After more than three years, Windows 10 has finally eclipsed Windows 7 to become the biggest desktop operating system in the world, according to Net Applications, which monitors operating-system market share.
Specifically, Windows 10 holds 39.22 percent of the desktop OS market, just edging out Windows 7 with 36.9 percent. (Windows 8, the misbegotten OS that debuted between 7 and 10, has comparably little market-share—not that surprising, given its terrible reviews upon release.) A decade ago, a Windows operating system surpassing its predecessor would have counted as big news in the tech world—but today, not so much.
That’s because the tech world is now predominantly mobile, and increasingly voice-activated. Microsoft’s struggles in the mobile arena are well-known: Its Windows Phone failed to gain traction against Google Android and Apple’s iOS; Windows 10 on smartphones also tanked. Meanwhile, its Cortana digital assistant (named after the helpful A.I. in the “Halo” games) hasn’t enjoyed much luck in the faceoff with Amazon’s ultra-successful Alexa or Google Home.
However, Microsoft has enjoyed more success over the past few years as a provider of cloud tools and services; it’s also pushed into A.I. and machine learning research. At one point, Windows was the center of the Microsoft universe, with nearly all services oriented to protect the platform’s market-share; under CEO Satya Nadella, however, the company’s new tagline is “Intelligent Cloud, Intelligent Edge,” which reflects the reoriented focus on smart machines and cloudy infrastructure.
So Windows 10 has hit a big milestone—but from a broader perspective, it doesn’t really matter all that much, because we’ve collectively moved into an area where mobile, the cloud, and A.I. are key. That doesn’t mean people will stop using Windows, even if many developers seem more focused on building applications for mobile than desktop; but a lot of attention is now on other platforms and tools.