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article imageAndroid surpasses Windows to become the world's most used OS

By James Walker     Apr 3, 2017 in Technology
Android has become the most used operating system in the world, overtaking the decades-old Windows. It reflects the growth and mass acceptance of mobile devices as smartphones are now the computer of choice for many consumers worldwide.
The long-anticipated shift was announced today by web analytics company StatCounter. Before going any further, it's worth noting that StatCounter is one of many firms who regularly report OS usage. The figures vary by provider and data collection method. StatCounter analyses 2.5 million websites accounting for 15 billion monthly page views to generate its statistics.
In a press release today, StatCounter put Windows' worldwide market share during March at 37.91%. In a historic development, Android edged a few percentage points higher, reaching 37.93%. The change has been billed as a "milestone" that indicates how much smartphones have achieved in a third of the time Windows has been around.
"This is a milestone in technology history and the end of an era," said StatCounter CEO Aodhan Cullen. "It marks the end of Microsoft’s leadership worldwide of the OS market which it has held since the 1980s. It also represents a major breakthrough for Android which held just 2.4% of global internet usage share only five years ago."
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Windows is in no danger of falling off the charts anytime soon. It continues to dominate the desktop scene where the vast majority of devices still run Microsoft software. Google is catching up in this area, winning over some key markets with its range of low-cost Chromebooks, but Microsoft's overall hold on desktops is secure.
StatCounter worldwide OS usage March 2017
StatCounter worldwide OS usage March 2017
The same can't be said for its mobile products. It's of particular note that Microsoft failed to retain its billions of Windows users during the transition to mobile devices. Despite pitching Windows Phone as a companion to a PC with the same software and core interface – a marketing message it still uses today – consumers have all but ignored the OS.
Now Microsoft is retreating entirely out of the market space, analysts expect iOS and Android to be the focus of device innovation going forward. With it evident that upstart platforms in the mobile space cannot compete at scale with Google and Apple, the two companies are locked into head-to-head competition. The number of remaining countries with undeveloped mobile markets is dwindling and soon the pair will need to focus more on retaining customers than gaining them.
Apple's brand appeal has been historically strong but there are signs that Android could further strengthen its lead this year. It is expected to finally lose its association with being a low-income platform, surpassing iOS to become the most profitable mobile ecosystem. It already sees close to four times as many annual app downloads.
Google's unprecedented success with Android is indicative of the rapid pace of modern tech development. The platform officially launched in September 2008, offering few more features than the "dumb" phones of the time. Less than nine years later, it's the most popular operating system in the world, having completely exceeded Microsoft's three decades of experience in OS development and customer retention.
If nothing else, Android also demonstrates that change can come quickly and from unexpected places. In another ten years, we could be using very different phones with software from an altogether different company. Google cannot afford to be complacent – just seven years ago, Microsoft was trumpeting Windows Phone 7 and hosting a bizarre "funeral" for the iPhone.
More about Google, Android, Windows, Ios, Apple
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