Nearly half of all Steam users are using Windows 11 — but why?

Steam store showing on a Windows laptop
(Image credit: Shutterstock - Casimiro PT)

Recently, it was revealed that Windows 11’s market share has been declining as more users have been opting for Windows 10. Gamers must have missed the memo, though, since it turns out that Windows 11 is gaining ground as the most popular OS among Steam players.

Considering that my position is for Microsoft to simply give up on Windows 11 and move to launching and supporting Windows 12 instead, it’s fascinating to see gamers actually lean into the OS to the point that nearly half of gaming PCs surveyed by Valve have it installed.

According to data from the latest Steam Hardware & Software survey, Windows 11 is installed among 45.15% of Steam users, while Windows 10 has a 51.02% install base. Currently, the top two operating systems are neck and neck, with 11 having a shot at taking over as the most popular gaming OS, especially as 10 has been on the decline in that regard and all of the best gaming PCs today come with Windows 11 preinstalled.

But why?

It’s fascinating as to why this would be the case, as there isn’t much incentive for gamers to make the switch. There are more niche features like Auto HDR, advertised as a Windows 11 setting that would make older games look just as vibrant and clear as modern releases, but the setting barely does anything.

Then there’s the issue of advertisements appearing in the Start menu with no way to opt out, which — alongside the forced integration of AI into the OS — has made the UI more cluttered and annoying to navigate. It honestly boggles my mind as to why so many gamers made the switch with so little material benefit and so many downsides.

It’s possible then, that so many gamers have 11 installed out of convenience rather than any sort of material benefits. All current Windows PCs come with Windows 11 installed rather than Windows 10, meaning that if you purchased a desktop or laptop in 2022 or later you’ll already have it.

While nearly half of Steam gamers use Windows 11 right now, there’s a massive demographic of users who would rather stick with Windows 10 than move on, despite the End of Support (EOS) for Windows 10 looming over users by October 2025. Or, maybe that’s the answer. They could be waiting to move on to Windows 12 instead of dealing with the issues of using Windows 11.

Regardless of the reason, at least Windows 11 received a bit of good news after its fair share of bad press in recent weeks.

You might also like

Allisa James
Computing Staff Writer

Named by the CTA as a CES 2023 Media Trailblazer, Allisa is a Computing Staff Writer who covers breaking news and rumors in the computing industry, as well as reviews, hands-on previews, featured articles, and the latest deals and trends. In her spare time you can find her chatting it up on her two podcasts, Megaten Marathon and Combo Chain, as well as playing any JRPGs she can get her hands on.