Mac Market Share Hits All-Time High Following Windows 7 Launch

leopard-vistaMicrosoft’s advertising strategy with the latest installment of Windows is basically to none-too-subtly deride its predecessors, and it does appear to be helping Windows 7 gain traction among consumers. Unfortunately, it also might be contributing to the success of Mac OS X, or at least, it isn’t doing anything to slow down the steady progress of the competition from Apple.

That’s according to preliminary data released Sunday from a report by Net Applications which breaks down the Internet presence of Mac, Windows and Linux machines for the month of October. Microsoft’s hope that Windows 7 would slow the sure and steady pace of Apple’s growth appears to have been unfounded, at least at this early stage.

Windows still controls the lion’s share of the computer market, of course, with a huge 92.54 percent total share. But that’s down 0.25 percent from September. And yes,  Windows 7 did gain ground during the month, despite being officially available for purchase for only nine days at the end of October, but Net Applications explains that it held more than 2 percent going into the survey, owing to the use of pre-release versions like the beta and the release candidate.

Net Applications also points out, in a separate report, that much of Windows 7’s gain during October (it ended the month at 2.85 percent) came from XP’s market share, so it doesn’t represent the sort of “switch back” users Microsoft was looking for, only upgraders who skipped Vista in favor of the older, more stable OS.

Mac’s share jumped to 5.26 percent, up from 5.12 percent during the previous period. That’s a gain of 2.73 percent overall, which is a good number, but not nearly as high as the 5 percent gain Apple experienced in September. The slowdown might be due to a surge thanks to early adoption of Snow Leopard which is now coming to an end.

Note that Net Applications isn’t taking this data from sales numbers, but from visits to its client web sites, which add up to an impressive 160 million total. That’s a fairly large sample base. Apple 2.0 does point out that this particular methodology tends to favor devices like the iPhone, which account for more frequent web visits due to their ease of use.

The key to the future success of both companies will be converting the large Windows XP user base, which still accounts for 70 percent of all users. Both Apple and Microsoft will be looking to convert those users as they inevitably decide to upgrade. Holiday season numbers over the next few months should give a good indication of who will win out in the competition for those consumer dollars.

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