The state of Microsoft Windows in 2011 – Win 7 and XP battle for domination

We could read the headline “Windows 7 just became the most widely used desktop OS in the world” earlier this year.

For Microsoft this must have been welcome news as it announced that Windows 7 for the first time ever was used on more computers to browse the web than Windows XP.

We know that Microsoft wants users to retire Windows XP, so does this spell out the doom for the aging OS, which went into retail sales ten years ago in 2001?

We pulled out the latest statistics to investigate and we found that Windows XP is still alive and well in large parts of the world.

Windows XP still in the lead in 55 countries

After going through the data we end up with the map below. As you can see, Windows XP still dominates some seriously big markets. When reading the map note the colors:

  • Red is where Windows XP is still the most used operating system (55 countries or 44%).
  • Orange is where Windows 7 is the most used operating system (69 countries or 56%)
  • White is for countries and territories with less than 500,000 Internet users (if you wonder why, see the note at the end of the article).

Quick facts

Let’s look at some figures that stand out:

  • 74.02% – Windows XP’s market share in China, the highest for any country.
  • 13.24% – Windows XP’s market share in Luxembourg, the lowest for any country.
  • 67.77% – Luxembourg also has the highest Windows 7 share of any country.
  • 20.9% – Cuba has the lowest Windows 7 usage of any country.
  • 7.67% – The average usage of Windows Vista, which is still the third most used OS in a majority of the countries.
  • 58 – Number of countries where Windows 98 is still in use. The highest rate is 0.05%.*
  • 119 – Number of countries where Windows 2000 is still in use. The highest rate is 0.06%.*
  • 123 – Number of countries where Windows 2003 is still in use. Cuba has the highest rate, 3.09%.*
  • 99.13% – The highest combined Windows share (Windows 7, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 2003, Windows 2000, Windows NT, Windows 98, and Windows ME) in any country is in Georgia.
  • 77.48% – The lowest combined Windows share is found in Switzerland.
  • 124 – Five operating systems are in use in all 124 countries: Windows 7, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Mac OS X, and iOS (in StatCounter’s desktop OS statistics, iOS means iPad only).*

* To show up in the StatCounter stats, an OS must represent at least 0.01% of the web usage.

Windows XP lives on

The simple facts are hard to ignore. Windows XP still has the lead in 44% of all the countries included in this study, with China taking the top spot with over 74% usage share for XP.

Looking at these numbers we can safely say that declaring the death of Windows XP is premature. With worldwide usage still around 36%, according to StatCounter, Windows XP will be with us for quite some time to come.

Microsoft probably looks at these numbers with mixed feelings. On the one hand, Redmond wants to move the old out and the new in, as it’s facing rolling out Windows 8 starting next year. On the other, at least Windows 7 keeps taking over more markets from Windows XP.

It will be interesting to see what the situation will be this time next year.

A note on the data: On 2011-12-08 we downloaded the data for all the countries and territories available in StatCounter’s database over desktop operating systems, covering the first week of December 2011. We did not include countries and territories with less than 500,000 Internet users, because the fewer the Internet users, the less reliable and representative the data is. That left us with 124 countries.


  1. Excluding countries by *absolute* count of internet users seems rather unhelpful… Anything beginning with a few thousands can probably be considered quite reliable. And whether it’s representative, depends solely on the percentage of internet users — i.e. the number of users relative to total population.

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