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Microsoft Windows XP Losing Share to Windows 7

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Microsoft appears to be losing ground in the operating system market to itself. The Windows XP operating system shed 2.4 percent of global market share in December, according to usage share tracking firm Net Applications. That's part of a steady trend in which Windows XP shed nearly 11 percent of market share since February 2011.

But the good news for Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)? That decline has been more or less mirrored by a nearly 13 percent increase in share by Windows 7 during the same period. Windows 7 now holds 36.99 percent of the market.

"The percentage changes are almost identical," said Vince Vizzaccaro, executive vice president of Marketing for Net Applications. "It would certainly make logical sense that it's a replacement."

The Windows XP operating system is now a decade old. In July, Microsoft reminded customers that it plans to cease supporting the legacy operating system on April 8, 2014 and urged holdouts to begin planning migrations to newer versions of its Windows OS.

"Windows XP SP3 and Office 2003 will go out of support on April 8, 2014, if your organization has not started the migration to a modern PC, you are late," the firm said. "Based on historical customer deployment data, the average enterprise deployment can take 18 to 32 months from business case through full deployment. To ensure you remain on supported versions of Windows and Office, you should begin your planning and application testing immediately to ensure you deploy before end of support."

In the meantime, Microsoft is expected to release Windows 8, the newest version of the operating system, in the second half of 2012. A beta of the operating system is already available to developers, and Vizzaccaro said it currently holds 0.05 percent of the global desktop operating system market.

"That's a pretty large number actually," he explained. "This is representative of the entire world. One-half of one percent of the entire world is using Windows 8. For a test, I think that's pretty impressive."

By way of comparison, Apple's Mac OS 10.6 held 3.05 percent global market share in December and its more recent Mac OS 10.7 held 2.02 percent share, for a total of 5.07 percent of the market.

Net Applications collects its data from the browsers of site visitors (about 160 million unique visits per month) to its on-demand network of HitsLink Analytics and SharePost clients.

Thor Olavsrud is a contributor to InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals.

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