Wakoopa, a social network for software enthusiasts, has released a list of the most used applications of 2008 based on the usage of its members.

Wakoopa has not just collated the most popular Windows, Mac, and web applications, but it's also identified newcomers that showed prolific growth during 2008.

Two important points to note before viewing the results:

1. Wakoopa is a relatively small community, composed primarily of tech fanatics and early adopters. The statistics reflect that.

2. The applications mentioned aren't necessarily the most frequently visited applications, but rather those that people have spent the most time actively using; that is, those with the highest user engagement levels.

PC

On Windows, it's no surprise to see Firefox and Internet Explorer as the top two most-used applications. Google Chrome is the only new release of the year to have made the list, showing extremely impressive growth from the moment of its release in September. Chrome does, however, still sit behind Opera in terms of overall usage, while Apple's Safari seems to have been left behind, at least on Windows.

The most popular new application of 2008 has been instant messaging client Digsby, with steady growth throughout the course of the year. Games such as Fallout 3, Left 4 Dead, and Trackmania have all shown positive growth, though primarily at the time of their release, with growth cooling off rapidly thereafter.

Mac

Once again, we see browsers Firefox and Safari leading the way on the Mac, closely followed by instant messaging client Adium. iTunes is a surprising miss on the most-used applications list for Windows (in fact, no media player made it); however, on OS X, iTunes is the platform's most popular media player, landing in fourth place on the list. VLC and QuickTime follow in a respectable 6th and 7th place.

Mail, the Mac's email client, remains popular in 5th place, impressive considering the rapid growth of web-based email clients such as Gmail. The one common application on both the Windows and Mac lists is World of Warcraft; clearly the game is both "a Mac and a PC."

In terms of new apps, the Mac welcomed a host of wonderful applications in 2008. Desktop media player Plex has shown impressive uptake, closely followed by the Pro-Tweeters Twitter client Tweetdeck. Although still in private beta, cross-platform media player Boxee has seen superb success thus far, and that looks set to continue upon its public release in early 2009. Other newcomers include social browser Cruz and recently released social media tool Eventbox, both very creative social applications in their own rights.

Mac vs. PC

There are a number of notable differences in usage between Mac and PC applications. First, the exclusion of any web development tools from the Windows list could highlight web developers' preferences for other platforms: OS X and Linux. The most notable absentees on the Mac list are word processors and desktop publishing tools; however, TextMate and Adobe Photoshop's appearance corroborates the general preference among creatives for the Mac as a platform.

Another difference is the number of media players on the Mac list, yet not a single mention of one on the PC's -- perhaps further indication that the PC is used primarily for its enterprise and office applications. It's also interesting to see the iPhone Simulator make an appearance on the top 10 newcomers list for the Mac, yet no mention on Windows. Evidently, Mac users are the iPhone's primary source of developers.

Web

The top ten most-used web-based applications are no surprise. Facebook ranks highest, beating heavyweights Gmail, Google Search, Wikipedia, and YouTube. Gmail is the only web-based email client to make the top ten list, highlighting its popularity over other web-based email services, particularly among early adopters and tech-minded individuals. The most significant appearance on the web's most-used list is FriendFeed, ranking higher than both MySpace and Flickr; clearly 2008 has been a great year for FriendFeed.

Summary

The biggest cross-platform winners come from the online gaming sector, with Spore and World of Warcraft both showing incredible growth and sustainability. While clearly it's no surprise that Mozilla's Firefox leads the desktop applications on both platforms, rival browser Chrome is likely to show strong growth, especially once Linux and OS X versions of the browser are released.

Online, Facebook usage reigns supreme. The social network's user engagement levels are astonishing. With 2.6 billion minutes spent on Facebook each day, over 50% of users logging in daily, and 140 million active users, it's easy to see why Facebook is Wakoopa's most-used web application. However, despite Facebook's ranking at number 1, it is Google that should be crowned overall online leader, with four of the top five most-used applications on the web.