Windows 11 Is Winning Over Gamers On Steam But Can It Catch Windows 10?

Windows 11 desktop
Windows 11 is gaining steam among gamers, or more specifically, is adding more Steam gamers to its ranks. That's according to Valve's latest Steam survey data, which contains a wealth of statistics for the digital distribution platform. The recently updated figures show that Windows 11 adoption on the platform grew by 2.94% in August 2022.

That is not an insignificant rise for a single month. Furthermore, looking at the data more broadly, Windows 11 now accounts for around a quarter (24.71%) of all Steam users. The question is, what does this data really mean? Well, it's complicated.

For one, bear in mind that Steam's monthly survey results are not all-inclusive. As Valve clearly states, "participation in the survey is optional, and anonymous." It's not clear exactly how many machines Steam pings, but it's not every PC on the platform. There are numerous factors that can skew the results.

Nevertheless, the survey data is probably the best snapshot of gaming trends available, given Steam's market dominance. Valve considers the data "incredibly helpful to us as we make decisions about what kinds of technology investments and products to offer," so it's not a haphazard collection of numbers.

All that said, here's the current OS breakdown...

There's still a sizable gulf between Windows 10, the most used OS on Steam with a 71.82% share (64-bit and 32-bit combined), and Windows 11. This is roughly in line with the landscape as a whole—according to the latest data from StatCounter, Windows 10 accounts for 71.91% of all Windows desktops versus Windows 11 at 13.08%.

By and large, new PCs ship with Windows 11, so it stands to reason that Microsoft's latest OS would grab more share over time (no duh, right?). That's definitely part of it. Microsoft has also been lax about upgrades to Windows 11 from Windows 10.

For gamers, there are certainly some advantages to running Windows 11. It has a better grasp of how to manage hybrid CPU architectures, which can yield a performance boost on Alder Lake and presumably Raptor Lake when it arrives. According to Microsoft, while its DirectStorage API is compatible on both Windows 11 and 10, it's better optimized on the former.

Whether Windows 11 ever catches up to Windows 10 in share, either wholesale and/or among Steam gamers, that depends on various factors. Perhaps the biggest one is the rumor that Microsoft is planning a return to version upgrades, starting with Windows 12 in 2024. As the story goes, Microsoft will release major new versions of Windows every three years, rather than continually updating Windows 11. We'll see.