If you wanted another sign that mobile has truly conquered the computing world, look no further than the latest data from StatCounter, which shows Google Android passing Windows as Internet users’ operating system of choice globally.
In March 2017, Android represented 37.93 percent of Internet usage, edging just past Windows at 37.91 percent. Apple’s iOS came in third with 13.09 percent, followed by OS X with 5.17 percent and “Unknown” with 2.85 percent:
Android’s rising fortunes stem from its sheer ubiquity, as Google makes a concerted effort to expand its footprint well beyond smartphones. Earlier this year, the company announced that all Chromebooks launching in 2017 would run Android apps. Android Wear 2.0, the latest version of the operating system’s smartwatch variation, rolled out in February, with new features such as Android Pay and the ability to load apps directly onto a watch.
Meanwhile, Microsoft finds itself at something of a crossroads. For years, the company pursued a mobile strategy around the Windows Phone platform, but that ultimately proved disastrous; despite strong reviews for early versions of the Windows Phone OS, it never managed to gain the market-share necessary to challenge iOS or Android. In lieu of pushing a discrete smartphone platform, Microsoft then shifted to having Windows 10, the latest version of the long-running Windows franchise, run on as many form-factors as possible; but Microsoft has yet to make a comeback on phones.
Microsoft missteps and new Android features aside, the slow compression of Windows between the twin rocks of Android and iOS is merely one facet of a longtime trend that has seen mobile devices replace PCs as the center of folks’ computing lives. Although gamers still love their powerful desktops as the ideal way to deliver immersive gaming experiences, and many tech pros need similarly high-power setups in order to crunch data and build software, many ordinary people are perfectly satisfied with a smartphone or tablet as the primary conduit to their electronic lives.
Over the past few years, the tech giants have helped accelerate this trend by emphasizing “portables” such as Apple’s iPad Pro or Microsoft’s Surface tablets, which aspire to combine the flexibility of mobile with the power of a traditional PC. As mobile devices grow more powerful, trust that Android and iOS will only solidify their positions as the go-to for all kinds of computing needs.