Why worry with Windows 11 when you’ve got Chromebooks (and Chrome OS)?

I’ve been preaching the benefits of Chromebooks over Windows since the first commercial Chromebook, the Samsung Series 5, rolled off the production line in June 2011 — 10 years ago. But it’s only been in recent months that Chromebook sales numbers have shown that others are getting on board. With Microsoft last week announcing Windows 11, I wonder if the execs have also seen those numbers and decided it was time to rush out a new Windows desktop ahead of Microsoft’s Azure-based Cloud PC.

Don’t believe me? Consider this: in 2021’s first quarter, Windows dropped to 75% of the global PC market from more than 80% in 2020, according to IDC analyst Linn Huang. Windows hasn’t had such a small share of the desktop market since the 1990s.

Windows used to dominate the desktop. By Statista’s count, in January 2013, Windows had almost 91% of the market. But it’s been slowly declining ever since, and by November Statist had pegged Windows’s market share at 73%. 

At the same time, Stock Apps reported global Chromebook shipments soared by 276% year-over-year — and almost reached 12 million unit sales in the first quarter of 2021 alone. Now, 276% is nothing to sneeze at. And while 12 million is still far below Windows laptop and PC sales of 84 million units for the same quarter, it’s not insignificant either.

PC vendors certainly can see those numbers. HP and Lenovo rule the Chromebook market, with 7.5 million sold units ,or 60% of total shipments in the first quarter of this year. Other vendors are also profiting more than ever from Chromebooks. Acer, for example, shipped 1.43 million Chromebooks in Q1 — up 178% from Q1 2020. Simultaneously, Dell practically doubled its sales to 1 million units sold. Samsung, however, was the real winner in terms of growth; its Chromebook sales gained an astronomical 2233% year-over-year to 1.2 million units in the first three months of 2021.

For the first time in many of our lifetimes, Windows actually faces a significant challenge on the desktop. Apple and Mac fans, of course, have always had their 10% or so of the market, while hardcore Linux users — that would be me! — hangs on with its perpetual 1%.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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