A Solid Core of Windows 7 Users Aren’t Upgrading to Windows 10
In January, Windows 7 reached end-of-life status. No more security updates are being issued for the OS and, as a result, publications and pundits have recommended that end-users find an alternative solution, including moving to Windows 8.1, Linux, macOS, or Windows 10 itself.
NetMarketShare data indicates that after declining respectably from December to January, adoption rates barely budged in February. Windows 7 dropped from 25.56 percent of the market to 25.2 percent of the market. It’s rather interesting that the NetMarketShare data didn’t decline more, because we know that Windows 7 is quite popular in China, where Covid-19 has led to factory shutdowns and a lot of people staying home from work.
For a different perspective on the issue, I decided to consult the Steam Hardware Survey. Steam’s Hardware Survey isn’t the best window into what high-end gamers are buying — the survey picks up every system on Steam and counts them equally, meaning the laptop where you play a handful of low-end games on business trips and the desktop you game on regularly are weighted identically in the tally — but it may have some utility when it comes to the broadest industry trends, like what operating system people are running. One interesting thing about Steam’s OS data is that it has always identified a higher percentage of users as using Windows 10 than the general population. This continues to be true.
The SHS reports that Windows 10 had an 80.37 percent market share in February 2020, up 1.14 percent from January. Windows 7 adoption fell 1.17 percent. Gamers / gaming-adjacent people have continued to swap away from Windows 7 more rapidly than the general population, implying that the end-users sticking to the operating system may be clustered in specific countries or demographics.
When Microsoft went through this problem with Windows XP, there was a great wailing and gnashing of teeth about the people who hung on to the OS to the bitter end. I suspect that this issue will resolve without much fuss. Most people who are still using Windows 7 probably either don’t know that it isn’t supported any longer or are aware of that fact but also know that support ended relatively recently. It’s not unusual for people to put off upgrading or repairing something until they see a particular need, and Windows 7 only hit EOL a short time ago.
Windows 10 has been shipping on new PCs since 2015, which means the underlying hardware in most Windows 7 devices is going to be 4-6 years old at least. In today’s slower-paced market, it’s entirely possible for a PC of that vintage to still be offering reasonable performance. Give it another 3-5 years, however, and even a quad-core 6700K is likely to look a bit gimpy in comparison with new hardware. This will be even truer in laptops — all of the Windows 7-era devices are going to be 2C/4T chips on the Intel side of the equation or Bulldozer-based designs from AMD. Already in 2020, you can buy a laptop with substantially higher boost clock speeds and more total cores compared with what was available when Windows 7 was available. Laptops also tend to age faster than desktops, if only because the act of physically carrying them everywhere inevitably inflicts more wear-and-tear than leaving the system to sit immobile every single day.
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