(Photo: Sunrise King/Unsplash)Nearly a year following Windows 11’s initial rollout, PC gamers are finally beginning to embrace the new(ish) operating system. According to the most recent Steam Survey, nearly a quarter of PC Steam users are now running Windows 11. Steam’s voluntary hardware and software surveys offer decent visibility into what systems gamers are using during a given month. While the insights from Steam Surveys certainly aren’t perfect—we’ve touched on its inaccuracies and abuses before—they usually capture the gist of what’s becoming popular or falling to the wayside in desktop gaming. The idea is to help Valve and third-party developers evolve existing or future software into something marketable and well-liked.
Unfortunately for Microsoft, Windows 11 has historically had a pretty rough time with Steam Surveys…and in general. When Windows 11 launched in October 2021, it earned a bad rap almost immediately. This was partly due to dubious choices Microsoft made regarding the system’s design and defaults, but it was also thanks to the way Windows 11 security features affected game performance. These concerns mainly involved the operating system’s new Virtualization-Based Security (VBS), which negatively impacted CPU performance. Though VBS could (and still can) be disabled, the damage was done: VBS, along with the system’s other flaws, made Windows 11 largely unappealing to PC gamers.
Now it appears Windows 11 is making a comeback—albeit a slow one. In September, 24.84 percent of PC gamers who responded to the Steam Survey were running Windows 11. That’s up more than one percentage point from August and over 11 percentage points since January, when Windows 11 first began to see a bump in usage among Steam users. Windows 10 still claims the lion’s share at 71.04 percent, but that number is decreasing.
It might be that PC gamers are growing tired of declining Microsoft’s constant update reminders. More likely at play, though, are the gradual improvements Microsoft has made to Windows 11. The operating system no longer ignores non-Edge browsers as it did at the beginning, and a new update is bringing forth long-awaited changes to the Taskbar and File Explorer. Still, Windows 11 has more robust hardware requirements than its predecessors—without a TPM 2.0 chip, there’s no install—so gamers with older hardware might stick with Windows 10 a little longer.