Microsoft faced an uphill battle with Vista, taking flak from numerous groups who were opposed to upgrading their existing Windows XP installations without reason. Vista's performance and initial struggles did nothing to help, but it has matured considerably since then and is now more warmly welcomed. Windows 7 has done a lot in persuading people to switch from XP, and according to a recent survey, Windows XP has seen a substantial decline.

XP, estimated to be present on almost 72% of desktops around the world, slipped around 1.1% percent last month, matching similar figures from the end of last year. The loss almost directly correlated to an increase in the presence of Windows Vista and Windows 7, with Vista climbing 0.9% and 7 gaining 0.3% – a minor figure, but enough to officially push it over a full percent of market share.

That number is expected to rise rapidly in the coming months once it goes gold. The assumption here is that when Microsoft releases Windows 7, it will gain market share largely at the expense of Windows XP. If true, it means that many people opted to skip out on Vista altogether.

Is this the beginning of Windows XP's phase-out? Perhaps just the tip of the iceberg – the OS has been "mainstream" for much longer than any other release of Windows. It will take many years before it disappears completely. After all, there are still Windows 98 and Windows 2000 machines roaming around on the Internet.

One thing is clear, though – people are slowly beginning to discard XP in favor of newer software.