Windows 7 appears to still be running on at least 100 million machines, despite Microsoft ending support for the operating system a year ago. ZDNet has been analyzing the proportion of PCs still running Windows 7 across various analytics reports. While each data source pegs Windows 7 at different percentages of market share, most agree that the OS still makes up for around 20 percent of PCs.
Microsoft has said for years that there are 1.5 billion users of Windows across multiple versions worldwide. It’s difficult to get an exact number of Windows 7 users owing to the different methods used by analytics companies, but it’s at least 100 million. If you drop Microsoft’s estimate of 1.5 billion users of Windows to just a billion (there are 1 billion active Windows 10 users), then Windows 7 is still on a massive amount of PCs. In reality, it could still be in use by more than 200 million devices worldwide.
Dell’s XPS 13 is a popular Windows 10 machine. Photo by Monica Chin / The Verge
Support for Windows 7 ended in January 2020, nearly 11 years after the OS first launched with its “I’m a PC, and Windows 7 was my idea” marketing campaign. It quickly became a massively popular version of Windows, especially with businesses. It was clear from looking at the market share of the operating system last year that it would take a year or two to get Windows 7 firmly below 10 percent market share.
It may take even longer for Windows 7 to finally disappear, especially after a year when many have turned to PCs for remote working and home schooling. Microsoft reported an increase in PC demand and usage due to the pandemic. It’s likely that part of that PC usage also came from households dusting off old PCs and laptops they haven’t used frequently, and some of these devices could still be running Windows 7.
It’s clear that the pandemic has also influenced the PC market over the past year. We’re still waiting on PC estimates from Gartner and IDC, but some analysts believe we could have seen nearly 300 million PCs shipped in 2020 alone. That would be a significant change for the PC market, after PCs saw a first year of growth since 2011 during 2019. That growth was boosted by the end of Windows 7 support, and most analysts didn’t expect the market to grow even further throughout 2020.