Four years later, Windows 10 accounts for around half of all PCs

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft still has a few hundred million devices to go before Windows 10 finally extends its reach to 1 billion systems, but it will undoubtedly get there. In the meantime, Microsoft can celebrate Windows 10's ascension to accounting for half of the PC market, according to the latest data from NetApplications.

What stands out about the latest market share figures is the distinct fork in usage between Windows 10 and Windows 7 that occurred around February or March of this year. Before then, both versions held steady at around 38-40 percent for several months. Since then, however, the market share trends have gone in decidedly different directions, with Windows 7 taking a notable dip in July.

Whereas the two operating systems were nearly neck-and-neck five months ago, Windows now sits at 48.86 percent, compared to Windows 7 at 31.83 percent. That is a sizeable gap.

It's easy to explain why this shift is taking place, seemingly all of a sudden. Windows 7 if fast approach it's 10-year anniversary, and Microsoft is set to discontinue support for the OS on January 14, 2020 (be prepared to be badgered into the updating here in the homestretch, if you're still running Windows 7)

"After that, technical assistance and software updates from Windows Update that help protect your PC will no longer be available for the product. Microsoft strongly recommends that you move to Windows 10 sometime before January 2020 to avoid a situation where you need service or support that is no longer available," Microsoft says.

For Windows 7 users, the end is nigh, not that Windows 7 PCs will up and vanish over night though. As ZDNet point out, around three-quarters of computers in the UK's National Health Service (NHS), or 1 million PCs, are still running the OS.

That is potentially problematic for the NHS, as well as other enterprises sticking with Windows 7. On the bright side, Microsoft will give businesses the option of paying for extend support through January 2023, to continue receiving security updates. Those extended support packages will be sold on a per-device basis, with the price increasing each year.

Gamers are ahead of the curve in terms of migrating to Windows 10. While data is not yet available for July, Steam's monthly hardware and software survey shows that around 8 out of 10 systems pinged are running Windows 10. By and large, Windows 10 is the only OS in town for DirectX 12 support (there's been an effort to port DX12 games to Windows 7, but in very limited capacity).

Are you still running Windows 7? If so, do you plan on upgrading to Windows 10 before the support deadline arrives?