An apparent plunge in Windows XP's market share in October has turned out to be a wild goose chase.
Hopes that Windows 8/8.1 was finally making brisk headway against the 12-year -old operating system were raised over the weekend as NetMarketShare's October figures suggested that XP's share has fallen off a cliff.
According to the bean counter, XP, for which Microsoft ended support in April, saw its market share plunge by 6.7 percentage points in October to 17.2 per cent (see graph below). That's almost as much as the amount by which XP's share dropped over the whole of the previous 12 months.
At the same time, the share of Windows 8/8.1 leapt by 4.5 percentage points in October to 16.8 per cent, according to NetMarketShare's data. Windows 7 remained well ahead of both, on 53.05 per cent share.
But those with a vested interest to get users off XP and on to newer operating systems saw their hopes dashed as NetMarketShare moved to clarify that the apparent shift was in fact due largely to a change in the network of sites it relies on for its data in China.
Several large Chinese publishers whose visitors are "heavily skewed towards Windows 8" have been removed from NetMarketShare's network, it explained on its website.
NetMarketShare admitted that this made the October data set more accurate than its previous stats, suggesting it has been significantly overestimating XP's share all along.
Rival operating system tracker Statcounter registered a much more modest decrease in XP's share in October, claiming it fell from 14.4 to 13.22 per cent month on month.
NetMarketShare's stats had originally been interpreted in some circles as evidence that Windows 8/8.1 was finally coming of age. Whether the unloved operating system will ever get its day in the sun is even more doubtful now as Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella talks up its successor, Windows 10, as its "best ever" for businesses.
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