The ROI of free operating system updates: Who wins, Apple or Microsoft?

“By ripping the price sticker from their latest operating systems, Microsoft and Apple have accelerated the adoption pace of their newest OSes, according to data released Saturday by analytics company Net Applications,” Gregg Keizer reports for Computerworld. “But Microsoft is not Apple, nor Apple, Microsoft, and so it should not be a surprise that their uptake stories reached different endings.”

“Last month, OS X 10.9, aka Mavericks, accounted for 68% of all Macs running it and its precursor, Mountain Lion, an increase of 5 percentage points from December, said California-based Net Applications. Mavericks passed Mountain Lion by the end of the former’s first full month in the Mac App Store.,” Keizer reports. “Meanwhile, Microsoft’s Windows 8.1, which launched five days before Mavericks, captured 37% of the total combined user share of it and its predecessor, Windows 8, by the end of January, up from 34% the month before. Even so, Windows 8.1’s user share trailed Windows 8’s by a wide margin.”

Keizer reports, “Mavericks came out the clear winner, converting almost twice as much more of its immediate ancestor’s share than has Windows 8.1 so far.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: What do you think Keizer means when he says, “Last month, OS X 10.9, aka Mavericks, accounted for 68% of all Macs running it?” Does he mean, “Last month, OS X 10.9, aka Mavericks, accounted for 68% of all Macs?”


  1. First of all Microsoft doesn’t give free major updates to its operating systems. You first have to pay for Windows 8. Apple as of Mavericks is free. So he needs to get some facts straight to begin with.

    1. Windows 8.1 is just a bug fix update. You don’t get Windows 8.1 for free unless you already own (and thus purchased, either with a new device or separately) Windows 8 or RT.

      Mac OS X.10, the next major Mac OS update, will be free. Windows 9, the next major Windows update, will not be free (and will likely have varying levels of payment opportunities). Very misleading article.

  2. I’d like to understand if that percentage is of all machines, or just those that are ELIGIBLE. I’d upgrade, but some of mine are older hardware that doesn’t support Mavericks, so it won’t let me. I hope that doesn’t factor into the percentage, because 68% implies that the rest aren’t interested…. And since you get more years out of a mac, the number is misleading.

  3. Talking to a friend the other day, and she is still running Lion. I asked her why, and she said nothing show’s up on her software update, so she must be up to date with all her software.

    She intends on upgrading to Mavericks this coming weekend now that she knows the upgrade is via the App Store.

    1. OMG: I have the opposite problem. One of my Macs is ye olde reliable MacBook from 2006/11. It can’t run anything past 10.7 Lion. AND YET, the dimwits at the Mac App Store INSIST upon foisting Mavericks at me via the update interface. Idiotic. And yes, I’ve complained to them vehemently about it and they don’t respond/care.

      Thankfully, when I put the Mavericks ‘Update’ button on ye olde MacBook, the interface tells me the hardware is not compatible. And yet it refuses to remove Mavericks from my update list. It doesn’t get more stupid that that. Granny would be reaching for her shotgun. I hate the people running the Mac App Store. I loathe having to interact with them.

  4. He means, “Mavericks and its precursor Mountain Lion accounted for 68% of all Macs running it .

    Mavericks + Mountain Lion = 68%

    This is up from 63% in December.

    He chose a very convoluted way of writing it, but this is the data from Net Applications.

    For Windows I have my own stats:
    50% of Windows PCs are sitting there afraid to be messed with, and are running XP.

    25% of Windows PCs in use are running Windows 7 as Microsoft Office machines as dictated by IT managers.

    25% of Windows PCs have Windows 8 on them, and are on retail shelves.

    X% of Windows PCs are running Vista, but the respondents lied during the survey.

  5. Re: MDN Take
    To me, the whole sentence (not just the MDN excerpt) means Mavericks is running on 68% of Macs that are running either Mavericks or Mountain Lion (implying 32% ML). It’s only commenting on the Macs running either Mavericks or ML, not total Macs (presumably running Lion or earlier).

  6. “Last month, OS X 10.9, aka Mavericks, accounted for 68% of all Macs running IT”

    Not the first journalist to fail at structuring a sentence.

    100% of OSX 10.9 running Macs are running it.

  7. Microsoft and Apple are not comparable. Microsoft does not manufacture computers, so it has to make its money from the sale of the operating system. Apple is a hardware company, so the operating system exists to sell the hardware. Microsoft’s ROI comes from the software, Apple’s ROI comes from the hardware.

    All cars are painted, so in a sense all car manufacturers sell paint. This writer could ask, “Who makes more money from paint, Glidden or Ford?” And the answer would just as nonsensical.

  8. Why do they write such things as “OS X 10.9 aka Mavericks” when they don’t write “Windows aka Vista.” OS X doesn’t have a middle name, and if it did, it wouldn’t be aka.

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