For the first time in many years, Windows XP may no longer be the most widely used version of Windows. At least, that's what the latest data from Net Application says. The research firm's figures for the month of August show Windows 7 with the largest usage share, 42.76%, just ahead of Windows XP, which seized a slightly smaller 42.52% share.
Net Applications says it obtains its usage share data from "the browsers of site visitors to our exclusive on-demand network of live stats customers." Those site visitors number "approximately 160 million" each month, which sounds like a pretty healthy sample size.
As you can see in the historical graph above, Windows 7 has been steadily growing in popularity over the past year or so, while Windows XP's user base has been shrinking slowly. Vista is on the decline, too—at 6.72%, its August usage share is only a small fraction of Windows 7's and XP's. The aggregate share for the last two versions of OS X is smaller still, but only by about one percentage point.
It's nice to see folks slowly abandoning Windows XP. The OS has some unfortunate security shortcomings, and it's getting seriously long in the tooth. We're actually about a month and a half away from its 11th birthday. It'll be interesting to see whether Windows 8's arrival this fall will accelerate XP's demise. (Thanks to CNet News for the tip.)