Sorry Windows, Android is now the most popular end-user operating system

For decades, the answer to the question “What’s the most popular operating system?” was Windows. You may not have liked it, but macOS, OS/2, Linux, you name it, couldn’t knock it off its pedestal. But, then along came smartphones and tablets, and PCs started their long sales decline. In March 2017, by web-analytics company StatCounter’s reckoning, Android became more popular than Windows.

StatCounter Operating System Popularity 2012-2017

By StatCounter’s numbers, Android is now the most popular end-user operating system. Others don’t agree.

Mind you, by StatCounter’s count, Android didn’t beat Windows by much. Android topped the global end-user operating system market share with 37.93 percent. That put it marginally ahead of Windows 37.91 percent. This is well within the margin of statistical error.

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Still, the operating system trends have been clear since 2012. Windows is falling, while Linux-based Android is rising. If Android isn’t really more popular by now, it will be shortly.

“This is a milestone in technology history and the end of an era,” said Aodhan Cullen, StatCounter’s CEO, in a statement. “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 percent of global internet usage share only five years ago.”

What’s been the drivers for this change? StatCounter sees it as being largely because of the rise of smartphones and the decline of PCs. The company also credits the growth of the Asian end-user market.

That said, StatCounter concedes the obvious. “Windows still dominates the worldwide operating system desktop market (PC and laptop) with a 84 percent internet usage share in March.”

How trustworthy are StatCounter’s numbers? Well, it depends. The company states its findings are based on 2.5 million websites, which generate over 15 billion monthly page views. That’s impressive, but other sites don’t show Windows surrendering its lead yet.

For example, the federal government’s Digital Analytics Program (DAP) tracks over 2.5 billion web visits to more than 400 executive branch government domains across about 5,000 total websites, including every cabinet department. By its count Windows is still the most popular end-user operating system.