Steam Hardware Survey Bug Responsible For Strange Surge In Windows 7 Usage

Steam Hardware Survey Bug Responsible For Strange Surge In Windows 7 Usage
Image: Valve

Sorry Windows 7 aficionados (myself included) who thought Microsoft’s ageing operating system was getting a second wind based on the Steam Hardware Survey. Turns out the platform’s resurgence was due to an “over counting” bug, which Valve has addressed as of the latest survey.

To anyone paying close attention to the survey over the last seven months would have noticed Windows 7 usage growing, rather than shrinking, which doesn’t make much sense considering Windows 10 has been a thing for almost three years.

Sure, there are some edge scenarios where Windows 7 might climb a percentage point or two but, for the most part, the OS has been in steady decline for years now. Turns out it had the folks at Valve scratching their heads too. Once they investigated, the spurious numbers where attributed to a bug.

The latest edition of the survey includes a note regarding the problem, as well as the fix Valve implemented. The gist of it is that the survey is only meant to count each system once per year, however, some cyber cafes — predominately those based in China — were doing something (almost certainly unintentional) so their PCs were counted multiple times.

This gave the survey a bum steer, particularity with OS usage:

Around August 2017, we started seeing larger-than-usual movement in certain stats, notably an increase in Windows 7 usage, an increase in quad-core CPU usage, as well as changes in CPU and GPU market share. This period also saw a large increase in the use of Simplified Chinese. All of these coincided with an increase in Steam usage in cyber cafes in Asia, whose customers were being over counted in the survey.

The note goes on to say Valve is “confident” it’s fixed the problem and that going forward, the survey should “no longer [be] over counting users”.

Steam Hardware Survey [Steam]


    • Corporate deployments drive this far more than any other factor. They held on to XP in a lot of companies until the last possible moment too.

      • Yeah. Lots of companies without good it staff hold the opinion “It works, Why change it” without taking into account security vulnrebilities.

        • Staff retraining plays a part too. My father was in the public service when they went from Mac to Windows 3.1 and the amount of courses they got sent to, the cost must have been phenomenal.

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