Microsoft's Surface RT tablet remains the single most popular Windows 8/RT device, though its lead isn't as pronounced as a month ago, according to an update of usage statistics.
The Microsoft tablet is still the single most popular device, but its share of usage among Window 8/RT devices has fallen by almost half compared to last month, according to AdDuplex, a Windows ad-serving business.
The ranking is based on data collected from 71 active Windows 8/RT apps on the AdDuplex network on December 7. The numbers don't appear to say anything about trends in overall Windows 8/RT usage -- they're merely snapshots of the relative usage attributed to particular devices. So Surface usage could still be rising dramatically if that's also true of Windows 8/RT usage in general -- it's just that other manufacturers are also starting to enjoy some success in the market.
And AdDuplex adds this qualifier: "It's worth mentioning that since we only see data from Windows Store apps and that is the only type of 3rd party apps that Windows RT users can run, the data is most likely skewed towards RT."
The Surface's lead is "not as stunning as it was last month -- down 5% to 6% overall this month," AdDuplex said. (The site should probably have written that its lead has slipped by five to six percentage points compared to last month -- at least, that's what its graphs show.)
Last month, Surface led the pack with 11 percent of all usage, dominating the four percent share held by HP laptops.
But HP's devices, such as the 2000 and Pavilion series laptops, aren't far behind now. An HP 2000 series laptop -- one the company's least expensive models that typically sells for under $400 was in second place in the December report with three percent of usage.
On a vendor-only basis, HP is leading with 22 percent, followed by Dell and Acer. Microsoft came is in the No. 6 spot, down from No. 2 a month ago.
There is still some debate over the volume of Surface sales, as Microsoft hasn't released any data. But IHS-iSuppli told CNET last week that Surface sales are expected to top one million in the fourth quarter.
If true, that would hardly be a terrible beginning, since the device -- starting at $499 -- is pricey compared to the $199 Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire. The Nexus, for example, which went on sale in June, started at a pace of about 500,000 units a month and is now selling at close to 1 million per month.
And sales could pick up when Microsoft releases the Surface for Windows 8 Pro in January. That will run a full version of Windows 8.