Apple faces some stubborn OS X fragmentation, but it’s nothing compared to Windows

“Although Apple has done a better job of moving its Mac users along with each new operating system than has rival Microsoft, the Cupertino, Calif. company has been unable to eradicate fragmentation as it accelerated upgrades to an annual cadence,” Gregg Keizer reports for Computerworld.

“According to data from analytics firm Net Applications, three OS X editions that were three years or older retained five or more percentage points of user share last month,” Keizer reports. “Those three editions — 2009’s Snow Leopard, 2011’s Lion and 2012’s Mountain Lion — powered 20% of all Macs in April. When 2007’s Leopard was included, the number climbed to 21.3%.”

“There’s no question that Apple’s policy of giving away its OS X upgrades — a practice begun in 2013 with Mavericks — has reduced fragmentation by pulling Mac owners onto the newest edition faster than did versions that carried a price tag. The current OS X Yosemite, for example, accounted for 57.5% of all Macs in April, 23 percentage points higher than where Mountain Lion stood at the same point in its post-launch timeline,” Keizer reports. “Windows is much more fragmented than is OS X, of course: As of April, about 17% of all Windows PCs ran 2001’s Windows XP, more than the share of Windows 8/8.1, Microsoft’s newest OS. And unlike Apple’s most popular edition, Microsoft’s was 2009’s Windows 7, which accounted for 64% of all in-use Windows versions.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: 6 out of 10 Macs run Apple’s most current OS. 8 out 10 Macs run the two most current OSes (OS X 10.10 Yosemite or OS X 10.9 Mavericks). 1.1 out of 10 Windows PCs run Microsoft’s most current OS. 1.4 out of 10 Windows PCs run the two most current OSes (Windows 8.1 or Windows 8.0).


  1. Part of what holds back some people on upgrading from Mavericks is slow IT approval for corporate machines. I usually get to upgrade my machine within a month, but I have a friend that was only given approval for Mavericks when Yosemite was just weeks away from GA.

  2. I’m running 10.10 on my work and personal computers, but my network of 200 clients I am running 10.8.5, which is stable. No reason I see to upgrade to 10.9 or 10.10 just yet. Plus our machines are about 5+ years old and out of my control. That is probably the biggest problem why I held back on the OS. But for basic graphic design with Adobe products, 10.8.5 is plenty capable and 10.9 or 10.10 isn’t needed.

  3. My 2008 iMac runs like a dog on Mavericks. Why would I upgrade to Yosemite, when reports of slow performance persist. Apple needs an upgrade much like Snow Leopard that helps trim code and improve performance.

      1. On my 2011 iMac at work, Yosemite is noticibly faster than Mavericks.

        That being said, I would like to see the next release of Mac OS be for bug removal, code efficiency, and performance improvement – rather than new features being added.

  4. Studies like these need to take into consideration the age of the hardware the OS is running on. If you factor out computers 5 or more years in age, how do these numbers change? I see no mention of hardware age in this article. If you do this, I bet you still see terrible fragmentation problems for MS and great numbers for Mac OS X.

  5. I hate the fact my still pretty darn fast (with SSD & updated graphics cards) mid-2007 Mac Pro is halted at Lion. Plus my G5 Mac Pro is halted because of a change in architecture to Intel with Leopard. Granted I need a new Mac Pro (or HP workstation for 4K & VFX work) but it’s not fun when my wife’s 2009 iMac has the latest and I don’t Of course that’s not always an advantage. I hope Apple does another Snow Leopard “cleaning up under the hood” kind of future release of OS X. And change back to that “Save As” feature of yore. They didn’t do anyone any favors changing that much more straight forward and less confusing command.

    1. I am stuck on Lion also. I have a 2006 iMac upgraded with SSD that is still a daily driver at home that gets intense usage as one of my family members is schooling online. I hope Apple realizes that it makes good hardware that is usable for many, many years and therefore changes their policy of phasing out the oldest gear and supports old hardware with new software for much longer. There is no reason that my 2006 iMac couldn’t run Yosemite’s core/secure parts. Just cut out the fancy stuff for our older machines, please. This would also be an environmentally green way of doing business. Apple has got the Recycle part down good, now please work on Reduce – Reuse.

        1. I upgrade on my own terms also – hence my 2006 iMac is still in use, however I think trying to force sales is short sided.

          A business does much better over the long haul if their kit is rock solid and dependable for many years as it will attract people back again and again – making life long loyal customers instead of getting the immediate sale.

      1. Unfortunately not in Lion. You have to use a hack to do that. Personally I think this change is one of Apple’s dumbest changes. It can screw things up in a heartbeat if you don’t have backups and many don’t. But thanks for the tip. I would rather see it as a more permanent Preference option.

  6. Apple’s biggest problem in this area is that its hardware is simply made too well, so people keep them for years and years. My old Macs get handed down to the kids, which serves their purposes just fine as the occasional need for writing school papers. Otherwise they’re on their iPhones.

  7. I can understand why people would stay on Snow Leopard. It was a great OS. Mountain Lion was also very stable and a pleasure to use. But people are still using Lion? Why? That was one of the worst OS X releases ever! (Mind you, I’m not saying it was strictly “bad”, just that it compares very poorly to what came before and after.)


