Even though Windows 7 rocks the socks off the decade-old XP and the lackluster ball of consumer disappointment known as Vista, Microsoft has had a hard time convincing PC users to make the switch to their new (well, two years old) operating system. When 2011 first rolled around, less than one in ten North American PCs rocked Redmond's latest offering. Expect that number to look a whole lot different by New Year's; one leading analytical firm says Windows 7 will be the most common OS in the world by the time 2012 rears its ugly head.
Chalk the gargantuan increase up to enterprise adoption, Gartner says. After two-ish years of preparing to roll out Windows 7, businesses are finally getting around to actually doing it. As a result, Gartner predicts that 94 percent of all PCs shipped this year will be equipped with Microsoft's baby, which will boost Windows 7's overall penetration to 42 percent of the market – making it king of the OS hill. The biggest boosts should come from North American and Asian businesses.
Not a Windows 7 fan? Gartner says Macs have started selling briskly, or at least as briskly as Macs have sold in recent memory; expect to find Apple's OS on 4.5 percent of all computers shipped in 2011. Gartner only expects Linux to grab 2 percent of the global market in the next five years, and that number drops to one percent on consumer rigs.