Linux market share passes 4% for first time; macOS dominance declines


Gentoo Penguins (Pygoscelis papua) climbing snowy hill

Linux reached 4.03 percent of global market share in February, according to data from research firm Statcounter. That takes Linux past the 3 percent milestone it reached in June 2023. While we’re still far from the Year of the Linux Desktop, interest in Linux has somewhat grown lately.

Statcounter says it gets its desktop operating system (OS) usage stats from tracking code installed on over 1.5 million global websites generating over 5 billion monthly page views. The only adjustments the firm says it makes to this data are around removing bot activity and adjusting for Google Chrome prerendering. Note that when Statcounter analyzes desktop OSes, it also includes laptop computers, and Statcounter says it may revise its data within 45 days of publication.

As spotted by Linuxiac, Linux’s reported desktop market share was higher than ever in February. If you count ChromeOS as a Linux OS, then market share totaled 6.34 percent in February, although that number is actually smaller than what Statcounter reported in June: 2 percent.

But if we focus on the Linux numbers alone, we see the nearly 33-year-old OS’s market share growing 31.3 percent from June 2023, when we last reported on Linux market share, to February. Since June, Linux usage has mostly increased gradually. Overall, there’s been a big leap in usage compared to five years ago. In February 2019, Linux was reportedly on 1.58 percent of desktops globally.

Since June, ChromeOS adoption took a bit of a dive, representing 2.27 percent of the worldwide market last month. In October, Google’s Chromebook OS reached 4.01 percent market share but has mostly been declining since.

Windows dominance, meanwhile, mostly increased between June and February, when the Microsoft OS was reportedly on 72.17 percent of computers. From June 2022 to June 2023, there seemed to be a significant drop (from 76.33 percent market share to 68.23 percent). But now, Windows OS usage has seemingly returned to early 2022 levels.

macOS, meanwhile, has seen desktop market share drop from 21.32 percent in June to 15.42 percent in February. However, the Apple OS’s current market share is similar to what we saw in January 2023 (15.33 percent) and February 2023 (16.26 percent).

Statcounter’s global chart above shows macOS adoption taking a dive from November to December 2023. It’s unclear what exactly could have driven that; it’s possible that there’s a margin of error here. Keep in mind that these are just numbers from one firm. It’s also possible that the decline has to do with the “Unknown” category increasing during that same time period. It has been suspected that “Unknown” could account for particularly new or old versions of OSes.

It’s further notable that Apple’s global computer market share went from 8.6 percent in Q2 2023 to 10.6 percent in Q3 2023, and then 8.5 percent in Q4 2023, per IDC. From 2022 to 2023, Apple’s PC market share went from 9.3 percent to 8.4 percent, according to IDC data.

Statcounter’s newest numbers show an uptick in Linux usage over the past months. Ultimately, the big OS players are still, by far, Windows and macOS, which represented 87.59 percent of desktop OSes in February.

In the US specifically, Linux’s desktop market share missed the 4 percent line, hitting 3.85 percent in February. But that’s still an improvement from US usage in June 2023 (1.96 percent).

Despite this growth, we, of course, remain far from any sort of Year of the Linux Desktop, where Linux is the dominant desktop OS. There’s plenty of debate over why; Linux founder Linus Torvalds, for example, has suggested that a lack of a standardized desktop that goes across all Linux distros has held back Linux adoption on desktop.

Still, it’s interesting to watch usage of the open source OS grow, especially as fragmentation and app discovery improve. It’s a slow climb that will likely never result in Linux sitting at the peak of the desktop OS mountain. But big gains—like in India, where Linux has reportedly been the second-biggest desktop OS—highlight the proclivity that certain technologists have toward Linux.


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