No, gamers aren’t fleeing Windows 11 in droves – quite the opposite

A PC gamer in a racing-style gaming chair
(Image credit: Shutterstock / Gorodenkoff)

There’s just been a huge swing back to Windows 11 and away from Windows 10, in terms of the OS gamers are using going by the most recent Steam hardware survey for April – but there’s a simple explanation for what’s happened.

To put this in perspective, we need to first recall the previous month’s survey, where in March, Valve’s stats showed Window 11 dropping massively by 9.65% (down to 22.41%), with Windows 10 shooting up by 11.62%.

Now in April’s survey, we see the reverse happening – Windows 11 has increased by 10.98%, so it now sits on 33.39%, whereas Windows 10 has fallen by 12.74%.

So, what’s been going on over the past two months? The reason is revealed by looking at the languages of Windows installations in the survey, which were suddenly skewed towards ‘Simplified Chinese’ and away from ‘English’ in March.

Chinese was up 25.35%, in fact, in March, and then plummeted by 26.6% in April, while English moved similarly, but on a smaller scale (a 12% swing either way).

Analysis: Windows 11 picking up the pace

This means that Valve’s March survey was simply a reflection of a very different distribution of PCs surveyed, and the OS habits of Chinese people bore more influence here (as well as in other areas of the survey – GPUs also saw some big changes for example).

We theorized this at the time, but this correction with April – where things have reverted pretty much back to the way they were in February – proves that this was the case. So, as some might have suggested at the time, there was certainly not a rush of gamers leaving Windows 11.

In fact, if we ignore March’s figures – which we should for the reason mentioned – then Windows 11 is picking up traction nicely with PC gamers. It has gone from 32.06% in February to 33.39% in April, a solid increase of almost 1.4%, and a new milestone in fact – exactly 1 in 3 PC gamers (on Steam) are now using Windows 11.

More broadly, we also just saw Windows 11 reach 23% adoption with Statcounter, in the analyst firm’s April stats (pertaining to all Windows users, not just gamers), up 4% in the past two months. And so it seems that Microsoft’s OS isn’t in shaky shape right now – quite the opposite.

Whether that momentum will continue, we’ll just have to see, but Microsoft is certainly angling for that to happen with its recent declaration that the 22H2 update will be the last one for Windows 10. Ever. In other words, there will be no more features coming to Windows 10 at all, and the OS will just get security updates (through to its end of support in 2025).

Finally, we can hope that Valve will sort out the issues with its Steam hardware survey to ensure that these kind of confusing big percentage swings don’t happen in the future.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).