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Internet Milestone: Android Overtakes Windows

When it comes to overall Internet access across all device types worldwide, Microsoft's long reign as the dominant operating system has come to an end, according to researchers at StatCounter.

The independent Web analytics company, which tracks OS usage, on Monday reported that Android overtook Windows in March for the first time as the world's most popular operating system.

For now, Android's lead is very slight. Android's worldwide OS Internet usage market share hit 37.93 percent compared with 37.91 percent for Windows.

[Click on image for larger view.] Worldwide OS market shares (all devices) from March 2012 to March 2017. (Source: StatCounter)

How stable is a lead based on two hundredths of a percentage point? Based on current trends, it's not likely that Microsoft will grab the worldwide title back any time soon on the metric, which includes mobile phones and tablets along with desktops and laptops, according to a statement from StatCounter CEO Aodhan Cullen.

"This is a milestone in technology history and the end of an era," Cullen pronounced. "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."

By segment and geography, there are several areas where Microsoft retains its lead. First is worldwide PC and laptop Internet access, where Microsoft built its dominant position and which Windows still leads by a healthy margin, with an 84 percent share in March, according to StatCounter.

[Click on image for larger view.] Worldwide OS market shares (for PCs and tablets combined) for March 2017. (Source: StatCounter)

Then there is the lucrative North America market, where Windows still holds a lead across all platforms (40 percent share), and where Android (21 percent) has yet to surpass iOS (26 percent). Microsoft's advantage remains even more pronounced in Europe, with Windows leading Android 52 percent to 24 percent.

But alongside incremental gains in those important markets, Android has built a dominant position of its own in fast-growing Asian markets. On that continent, Android is a 52 percent to 29 percent leader over Windows.

Posted by Scott Bekker on April 03, 2017