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Apple's OS X tops 8 percent of users for the first time

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March 17, 2014

According to market research firms NetMarketShare and StatCounter, Windows' market share has dropped to below 90 percent for the first time since the mid 1990s when the absolute contender was Windows 95.

NetMarketShare calculates that Windows' market share, that's all versions of Windows from XP onward for laptops and desktops, dipped to a 89.96 percent share this month.

For its part, StatCounter is only slightly more pessimistic, reporting a 89.22 percent market share for the same operating systems and the same time period.

To be sure, Apple's OS X operating system still remains far behind, but has nevertheless topped 8 percent for the first time in recent memory. And that's quite a feat.

NetMarketShare places its laptop and desktop market share at 8.16 percent. StatCounter says that OS X has an 8.34 percent market share.

The Mac's overall numbers are nothing that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella will lose sleep over any time soon, but the trend lines for both Windows and OS X are certainly something that should catch his attention.

Just in 2008 for example, OS X' market share was a mere 3.75 percent, and in 2000 it was even lower at 2.84 percent.

Oh but before you ask, according to StatCounter's numbers, Linux's overall market share stood at around 0.62 percent as 2008 came to a close, and has risen to a little over 1.75 percent as of March 15.

Of course, while most companies would be extremely happy with a global market share nearing 90 percent, no market domination is eternal, and especially in a market that's changing as rapidly as the PC market is today.

And while Microsoft will likely continue to rule both the desktop and laptop markets for the foreseeable future, the former is getting a bit anemic and the latter is being attacked by millions of tablets, especially the Chromebook lately.

As the StatCounter numbers reveal, the market shares of both Windows 8 and Windows 7 have leveled off, at least for now. Microsoft is not forthcoming about the sales of its Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro, but even a quick stroll through the Starbucks of the world doesn't exactly demonstrate the they're becoming the laptop/tablet of choice of the next generation either.

But of course, there's far more to Microsoft than just its Windows OS. The software behemoth is more than holding its own in other areas such as its server OS market, online services and gaming, and even its Office offerings, among others.

But on the desktop and laptop operating system side, and in the rapidly growing mobile device market, Microsoft is a huge company with a giant issue.

Unless the company manages to reinvent its approach to those markets soon, it may well slip into irrelevance. We will keep you posted on these and other stories as they happen.

In other IT news

Apple has finally admitted to a security vulnerability in Mac OS X 10.9.1 that allows hackers to intercept and decrypt SSL-encrypted network connections.

The company has promised to release a fix very soon. Sensitive information, such as bank card numbers and account passwords sent over HTTPS, IMAP and other SSL-protected channels from vulnerable Mac computers could easily end up in the hands of attackers as a result of this security flaw.

Apple issued security updates for versions 6 and 7 of its mobile operating system iOS on Friday to address the same flaw in iPhones, iPads and iPods.

However, it quickly became apparent that the security vulnerability also exists in desktop and laptop computers running Mac OS X Mavericks, the latest public release of Apple's desktop OS.

The security flaw was created by a trivial programming cock-up, which causes Apple's SSL/TLS library to skip over vital verification checks of a server's authenticity when establishing a connection.

A malicious router, Wi-Fi access point or other man-in-the-middle system could exploit this to silently masquerade as a legitimate website or online service, and thus intercept, read and tamper with the private contents of a victim's supposedly secure connection.

Overall, Apple's Safari web browser and Mail client running on OS X 10.9.1 are vulnerable to SSL snoopers because they rely on the broken crypto-library.

Other Apple apps such as Facetime and iMessage, and third-party programs using Apple's crocked code, are all faulty as well. Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox are not vulnerable because they don't use the now insecure SSL library.

Tech-savvy users can use the tool command-line utility to determine whether an application is vulnerable by inspecting the libraries it loads.

Apple's broken SSL library is version 55471, so grepping for that number from otool's output will reveal whether the program is using the knackered Security framework.

"We are aware of this issue and already have a software fix that will be released very soon," said Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller.

Meanwhile, someone has set up a website called, a reference to the C code issue at the heart of the problem, so that users can check whether their web browsers running on OS X 10.9.1 are vulnerable to the bug or not.

In other OS News

Internet security researcher Jay Freeman has detailed yet another security flaw in the pre-4.4 version of the Android operating system which, similarly to the notorious APK vulnerability exposed earlier this year, opens a hole that malware can sneak through the OS.

Freeman – whose previous credentials include security analysis of Google Glass and uncovering the dodginess of the “iMessage for Android” app – has written in a blog post that he uncovered the extra security vulnerability in June, but waited until Android 4.4 (with a fix) was shipping.

In brief, the extra APK security vulnerability offered a path for an attacker to exploit the way Android used Zip file headers to verify the software. As Freeman explains, Zip still carries an obsolete of its history around with it: lots of filename redundancy in case files had to be split across multiple floppy disks.

To help a program navigate a file, the header includes a field for filename length – this lets an extractor navigate to where the file data is, by skipping the header.

As Freeman writes, the issue is this-- “The Java code in Android 4.3 and earlier, that extracts the file data to verify it, uses the filename length from the central directory. But the C code that extracts the file to install and execute it uses the filename length in the local header.”

A potential attacker could then take a verified app, add their malware, and modify the header length the C-code loader uses to point not to the legitimate app, but to the malware.

Source: Microsoft.

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