Though other market followers have already intoned the inflection point between Windows XP and Windows 7 — namely, the point at which the old (XP) finally dips below the new (Win7) — tracking firm NetMarketShare has not yet seen its sampling of millions of PC users indicate that Windows 7 has surpassed Windows XP in overall share. That said, they do report that the numbers are getting closer all the time, as witnessed in the last years’ trend lines for XP (in blue) and Windows 7 (in green).
It looks like the inflection point could occur sometime during this month (August, 2012). That’s ironic because it’s occurring almost three years after Windows 7 launch in October, 2009, and only three months before the General Availability date for Windows 8, which was released to manufacturing on Wednesday, August first. The RTM version of Windows 8 will be made available to entitled users through subscriptions or service contracts starting with TechNet and MSDN users on August 15, and various other groups shortly thereafter. This all reminds me of the grim need to avoid gaps in the royal succession inherent in the French epigram: “Le Roi est mort, vive le Roi!” (The [old] king is dead. Long live the [new] king!)
I find myself wondering if the success and uptake for Windows 7 (which is now also running on half or more of enterprise and business desktops globally at long last) doesn’t make it less likely that the Windows 8 trend line will be close to crossing over the Windows 7 trend line three years from today. Windows XP’s long run — it’ll be eleven years old the day before Windows 8 becomes generally available on October 26 — may just presage a longer-than-expected run for Windows 7, too, given how reluctant business users have become to relinquish Windows versions that appear to be stable and reliable. My gut feel is that Windows 8 is in for a longer occupation of the crown prince’s chair than Windows 7 had, and that this poor prince may never actually take the throne, given others sure to queue up (Windows 9 and 10) behind him may get a better reception in the marketplace than Windows 8 has enjoyed so far.