The rise of Windows 7 and 64-bit PCs

I dropped in to the Steam website today to check something else and ran across the current hardware survey. Now, this isn’t representative of the PC universe at large. Gamers tend to have more modern and more powerful hardware than most. But it’s still interesting as a leading indicator.

Under the Windows-only heading for May 2011, here are the usage statistics for different Windows versions:


Operating System Percentage
Windows 7 64-bit 40.64%
Windows XP 32-bit 21.63%
Windows Vista 32-bit 13.73%
Windows Vista 64-bit 12.13%
Windows 7 32-bit 10.44%
All others 1.44%

A few things are worth noting from that data.

  • * First, among Steam users, Windows 7 now represents more than 50% of all PCs in use. That’s an extraordinary accomplishment roughly 18 months after the OS was released.
  • * Second, XP is about to drop below the 20% threshold. Good. It had a long life, but it’s time to retire.
  • * Finally, 64-bit computing is now officially mainstream. The 64-bit version of Windows 7 outnumbers 32-bit boxes by a ratio of more than 3:1, and the combination of Windows 7 and Windows Vista 64-bit accounts for 52.8% of all machines in the survey.

Finally, where’s the Mac in all this? Among gamers, at least, it’s still a minor player, accounting for 5.64% of Steam’s customers.

12 thoughts on “The rise of Windows 7 and 64-bit PCs

  1. I wonder with the Windows stats, how many of those are running via a bootcamp partition or parallels? Not many I would surmise. My condolences to those who need to.

  2. Here in Austria it’s next to impossible to find a new laptop (not counting netbooks) that is running Windows 7 32-bit. When my girlfriend recently bought a new notebook, every single new model in the store was Windows 7 64-bit. ASUS, Sony, HP, Fujitsu – everyone.

  3. I remember back in 2003 the thought of 64-bit Windows hitting the mainstream market was considered absurd. Now most laptop machines are shipping with 3GB of RAM or more all running 64-bit Windows.

    It just goes to show how far along Microsoft have come with 64-bit versions of the client OS.

  4. The article is a good start, but as the disclaimer says, gamers are not representative of the general population. I’m sure XP use is still very high in that area. I know, I work with the website and over half the questions come from XP users. XP will die a long slow death when all of the older machines running it die.

    It’s logical that all laptops coming out come wit 64 bit OS. All the processors coming out now are 64 bit processors and have 4 GB or higher RAM. 32 bit won’t handle more than 3.4 GB RAM.

  5. I have an HP Pavilion series P6000 with Intel i5, Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit.
    Whilst I can run many applications within 64bit, I am still waiting for an upgrade from Adobe for their Flash Player to become compatible with 64bit. Many times I have visited websites hoping for a fast uninterrupted movie to run, only to be informed that it will not run in 64bit mode, so please revert to 32bit!!
    Does anyone know when Adobe may upgrade?
    Would appreciate your comments.

  6. I’m still a bit curious about the big differences between the shift to 32-bit from 16-bit in comaprison to the 64-bit shift from 32-bit. Seems 32-bit couldn’t get here fast enough, and 64-bit was a major struggle. Gaming and fun coding drove 32-bit into reality (of course this was before Windows ’95, which sealed the 32-bit movement in stone.) 64-bit seems to have been really shunned until very recently, especially by the gaming community which has yet to take hold of the goodness it can bring. Most every game released today is still 32-bit. From what I read, far to many gamers are obsessed with speed rather than experience. 64-bit done correctly usually has very little impact on speed in either direction. But the experience results are always higher. Makes me wonder if gamers are generally blind or wear heavy glasses.

    Anyway, that’s my observations.

  7. Back in January 2009, I custom ordered a desktop computer on At that time, on the model I chose, a 32-bit operating system wasn’t even an available option. The choices were for various versions of Vista x64.

  8. Steam is dedicated to gamers. Gamers are a very special kind of users, frequently using above the average computers (50% >=4GB RAM, 40% >= 4 CPU/Core, 30% >=Full HD Screen resolution, 25% >= 1TB HDD). Global statistics might be a slightly different.

  9. It is worth noting that Steam has only been available for Mac for a very short time, whereas PC users have had it for 8 years (I think?)

  10. @John Morgan: You can download a “preview” version of Adobe Flash Player “Square” which supports 64bit editions of Windows. It’s not yet finalized but you can obtain it here:

    I’ve already installed Flash Player Square on my brother’s Sony Vaio laptop with Win7 x64 Home Premium Edition and it worked great.

  11. Now if only software would catch up
    Its absurd that adobe doesnt have a final version of 64 bit
    until software catches up..the real potential of 64 bit isnt even touched!

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