When Windows 10 was first released by Microsoft, the company was so keen on expanding its userbase and doing away with older versions that it came as a free upgrade for Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8.1 users. Despite all of these efforts, there are still many people (likely including you or someone you know) who continue to rely on older versions. The market share for the newest version of the operating system for the majority of 2016 has hovered around seventeen percent, while Windows 7’s market share still gobbles around half of all systems.
This isn’t necessarily a good sign, obviously, but it also leaves us with one very important question: how did things get this way?
We’re Experiencing the XP-To-Vista Phenomenon All Over Again
Windows XP was arguably one of the most successful iterations of its family with roughly ten percent of the entire world still hooked up to it in 2016 (according to the NetMarketShare stat linked earlier) despite Microsoft refusing to continue supporting the system with updates since April 2014. Attempts have been made to plug the security holes the OS had and Vista came out with in early 2007.
Because of its clunky interface and resource-hungry applications, people continued to favor the operating system that Microsoft had released six years prior. Then along came Windows 7 in 2009, and many of the issues plaguing Vista have been solved, reaching new heights in popularity with a sleeker graphical interface and more organized buttons and gizmos. It was user-friendly, had a more temperate approach to memory usage, and played well with older programs that had been designed for XP. It was, in essence, the worthy successor.
The release of Windows 8 was more of a “let’s try something new because why not?” approach. Its impact created lots of controversy with the removal (and subsequent replacement in 8.1) of the Start menu and a more touch-friendly interface (on systems in which the vast majority of screens did not have touch capability). As of October 2016, this OS’ market share is below XP’s (by that time, XP was 15 years old).
Windows 10 was an attempt to fix this and herald a new era that would name a successor to 7. Alas, the main attitude of users was “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Windows 7 continued to gain market share despite every effort possible to wave the newer version in front of everyone with a screen.
Then Came The Rumors and Controversies
Windows 8 wasn’t the only attempt at a successor that was mired in controversy. From rumors of spying to actual founded accusations of intense data mining on its users, Microsoft had a lot to answer for when reporters began prying into Windows 10 with a more sober perspective.
The controversies didn’t end there. In an attempt to push installation of the operating system further than a simple “we’re offering it for free,” the update that would install the new version on systems running Windows 7 and 8 went from being optional to receiving a “recommended” status. Although it may be argued that updates can be rejected, default systems would often install recommended updates automatically. Some people have restarted their systems only to later discover that Windows 10 was installed without their permission.
These controversies have ultimately demolished the popularity of an operating system that would have otherwise been promising. Even more troubling for Microsoft is the fact that Linux is becoming an easier alternative for mainstream users to adapt to. The strengthening of this operating system could cause long-term problems if Microsoft doesn’t adapt quickly to the demands of their userbase. There’s a reason they keep using Windows 7 just as there is an equally relevant reason why an increasing number of people are just kicking the franchise out of their systems and installing Linux distributions (which compose roughly seven percent of 2016’s market share).
What if Microsoft decided to stop support for Windows 7 someday? Would you switch to the next best thing or abandon the OS entirely and go for a Mac or Linux setup? Tell us in a comment!
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