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How Microsoft has kept Windows on top for two decades



If you own a PC, chances are it’s running Windows, the operating system that Microsoft has been offering since 1985.

Even with people buying modern Macs with energy-releasing arm chips, and even some students and business workers picking up Chromebooks during the pandemic, Windows still has an 83% market share for PCs, according to technology industry research firm Gartner. It has been in pole position uninterruptedly since Gartner kept track of it in 2000, and probably for at least a decade before that as well.

Today, Windows represents 1

4% of Microsoft’s total revenue, and historically Windows has been more profitable than other parts of the company at $ 2 trillion. As Windows grows, Microsoft has advantages.

So the company is updating Windows again with the announcement of Windows 11 on June 24. New system requirements could lead to someone buying new PCs that can run Windows 11, and this will increase Microsoft’s Windows franchise.

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft Corp., listens to the audience’s questions at Microsoft’s annual shareholders’ meeting in Bellevue, Washington on November 30, 2016.

Jason Redmond | AFP | Getty Images

The Windows track record has not always been perfect. It took a few releases to gain popularity over its character-based predecessor, DOS. Some versions, including Windows Vista and Windows 8, were poorly received. And then smartphones appeared in the 2000s, and Microsoft was not able to achieve the same prevalence as it did on PCs. “We missed the phone wave,” said Yusuf Mehdi, an executive vice president who has been with Microsoft for nearly three decades.

But over the years, Microsoft has made Windows easier to use, with additions like the Start menu, and made upgrades for free. And because many organizations have become accustomed to distributing Windows with other Microsoft products, it’s natural for them to stick with Windows. And then Windows has managed to keep growing.

Microsoft wants to keep it that way. It adds one of the features of Chromebooks – Android apps – to Windows 11. Stores are making PCs with the new release in time for the holidays.


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