Apple's OS X Yosemite powered more than half of all Macs last month, according to data recently released by analytics vendor Net Applications.
Yosemite accounted for 51.4% of all instances of OS X in February, up from 48.5% the month before. The analytics company estimates operating system user share by counting visits to the websites that deploy its metrics software.
Apple released Yosemite four and a half months ago.
By comparison, OS X Mavericks, Yosemite's predecessor, ended its fourth month with a user share of 45%, while 2012's Mountain Lion -- the last edition with a price tag -- had a 32% share at the same post-launch point. Mavericks took 6 months to equal Yosemite's four-month mark of 51%, while Mountain Lion never made it to a majority: It topped out at 48% the month before Mavericks' debut.
Apple's 2013 bet to make OS X upgrades free has done what Apple said motivated its decision: Move more Mac users to new editions faster. "What's most important to us is seeing the software in the hands of as many Mac users as possible," said Craig Federighi, Apple's chief of software engineering, during the October 2013 event where he announced that OS X Mavericks would be free.
At the same presentation, Federighi made another promise. "Today, spending hundreds of dollars to get the most out of your computer are gone," Federighi said while a slide behind him showed the packaging for Microsoft's Windows 8 Pro, with its $199 retail price prominent.
Federighi was more prescient than he probably expected: 14 months later Microsoft announced that it would give away Windows 10 upgrades to consumers running Windows 7- and Windows 8.1-powered PCs later this year. That free upgrade offer will run for one year after Windows 10's official launch.
More importantly, Microsoft has also pledged to provide free updates and upgrades to Windows 10 for an as-yet-not-specified period that will hinge on how the Redmond, Wash. firm defines the "supported lifetime" of a device.