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March 6, 2024

Rise in Linux Market Share Surpasses 4% as macOS Dominance Wanes


Scharon Harding – Mar 5, 2024 6:44 pm UTC

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).

According to Statcounter’s international graph, macOS adoption saw a significant drop between November and December 2023. There’s no clear explanation as to why this occurred; we could be dealing with an error margin. Just remember that we are only looking at data from one source. Other possible explanation for the drop could be the increase in the “Unknown” category over the same timeframe. It’s possible that this “Unknown” category includes particularly new or obsolete versions of operating systems.

Interestingly, Apple’s worldwide computer market share increased from 8.6 percent in Q2 2023 to 10.6 percent in Q3 2023, before decreasing to 8.5 percent in Q4 2023, as reported by IDC. Between 2022 and 2023, Apple’s personal computer market share reduced from 9.3 percent to 8.4 percent, according to data from IDC.

The most recent statistics from Statcounter demonstrate a surge in Linux usage over recent months. However, the main desktop Operating System players remain, and by a considerable margin, Windows and macOS, which represented 87.59 percent of desktop OSes in February.

In the United States specifically, Linux’s desktop market share was just shy of 4 percent, registering 3.85 percent in February. However, that is still better than the US usage data from June 2023, which was 1.96 percent.

Despite the observed growth, we are still a long way from seeing a Year of the Linux Desktop where Linux is the leading desktop OS. The reasoning behind this remains a topic of debate among many, for instance, Linux founder Linus Torvalds has suggested that the absence of a standardized desktop across all Linux distributions has curtailed Linux’s popularity on the desktop.

Regardless, observing the gradual increase in the use of this open-source OS, especially in the areas of fragmentation and app discovery, is intriguing. Although progress is slow, it probably will not lead to Linux reaching the top of the desktop OS pyramid. However, significant advancements – such as in India, where Linux seems to be the second most popular desktop OS, show the affinity that some tech enthusiasts have for Linux.

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