The amount of people using Windows 10 continues to climb, as the market share of Microsoft’s newest operating system overtakes Windows XP and Windows 8.1 for the first time.

Figures from Netmarketshare reveal that Windows 10 has an 11.85% share, ahead of Windows XP with 11.42% and Windows 8.1 with 10.4%. Windows 7 remains on top with a whopping 52.47% of the market.

It’s the first time Microsoft’s latest operating system has taken second place. In December it was in fourth place with 9.96%.

Windows 10 marketshare Dec 2015 Jan 2016

Windows 8.1 and Windows XP’s market shares have remained fairly steady, while Windows 7’s has dropped by around 3%, suggesting this is where Windows 10 is making gains, as people opt for the free upgrade.

Windows 10 is currently free to users until July 29, but following the unpopularity of Windows 8, it’s no surprise people are reluctant to upgrade.

Microsoft changes Windows 10 to a Recommended update

As we draw closer to the free update cut-off date, we expect Windows 10’s market share to increase. Microsoft is certainly being more forthright with the upgrade process.

In October 2015 Terry Myerson, head of Windows and devices confirmed the software update being offered to existing Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users would be re-categorised as a ‘Recommended update.’

According to Microsoft: “Recommended updates address non-critical problems or help enhance your computing experience. While these updates do not address fundamental issues with your computer or Windows software, they can offer meaningful improvements. These can be installed automatically.”

Microsoft has changed Windows 10 from an Optional to a Recommended update, which means it could be downloaded automatically on to your machine depending on your settings.

“Depending upon your Windows Update settings, this may cause the upgrade process to automatically initiate on your device. Before the upgrade changes the OS of your device, you will be clearly prompted to choose whether or not to continue,” Myerson said.

How to stop Windows 10 downloading automatically

Windows Update has a range of settings that let you choose what updates are installed when. Those activated will automatically be installed on your computer, without you doing anything.

On a Windows 7 computer click the Start button and type Windows Update.

Click Change settings and make sure the box next to Recommended updates is unticked.

You’ll see an option above called Important Updates. These are security updates that could keep your system protected, should Microsoft issue an emergency security upgrade. The safest option from this drop-down menu is: Install updates automatically.

If you are a Windows 7 user it’s worth reading Microsoft’s advice page to understand more about the types of update.

Even if the update has installed automatically in the background, it can’t install without your permission, so if you really don’t want Windows 10 on your PC, be vigilant with any pop-up boxes.

If you do install Windows 10, you’ve got 30 days to revert to your previous version. Check out our article: Don’t like Windows 10? Here’s how to get rid of it.

Has Windows 10 downloaded on to your device without your knowledge? Let us know in the Comments section below.