that Microsoft's OS showed an overall gain.

But while Windows increased its share, Mac OS X's fell for the first time since October 2008, dropping 0.32 of a percentage point to end the month to wind up with a 9.6% share. That was the biggest one-month decline since June 2007, according to Net Applications' data, when Apple's OS fell 0.45 percentage point.

February's slide didn't erase the 1.7-percentage-point-gain of the November-January stretch, also a record, but it did knock Mac OS X off its path toward a 10 percent share, pushing it back to December 2008 levels.

Net Applications' operating system market-share data can be found on the company's Web site.

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