We recently ran a poll of our users to find out which version of Joomla their website uses. You can see the full results here: http://www.spiralscripts.co.uk/Poll-results/Which-version-of-Joomla-does-your-website-use.html.
One thing to note about these results is that they will be heavily biased towards the latest release of Joomla, 2.5. We are a site that sells Joomla extensions, the majority of our customers will be looking for extensions for a newly built site. For example, in our results there are no Joomla 1.0 sites (we don't sell 1.0 extensions), but there are Joomla 1.0 sites out there somewhere, probably in substantial numbers.
In spite of this the results show that there are still a substantial proportion of sites still using Joomla 1.5 (over 20% of our sample), and a surprising number (over 10% of our sample) still using Joomla 1.7. This is in spite of the fact that Joomla 1.7 is no longer officially supported, and support for Joomla 1.5 will end very soon.
The need for longer periods of support for old versions of Joomla has been a hot topic of conversation among developers recently, and it is something that we strongly agree with. We believe that security releases of old versions should be made available for a period of years, not months. Upgrading Joomla to a new incompatible version, such as the move from 1.5 to 2.5, can be difficult and costly for a small business. It is a move that many Joomla users would probably prefer not to make.
The next version of Joomla will be 3.0, due in about 18 months. The signs are that it is again going to be incompatible with earlier versions, requiring yet another costly upgrade for site owners that want to keep up. This rapid rate of change, without attention to backwards compatibility, is likely to produce a drift of users away from Joomla to rival content management systems such as Drupal and Wordpress.
Joomla is a great content management system, and we think generally the best choice for the typical small to medium sized business site. However the need for frequent upgrades may well be a deal-breaker for many businesses. As a guess, most businesses probably expect their websites to have a life of around 4 to 5 years before upgrading is required, and this seemslike a reasonable expectation. For Joomla to have a long term future we believe that much more attention must be paid to what users want.