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Microsoft’s free Windows 10 upgrade program was as controversial as it was a good idea. The company should be commended for making the platform free for a year. However, pushing the update on consumers ultimately backfired on the company. Despite the pros and cons, the free upgrade was a huge success.

The latest numbers from Net Applications show that Windows 10 was used by 21.13% of all PCs around the world during July 2016. That means Microsoft managed to get the platform on to a fifth of all desktops in a year.

Proof that the free upgrade (or the aggressive prompts) worked is in the consistent hikes Windows 10 has enjoyed. Through the year the platform has made jumps month on month in terms of its usage share. Through July the jump was nearly 2% from the 19.14% share in June. By the end of the year Windows 10 will be on a quarter of all PCs. In fact, it could even be on more than a third.



That will depend on how adoption rates fair now that the platform is no longer free. Now it is $119 to upgrade to Windows 10 Home and $199 to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro. The Anniversary Update (which arrives tomorrow) is Microsoft’s enticing factor to keep users installing Windows 10. An upgrade with a slew of new features, it should keep adoption levels steady for the remainder of the year.

And the Rest

Windows 7 remains the most used desktop OS, according to the numbers from Net Applications. It held a 47.01% usage based in July, down over 2% from 49.05% in June. It is clear to see that Windows 10 is making its gains from Windows 7.

In third place behind Windows 7 and 10 is Windows XP with 10.34%. The nearly 15-year old build, which is no longer supported, always makes for interesting reading in such market results. Not least because XP tops Microsoft’s main desktop rival, Mac OS with 10.11% and Linux with 2.33%.