It’s official: the seminal era of personal computing and communications has come to an end as Android has surpassed Windows as the most popular computing device operating system (OS) in the world in terms of overall Internet usage across desktop, laptop and mobile combined, according to StatCounter’s market research unit.

Android’s global OS Internet usage market share rose to 37.93 percent in March. That put it just slightly ahead of Windows’ 37.91 percent, a worldwide first.

Most Popular OS
“This is a milestone in technology history and the end of an era,” commented Aodhan StatCounter CEO Aodhan Cullen. “It marks the end of Microsoft’s leadership worldwide of the OS market which it has held since the 1980s. It also represents a major breakthrough for Android which held just 2.4% of global internet usage share only five years ago.”

StatCounter’s market data highlights how far and how fast mobile devices have come to be relied on as a primary means of accessing the Internet, as well as the rise of Asian countries as leading drivers of market growth.

Most Popular OS

Growing numbers of Americans who do not have home broadband service rely on their smartphones for Internet access, Pew Research Center highlights in recent market research. Twelve percent of those responding to Pew surveys said they were “smartphone dependent” as of year-end 2016. That’s up 4 points since 2013.

Furthermore, moble app use continues to grow and smartphone users are spending more time using them, according to the latest market data from Yahoo’s Flurry. Usage of individual mobile apps increased an average 11 percent year-over-year in 2016, while the time spent using apps surged 69 percent higher, Flurry highlights.

Microsoft is Not Done Yet
Microsoft’s Windows still dominates the world of desktop and laptop computer OS, accounting for 84 percent of Internet usage worldwide in March, however.

Moreover, Windows (all versions considered) maintained its leading position across all device platforms in North America and Europe. Windows’ North America March market share came in at 39.5 percent. Running second was iOS at 25.7 percent, followed by Android at 23.6 percent.

Windows’ ongoing dominance is more pronounced in Europe. Windows’ European market share for March totaled 51.7 percent, more than twice that of Android’s 23.6 percent.

Those regional statistics contrast sharply with corresponding results from Asia, where Android’s market share totaled 52.2 percent as compared to Windows’ 29.2 percent market share.

“Windows won the desktop war but the battlefield moved on,” Cullen said. “It will be difficult for Microsoft to make inroads in mobile but the next paradigm shift might give it the opportunity to regain dominance. That could be in Augmented Reality, AI, Voice or Continuum (a product that aims to replace a desktop and smartphone with a single Microsoft powered phone).”

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