One picture says 1K words but some provisos need to be added. The absolute numbers here mean nothing except share on the one site. The changes in the numbers are what is important here. It is quite reasonable to assume the changes in share to one site reflect something of the popularity of OS in the general population insofar as visitors to W3Schools.com are a sample of the universe of users of the web. They are not crazy people who do the opposite of what is on the market, for instance. Many run websites that they wish to communicate to the world so it is not in their interests to be too different. Still, they may be more tech-savvy than most. Perhaps they are early adopters. Whatever…
What the graph shows clearly is that there was some change in 2004 and another in 2008 which first dampened growth of GNU/Linux in this population and then allowed growth to resume. It could have something to do with no mention of 2008 Server anywhere on the site. It could have to do with disillusionment with Vista and a fondness for 2003 Server and AD. Who knows?
What is clear is that GNU/Linux share is growing steadily while that other OS is shrinking. In the last year that other OS lost 2% share, -2.5% decline, while GNU/Linux gained 0.4% share, about +10% growth per annum. The same sort of trend appears in other sources. If we count ARMed systems, the growth of Linux would be even larger. That is becoming huge, perhaps larger than the x86/x86-64 deployments in total soon. There could be around 450million new ARMed computing devices this year, about 400 million smartphones and 50million tablets. We have already seen a couple of ARMed general purpose computers coming with keyboard, monitor, and mouse. There will be more. People will buy them to save $100 or more on the purchase price. The licensing fees of that other OS have nowhere to hide. The vapourware of “8” will not freeze the market.
If ARMed devices are counted, we should see a rapid decrease in share of that other OS this year. How large it will be remains to be seen but it could be as large as -50% of shipments if none of the new ARMed devices use that other OS and perhaps more if ARMed devices cut into sales of x86 equipment. Then there are thin clients. ARM could do well there except many still cling to that other OS or x86. The net result will be a doubling or more in the rate of decline of that other OS and a doubling or more in the rate of growth of GNU/Linux.
Wikipedia which gets the vast majority of its clicks from English-speaking countries, shows that other OS with 82% share in February 2011 but 87% in February 2010, a -5% share change in one year. Wikipedia counts ARMed visits. In the same period Linux jumped from 1.65% to 2.47% share, a growth rate of 50%. We see now that iPad2 has sold out so the ramp in ARMed clients will continue. People who want Internet access Now! on a tablet will not be willing to wait weeks for their fix.