    1. Agreed, but Apple certainly doesn’t make it easy to migrate to a different OS other ratcheting users to the very latest software version. I think that’s not very user-friendly.

      Given the choice between sticking with Lion and downgrading to Yosemite, the better choice is sticking with Lion.

      1. Paul, I think you are a little off here – I have no problems with Yosemite at work and quite like it.

        Anyway to Lord Robin, I stick with Lion instead of Snow Leopard, because Lion supports Photo Steam. I can take photos with my iPhone and they are automatically loaded to the Photo Stream, and as long as I open iPhoto once in a while, they are automatically down loaded onto my hard drive. Nice!

        Snow Leopard doesn’t allow this or I would be on Snow Leopard. When I can save up for a new iMac, I will move on to the current generation (for a while – 😊).

      2. “Downgrade”? I could accept moving from some OS X versions to Yosemite as a downgrade, but not Lion. No way. Yosemite is a golden OS compared to the sluggish buggy pile that Lion was.


  8. Windows XP was all right for its time, but OS X was clearly better. And OS continued to get better in every way up to Snow Leopard.

    Then Microsoft, as usual, continued to mess up. Vista was indeed disaster, but they got things straightened around by Win7. That was the last stable, user-friendly Windows. Meanwhile Apple continued to add bloat and distraction to OS X, such that I rate Mavericks and Yosemite to be inferior in user interface and productivity to Windows 7.

    OS X 10.6.8 remains the best operating system, period. The sooner Apple gets rid of its software B team and moves Ive on to peripherals and displays, the better. There is no excuse for the flaky performance and unintuitive controls that OS X presently offers.

    1. I agree, Ive’s minimalism on hardware design doesn’t fit with software design.

      Hardware should disappear, but the software UI should attract attention and mesh with our visual systems as they are.

      Our brains use shading and texture to more quickly interpret what we are looking at and what is in our peripheral vision.

      Someone should give Ive an intro to how the human visual perception actually works most efficiently.

      1. I watch my grandkids with Ive’s flat UI’s – they have absolutely no problems whatsoever. I think you need to put more effort into learning a new way of doing and looking at things.

        When Apple came out with the new flat UI’s, at first I wanted to complain and scream over the changes, but instead I decided to embrace them. It is not better or worse – only different. Even old dogs can learn new tricks.

        1. I don’t have any trouble understanding flat design interfaces, and I don’t “dislike” the current designs.

          But there is a HUGE body of knowledge on how cues like shading, texture and even variation in type faces, etc., let us process what we are seeing with less mental effort, distraction, and more quickly.

          This is stuff that has been tested for many decades. Visual presentation isn’t a new phenomena even if our mobile screens are.

  9. Apple is experiencing fragmentation despite giving out the OS for free. That seems to say it all. Apple can’t even give their newer OS away to many people. Why? Because it is inferior. Apple is going in the wrong direction.

  10. One in SIX Windows users has XP — which is almost 14 (fourteen!!) years old, and for which support had ceased years ago (and even extended support is no longer available).

    Babies that were born when XP came out are starting high school this fall!

  11. Some longtime users keep a registered volume of one or more older versions of the OS on a mountable drive somewhere. For example, I’ve got an old laptop clone (hardware gone now for years) that’s running Snow Leopard. It’s on a second drive on my Mac Pro. There’s several pieces of software on it that’s no longer supported. Appleworks, for one. An older full version of Photoshop for another. Also my old Parallels install with a licensed version of Windows XP Pro. If I ever run into old files or oddball Explorer only websites I have an option to boot into the old laptop running Snow Leopard and deal with it. Anything needing Rosetta… I’ve also got a Mountain Lion clone upstairs on a back-up disk. Both of these old version installs are listed as machines counted by apple as OS installs. Dirties up the numbers a bit. I suspect I’m not unique.

      1. Wonder if each and every one of our “old installs” are counted as legacy OS installs in the study cited. Some are, I’d bet. When I log onto iCloud and view my devices I see my Snow Leopard and Mountain Lion partitions listed as devices. Those are counted for sure. The effect of this would be to inflate the old OS numbers.

  12. My first Mac ran Panther. My current Macs run Yosemite. My MacBook Air, which does little work, is fine but my Mac Pro which is my workhorse machine is the most unstable machine, windows or Mac, that I have ever owned. For the first time in my Mac life I have had to reinstall the OS, wiping the system drive. A couple of months later I have strange issues with security which apple are helping me fix. But if they tell me I have to wipe and reload again I will scream…

    Safari crashes. Preview crashes. Backups stop when the screen goes to sleep, drives won’t spin down when the Mac sleeps. Handoff never worked – heck I can’t even connect the two macs by airdrop when they are on the same desk.

    Yes, they need a bug fixing release. But i think the problem runs deeper – apple have become an iOS shop. The Mac is an afterthought.

    And, maybe, they have lost their edge in software…

    Whatever else, Yosemite just doesn’t work!

    1. SunbeamRapier, would you happen to be using a late 2013 MacBook Pro with Yosemite? If so, your experience sounds just like mine. I did a totally clean install of Yosemite on my alternative partition that I use for repairs with the result being buggy as hell. I’ve never seen anything like it and completely blame Yosemite. The same MBP runs Mavericks like a charm.

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