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Updated on August 4, 2021 7:38 PM

Why bother with Windows 11 when you have Chromebooks (and Chrome OS)?

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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 in recent months that Chromebook sales figures have shown others are joining in. With Microsoft last week announcing Windows 11, I wonder if executives saw those numbers too and decided it was time to launch a new Windows desktop before Microsoft’s Azure-based cloud PC.

You do not believe me? Consider this: In the first quarter of 2021, Windows fell 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 computer market since the 1990s.

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

At the same time, Stock Apps reported that global Chromebook shipments were up 276% year-over-year, almost reaching sales of 12 million units in the first quarter of 2021 alone. Now, 276% is not negligible. And although 12 million is still far below Windows PC and laptop sales of 84 million units for the same quarter, it is not insignificant either.

PC vendors can certainly see those numbers. HP and Lenovo dominate the Chromebook market, with 7.5 million units sold, or 60% of total shipments in the first quarter of this year. Other vendors are benefiting more than ever from Chromebooks as well. Acer, for example, shipped 1.43 million Chromebooks in the first quarter, 178% more than in the first quarter of 2020. Simultaneously, Dell nearly doubled its sales to 1 million units sold. However, Samsung was the real winner in terms of growth; Its Chromebook sales increased an astronomical 2,233% year-over-year to 1.2 million units in the first three months of 2021.

For the first time in many of our lives, Windows faces a major 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’s me! – hold with its perpetual 1%.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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