Bad news for Windows 10 as users shift to Ubuntu and macOS

(Image credit: Microsoft)

While Windows 10 has been steadily gaining users, especially after Microsoft killed off Windows 7, April 2020 actually saw the operating system lose market share, while rivals Ubuntu and macOS saw a surge in users.

This comes from NetMarketShare, a company that keeps track of what operating systems people on the internet are using. 

While it only records devices that are online and access certain sites, the sample size is large enough to give us a decent idea of the market share of each operating system, and it seems like it’s bad news for Microsoft.

While many people expected Windows 10 to keep on growing, especially after Windows 7 entered its End of Life phase, and is no longer supported by Microsoft, it seems like the operating system’s market share dropped, from 57.34% in March to 56.08% in April.

Less surprisingly, Windows 7’s market share dropped as well, from 26.23% to 25.59%. So, not a great month for Microsoft’s operating systems, but they are still the two most-used operating systems used on PCs – and by quite a margin.

The third most-used PC operating system is now Apple’s macOS 10.15 (also known as macOS Catalina). This is the latest release from Apple for its Mac and MacBook devices, and it recorded a pretty decent leap to 4.15%, up from 3.41% the month before.

Now, that’s still a long way off Windows 7’s user numbers, but that leap could begin to worry Microsoft if macOS continues to climb. It is now, according to NetMarketShare, the third-most used PC operating system in the world, leapfrogging Windows 8.1, which used to occupy that spot.

Uncomfortably for Microsoft, another of its rivals, the Linux distribution Ubunutu, also recorded a big leap, from 0.27% in March to 1.89% in April. Combined with other distros, the open-source operating system Linux is now sitting at 2.86%.

What happened?

So, what was the cause of Windows 10’s dip? As Windows Latest points out, the drop in Windows 10 usage during April 2020 corresponds with the global lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

With many businesses closing their offices, their employees have been working from home, and often using their own laptops and PCs instead. While businesses overwhelmingly use Windows 10 on their machines, it appears individuals are becoming more keen on macOS and Linux.

So, is this terrible news for Microsoft? In a way, no. As we mentioned, Windows 10 is still by far the most-used OS on PCs, and this is only one month’s data.

However, if numbers continue to drop, and its rivals continue to grow, then there could be cause for alarm. The suggestion that while businesses are fond of Windows, but their employees slightly less so, also won’t sit well with Microsoft.

Matt Hanson
Managing Editor, Core Tech

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. He’s personally reviewed and used most of the laptops in our best laptops guide - and since joining TechRadar in 2014, he's reviewed over 250 laptops and computing accessories personally.