Fun with numbers..

A recent report has come up with an interesting fact. Eighty four percent of IT Pro’s will not be upgrading to Windows 7 this year. This should not be a surprise, bearing in mind that Windows 7 has not even reached the RTM stage yet. I have no doubt that one or two of those questioned are still wrestling with the decision to upgrade from Windows 2000 to XP.

One has to look at reports like this in context. If your company is running processes today on reliable equipment, there are no plans to change or add to the load of the processes, and there are skilled people employed who able to keep the incumbent hardware/software running smoothly, the need to upgrade hardware and software simply does not exist. It stands to sense that no company is going to deliberately prejudice what is perfectly ok and incur major expense doing it.

The average home user faces a similar dilemma to the corporate IT Pro. I know of one lady who still runs Windows 98 because she has a chess game that she likes to play. It doesn’t matter to her that the chess game can’t play like Bobby Fischer, or that by staying with this one game that she will never become a chess master. The main consideration is that she can play her game, and send/receive e-mails from her family. I doubt that the lady in question will ever upgrade, unless one of her family give her an XP machine and a simple chess game to replace what she has now. The computer she has now was a donation through the same channel.

For the hobbyist, gamer, and advanced home user, the picture is very different. This group is always looking for ways to push boundaries. For the advanced gamer particularly, the quest to squeeze an extra fraction of a second in response time is all important. At this level, many computer users can put together their own computers or know somebody who can. In this way, OEM computer manufacturers lose out.

Something which can only be seen in retrospect is that the release of Windows XP in 2001 marked two highpoints.

  1. It was the first all purpose, reliable, stable operating system, almost a ‘one size fits all’.
  2. It enabled (along with better hardware) on-screen business and gaming graphics on the PC, beating the concept of virtual reality devices hands down.

Since that time, games have been made a little more realistic, but they are still not beyond the capability of XP to deliver. I use games as a marker because they are a good indication of  a computers ability to perform. Vista needed more of everything than XP ever did, but there were problems. Vista was not well supported outside of Microsoft in the beginning, and no killer application or game was forthcoming which could only run on a Vista platform. There was stuff which only runs in Vista, but none of it was in the category of ‘must have’. Windows 7 will face the same problems despite the inclusion of ‘touch screen’ technology.

So what happens next?

We wait for somebody to come up with lifelike affordable 3D, still frame and animated, which uses today’s hardware and present OS range. I am not talking about silly effects like Dreamscene or CompizFusion. As good as graphics are today, there is still a sense that if you move to fast, you will leave a hole in the stage backdrop. Virtual tours are either still frames fed in a timed stream or walk-abouts through Lego style building block scenarios. Just like the gas/petrol/diesel fed internal combustion engine, we have more or less reached stagnation point, and it is going to take something really spectacular to get anything like the response to the launch of Windows 95 way back when to get the industry back on its feet. 

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