Tech Nous: But Is It Progress?

I don’t know about you, but I was always under the illusion that new products, superseding old or existing products, provided the buyer with features or enhancements that made life infinitely easier and more bearable. While this is often the case, sadly it doesn’t always apply to new software releases. My word processor package, for example, purchased with my computer system just few months ago, has rather annoying habit of spewing out “Runtime Error” message whenever I go to close document. On one occasion I was partway through writing an article when the fault suddenly occurred, leaving the customary “Runtime Error” message on screen and forcing me to rack my brain to recreate those pearls of wisdom I had just lost. The problem may be very simple to fix, or very time consuming – meantime I constantly ‘save’ my material as I go, just to be safe.

Computer operating systems have come and gone over the years, and there have been times when frustrated PC owners have wished that the OS developers had simply not bothered to update perfectly good version. I’m not sure if Windows XP, which I’m running, is particularly good example of an operating system, but regardless of whether it is or not, there’s bound to be replacement version on the market very soon.

I was little surprised to learn recently that Windows 98 is still the most popular operating system around the world. According to interactive media and business intelligence specialist RedSheriff, around 35 percent of worldwide computer users rely on Windows 98 as their operating system. Australia and New Zealand’s combined figure was marginally higher at 37 percent.

The popularity of Windows 98 is explained by its pre-packaging with PCs, and the fact that it was the first OS from Microsoft that blurred the distinction between the OS and web browser. Also, says RedSheriff it “furthered Microsoft’s monopolistic goal of eliminating Netscape, which appears to be well succeeding”.

Windows 2000 – package that features additional security measures but tends to be used more in the workplace than for personal home use – gets 21 percent of the market.

Windows XP, combination of the Windows NT/2000 professional series and Windows 98/ME consumer series with greater emphasis on media tools, currently has around 16 percent of the market, with Windows ME trailing with just under 10 percent.

If you’re Mac owner, it probably won’t come as any surprise that Mac’s OS operating system has market infiltration of just 2.2 percent. It is most popular in the US, and also in Japan where just over five percent of computer owners have the Mac product running. The marketing people at Macintosh have managed to get their colourful products to star in number of popular television shows, but even the improved exposure and interest in the Mac in recent times has not been enough to keep up with the relentless advance of new Windows products.

If nothing else this breakdown serves as reminder that “the latest” doesn’t have to mean “the greatest”. While upgrading software usually comes as result of business needs (such as compatibility issues) or hardware upgrades, it may be advisable to run with the version of software you are most familiar with – provided it will do the job.

If you’re Windows 98 user you can also rest assured that you are with the majority of users in terms of worldwide operating system usage.
One can’t help but feel that if there had not been all the Millennium Bug “hoo-hah” , the percentage of PC users still running older versions of software would be much higher than it is today.

Glenn Baker is editor of M-tech.
Email: [email protected]

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