How Microsoft has kept Windows on top for two decades

If you own a PC, you are likely running Windows, the operating system Microsoft has been offering since 1985.

Even if people buy modern Macs with energy-guzzling arm chips and even some students and corporate employees pick up Chromebooks during the pandemic, Windows still holds an 83% share of the PC market, according to technology research firm Gartner. It’s been in pole position without interruption since Gartner got the hang of it in 2000, and probably at least a decade before that.

Windows now accounts for 14% of Microsoft’s total revenue, and in the past Windows has been more profitable than other parts of the $ 2 trillion company. When Windows grows, Microsoft benefits.

With the announcement of Windows 11 on June 24th, the company updated Windows again. New system requirements could lead some people to buy new PCs that could run Windows 11, and that would strengthen Microsoft’s Windows franchise.

Satya Nadella, Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft Corp., listens to questions from the audience at Microsoft’s annual general meeting in Bellevue, Washington on November 30, 2016.

Jason Redmond | AFP | Getty Images

Windows’ track record has not always been perfect. It took a few releases to become popular over its character-based predecessor DOS. Some versions, including Windows Vista and Windows 8, were poorly received. And when smartphones came along in the 2000s and Microsoft couldn’t achieve the same level of prevalence as PCs. “We missed the phone wave,” said Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president who has been with Microsoft for nearly three decades.

But over the years Microsoft has made Windows easier to use with additions like the Start menu and made upgrades available for free. And since many organizations have become used to deploying Windows alongside other Microsoft products, it is natural for them to stick with Windows. And that’s how Windows managed to keep growing.

Microsoft wants it to stay that way. It adds one of the features of Chromebooks – Android apps – to Windows 11. The stores will have PCs with the new version in stock in time for Christmas time.

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