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Animated: Most Popular Desktop Operating Systems Since 2003



The Most Popular Desktop Operating Systems Since 2003

Mobile phones might be the most common way of getting online today, but the digital and internet era started for most people with the humble desktop computer.

And over the past 20 years, a long list of operating systems (OS) have been used to run the most popular desktop computers.

Sjoerd Tilmans has created an animated chart showing the rise and fall in market share of popular desktop operating systems over the period of May 2003 to June 2022, using data from W3Schools and GS Stat Counter.

Microsoft’s Monopoly on the Most Popular Desktop OS

The story of the desktop OS market is a story of Microsoft’s explosive growth and market dominance.

In the 1980s, the fledgling company signed a partnership with personal computer behemoth IBM. Microsoft would supply IBM with an operating system for its computers, MS-DOS, and receive a royalty for every computer sold.

Those royalties boosted Microsoft’s coffers. And its release of Windows—a more visual interface than DOS—helped them grab hold of the PC market. The late 1990s and early 2000s saw different versions of Windows capture the market:

  • Windows 95:
    The now famous toolbar and Start menu made their debut here. The version also would launch Internet Explorer, once the world’s most popular browser.
  • Windows 98:
    An upgrade to ‘95 which supported more hardware like USBs and connecting more than one monitor.
  • Windows XP:
    XP quickly became a fan-favorite because of its stability, and a hit with both commercial and personal computer clients. Windows XP gained market share steadily upon release in 2001, quickly becoming the most popular desktop OS with a peak of 76% market share in 2007.
Operating SystemPeak Market ShareYear
Win 9557.4%1998
Win 9817.2%1999
Win XP76.1%2006

Microsoft doubled down on their next releases from the end of the 2000s to 2020, with some misses (Windows Vista) and some hits (Windows 10). Here’s a look at the most popular ones:

  • Windows 7:
    Released as the successor to the poorly received Windows Vista, it kept the same visual style (“Aero”) but greatly improved performance and stability from Vista’s benchmarks. In 2011, Windows 7 passed XP to become the most popular desktop OS.
  • Windows 8 and 8.1:
    Created for tablet-desktop integration, just as Microsoft released the companion Surface tablet. The beloved Start menu was replaced (an unpopular decision) and tile-based visual style introduced. However the dramatic differences between the desktop and tablet versions made for a steep learning curve, with the 8.1 release reintroducing the Start button.
  • Windows 10:
    The follow-up to Windows 8 kept the the tile-based appearance but focused on a desktop-oriented interface with quality of life updates. By 2018, Windows 10 had become the most popular desktop OS, eventually peaking at 61% market share at the start of 2022.
DatePeak Market ShareYear
Win 755.1%2014
Win 88.1%2013
Win 8.116.8%2015
Win 1061.2%2022

The most recent version of Windows released, Windows 11, had updated graphics styling, widget integration, and introduced Microsoft’s latest internet browser Microsoft Edge. But it received a mixed response and slow uptake compared to Windows 10, gaining a market share of 8.3% by June 2022.

Microsoft Vs. Other Desktop OS Contenders

As of February 2023, Microsoft had a comfortable lead in the desktop OS market, holding nearly 72% of the market.

CompanyOS NameFeb, 2023 Market Share

In a distant second is Apple’s macOS. The most profitable company in the world might make most of their money from smartphones, but Apple has still managed to carve out a small but sturdy segment of the desktop operating OS market. It reached its peak of 19% in April 2020.

The other tech giant in the desktop OS game is Alphabet, whose ChromeOS is unique for using an internet browser (Google Chrome browser) as its primary interface. Generally packaged as a simpler and cheaper device option—it was primarily released with inexpensive laptops called “Chromebooks”. More recently, Alphabet announced a version that can be installed on existing computer hardware in 2022.

Compared to the commercially released OS above, Linux is completely free to download and use, and is the largest open-source software project in the world. Although the OS is only used in about 3% of desktop computers, it was also the basis of Android and ChromeOS, and is the most-used OS on devices with embedded software—routers, smart home devices, cars, and even a few spacecraft (The SpaceX Falcon 9, for example).

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This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.

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Ranked: The World’s Top 10 Electronics Exporters (2000-2021)

Here are the largest electronics exporters by country, highlighting how electronics trade has increasingly shifted to Asia over 20 years.



Visualized: The Top 10 Electronics Exporters in the World

Top 10 Electronics Exporters in the World (2000-2021)

From personal computers to memory chips, the electronics trade plays a vital role in the world economy. In 2021, global electronics exports reached $4.1 trillion according to McKinsey Global Institute.

This graphic shows the 10 largest electronics exporters in the world, based on data from McKinsey, and how they’ve changed since 2000.

Ranked: The Top 10 Exporters of Electronics

Which countries are the leading exporters of electronics, and how has this shifted over the last two decades?

RankCountryShare of Total 2021Share of Total 2000
1🇨🇳 China34%9%
2🇹🇼 Taiwan11%6%
3🇰🇷 South Korea7%5%
4🇻🇳 Vietnam5%N/A
5🇲🇾 Malaysia5%5%
6🇯🇵 Japan4%13%
7🇺🇸 United States4%16%
8🇩🇪 Germany4%5%
9🇲🇽 Mexico3%3%
10🇹🇭 Thailand3%N/A

We can see in the above table how global electronics trade has become more concentrated in Asia, specifically China and Taiwan. As an electronics powerhouse, 34% of the world’s electronic goods in 2021 came from China, representing $1.4 trillion in value.

Home to leading firms like TSMC, Taiwan also plays a major role due to its prowess in semiconductor manufacturing—highlighting the island’s global importance.

But not all of Asia has been thriving. In 2000, Japan was a global electronics powerhouse responsible for 13% of the industry’s exports, but has seen its share shrink to 4% in 2021. The U.S. has also sheen its electronics lead shrink, with exports down from 16% of the global total in 2000 to just 4% in 2021.

Several factors have driven this shift. Instead of manufacturing electronics domestically, the U.S. has outsourced technology to countries where manufacturing, production, and labor costs are lower. However, recently, the U.S. is focusing on reshoring semiconductor production specifically given its role in national security, as seen through the $52.7 billion CHIPS Act.

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