'Threshold' may help Microsoft's Windows 8 and 8.1 use

The PC and smart phone would just be a slab of hardware without its operating system, and Windows has held onto the OS global market share top spot. But will it last?

Jeff Chiu/AP
Microsoft previewed Windows 8.1, an update to its flagship operating system, at the Build developers conference this week. Here, Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer addresses the crowd at the conference.

In the world of operating systems, Microsoft is king. For how long, though? November numbers prove that remains to be seen.

In a November report filed by Internet technology research company Net MarketShare, Windows OS dominated more than 90 percent of the worldwide operating system market share, taking the top five-most used operating systems, though this is little growth compared to October.

The top OS is Windows 7 at 46 percent, followed by Windows XP at 31 percent. Windows XP is the oldest of current Windows operating systems, and Microsoft is hoping to phase it out by next year to make room for the new Windows 8 and 8.1.

That’s where Microsoft could see some trouble. Though both Windows 8 and 8.1 have more market share than Apple’s OS X Mavericks, the latest versions of Windows are barely growing month to month. In October, Windows 8 posted 7.53 percent of the market share, but dropped to 6.66 percent in November. Windows 8.1 bumped up its share from 1.72 percent to 2.64 percent. That means combined Windows 8 and 8.1 share only went up 0.05 percent, which is weak growth for the most recent operating system that Microsoft offers.

Microsoft may have some tricks up its sleeve in its operating system future. Mary Jo Foley, a reporter at tech website ZD Net, reports that sources familiar with the matter say that Microsoft will be rolling out a unified OS update in Spring 2015, possibly named “Threshold”.

“Threshold” wouldn’t just be an update to Microsoft’s current OS, but a blanket update to gaming, computing, and mobile operating systems that unifies devices around basic Windows activities. That means anyone who uses Xbox and/or a Windows smart phone, tablet, or computer would see applications such as Office, Bing, and Intune, across any Windows device they use.

However, there is no confirmation from Microsoft on this yet, so we’ll have to wait and see if “Threshold” will come to fruition.

In the phone and tablet market, operating system dominance switches. Apple’s iOS takes over 55 percent of the global market share, followed by Android at 33 percent. Windows mobile OS only accounts for 0.67 percent market share. Though Android smart phones outsell the iPhone worldwide, iOS's dominance largely comes from the iPad, which makes up 32 percent of mobile operating system use.

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