How Android has surpassed Windows to become the most used operating system in the world.

Windows has played an unprecedented role in all of our lives, being the first operating system on which we learned the basics of computing. Fast forward to April 2017, and computing has evolved beyond world recognition. Most of our Internet access and daily tasks are performed through smartphones, and desktop use is steadily declining in households. Now, what a clear indication of the changing paradigm in the computing world, a StatCounter report claims that Android, the popular mobile operating system, has finally surpassed Windows as the most popular operating system worldwide across all platforms.

Statistics and market share
The report is based on Internet usage data, and StatCounter claims that it collected 2.5 million websites that generated 15 billion pageviews per month. The latest report, released in March 2017, states that the Android operating system holds 37.93 percent of the global market, while Windows stands at 37.91 percent. The difference is marginal and many still do not believe in it, but even if it does, the report is a clear indication that the world is moving to a mobile-first ecosystem.

The Linux-based Android operating system, owned by Google, is by far the most popular mobile operating system in the world, significantly surpassing its closest competitor Apple’s iOS by a large margin. Google grants Android OS licenses to numerous OEMs worldwide, and the number is growing every year. This has led to a massive influx of Android-powered mobile devices by multiple manufacturers and drastically reduced the overall cost of a mobile device. As a result, smartphones have grown in terms of versatility and the power of mobile hardware to perform tasks that previously required desktop-grade power to compute.

Adding to this is the simple portability factor of smartphones, the rise of mobile data and increasing purchasing power, all of which have dramatically increased the outreach of smartphones and mobile data networks. Desktops, meanwhile, have seen a significant decline for some time now, especially in families. NetMarketShare, an Internet statistics provider, says that just five years ago, in April 2012, Microsoft’s Windows systems (excluding Windows Phone) had a growing market share of 92.07 percent, with Apple’s OS X being the closest competitor to Mac at 5.42 percent.

Mobile operating systems were just around the corner then, and smartphones are now counting on devices of choice. By the end of 2017, the number of smartphone users in the world is expected to reach a staggering 2.6 billion. In contrast, although there is no fixed number for the number of PCs used worldwide at the moment, the estimated number is about 2 billion – something that has already surpassed the number of smartphones.

Journey to Windows
Unveiled on November 10, 1983, to compete with Apple’s revolutionary new Macintosh operating system, Windows was initially a barebone graphical interface for MS-DOS. Windows 1.0 to version 3.11 remained in this format until Microsoft finally unveiled Windows 95 – the first operating system based on a 16-bit DOS-based kernel and offering a 32-bit user space. Windows 95 is also where Microsoft introduced some of its key components such as Windows Explorer, the horizontal taskbar and the ‘Start’ button. The desktop operating system has gone through an anti-trust debate as Microsoft integrates Windows desktop updates and Internet Explorer 4 services into the OS.

The first true 32-bit operating system was Windows NT, which ran from 1993 to 2000. On top of that Microsoft has introduced a number of key features that will become iconic, such as USB plug-and-play, Windows Media Player and NTFS. , The file system used to date, is more advanced in nature than the older FAT system of Microsoft used in hybrid systems up to Windows 2000. Microsoft’s most iconic endeavor so far, though, is probably the most widely used operating system, Windows XP. It provided a much restored interface that was cleaner and smarter, and was eventually replaced by Windows Vista, which received much criticism for its many loose edges.

Since then, Microsoft has unveiled Windows 7, Windows 8 and more recently Windows 10. The latest version of the operating system still retains some of the key features of the 90’s, such as the taskbar and the Start button. To date, Windows remains the most popular operating system used on desktop and laptop computers worldwide, with StatCounter citing 84 percent market share and NetMarketShare 91.7 percent. Interestingly, just like Android’s simplified interface and multiple hardware partners, the unprecedented popularity of Windows also comes from a much easier-to-use interface and multiple hardware partners.

The point of change
“This is a milestone in the history of technology and the end of an era,” State Counter CEO Audhan Cullen said in a statement following the report. Even if statistical errors can still prove Windows to be marginally advanced, the signs are clear that we are moving to a mobile-first platform.

While it may be too early to call it the end of an era, Windows market share is certainly declining, PC sales are declining and Windows Phone is now obsolete. The way we see it now, Windows will be integral for now, spread across multiple devices. Android, meanwhile, is growing, starting with the first chapter of the migration from Windows to Android.

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