Steam's latest hardware survey - more than twice the number of Linux users since December
It's a new month, meaning, for the most part, very little. Still, fans of minor incremental gains and losses in granular data do get the joy of a fresh Steam Hardware Survey, reducing down Steam's userbase into a comparable list of percentages. February's numbers bring strong gains for Linux, a new chunk of Windows 8 users, and the continued and seemingly unstoppable dominance of Windows 7.
The combined total of all Linux distros is 2.02% - still a fledgling next to the other major operating systems, but one that's growing quickly. December's confirmed Linux userbase accounted for 0.8% of the Steam user pot, meaning in two months Steam Linux gamers have more than doubled. It's worth remembering that in the interim Steam did host both a major Linux-focused sale, and a free TF2 penguin. One indie developer noted on Gamasutra that, during the sale period, his Linux sales figures were almost triple that of Mac.
Elsewhere on the list, Mac falls 0.37% to 3.07%. Given that the number is that low, despite Mac offering a wider library for longer, it seems inevitable that Linux will eventually become Steam's second major OS as its support continues to improve.
Meanwhile, Windows 8's slow but steady progress means it nearly accounts for a tenth of Steam users, currently accounting for 9.63%. Windows 7 is on a downturn, but a glacially slow one. It lost just 0.42% of Steam users, and accounts for 69.31% of the platform's population. This is almost certainly not the conversion rate Microsoft were hoping for. In fact, Windows XP 32-bit is still beating Windows 8 64-bit, although the respective rates of loss and growth mean the old war-horse may finally be toppled in the next couple of months.
Quick Disclaimer: Inevitably, whenever we do this type of Steam hardware round-up, someone points out that Steam doesn't represent the entirety of PC gaming. They're entirely right! What it does do is offer a handy glimpse at a relatively broad cross-section, encompassing both AAA and indie, with a bit of free-to-play thrown in. It's far from perfect, but it is what we have easy-to-analyse data for.