Top desktop operating systems in South Africa

Microsoft’s Windows is by far the most popular desktop operating system (OS) in South Africa, with the software holding a share of more than 64% of the market for four of the past five years.

However, StatCounter GlobalStats data shows that its hold on the South African market has dropped slightly from a peak of 73.95% in November 2019 to 64.09% in November 2023.

StatCounter GlobalStats analyzes over 5 billion monthly page views of around 1.5 million websites to determine the leading brands and vendors in various industries and regions.

Therefore, this isn’t an exact representation of the actual market share of desktop OSes installed in South Africa, but it indicates the landscape in the country.

We tracked its South African desktop market share data from November 2019 to November 2023, shown in the chart below.

Six-monthly desktop operating system market share in South Africa — November 2019 to November 2023

Windows’ desktop market share in South Africa has declined steadily from 73.95% in November 2019 to 64.09% in November 2023, with slight fluctuations throughout the period.

Curiously, the significant dip in its market share to 49.79% in May 2023 coincides with a spike in the “Unknown” category. This could mean that StatCounter mistook unknown versions of Windows to be “Unknown” OSes.

As of November 2023, the “Unknown” category had the second-highest market share in the country at 20.38%, compared to third place-holder Apple’s MacOS at 9.81%.

Between July 2019 and November 2020, MacOS’s market share in South Africa was higher than the “Unknown” category for a short while. However, it has been lower since November 2020 onwards.

Currently, the Apple operating system’s share of the South African market sits at 9.81%, while it was as high as 17.94% in May 2020.

ChromeOS and Linux — which includes various distributions — have increased in popularity since 2019, although their market shares in South Africa are significantly lower than MacOS and Windows.

The market share of Linux distributions in South Africa has increased from 1.30% in November 2019 to 5.34% as of November 2023.

At the same time, ChromeOS’s share has remained below the 1% mark, with its share more than doubling from 0.14% in November 2019 to 0.34% in November 2023.

Free BSD’s market share has remained relatively consistent, fluctuating between 0.01% and 0.05% over the five-year period.

Annual desktop operating system market share figures for the period from November 2019 to November 2023 in South Africa are summarised in the table below.

Desktop operating system market share in South Africa
Operating system November 2023 November 2022 November 2021 November 2020 November 2019
Windows 64.09% 69.38% 67.96% 71.09% 73.95%
MacOS 9.81% 9.87% 10.50% 10.68% 14.21%
Linux 5.34% 1.68% 1.15% 1.14% 1.30%
Chrome OS 0.34% 0.32% 0.32% 0.18% 0.14%
Free BSD 0.04% 0.05% 0.03% 0.01% 0.01%
Unknown 20.38% 18.70% 20.04% 16.90% 10.39%

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Top desktop operating systems in South Africa