Take Microsoft With A Grain of Salt

Dennis Faas's picture

Over the past year, we have been hearing a lot about Vista from Microsoft.

So what is the real truth?

I cannot answer that question and I'm not going to try. I will, however, give you some figures that might blow some of Microsoft's 'fog' away.

The World Wide Web Consortium (also known as W3C) is an organization that tries to establish and control the Web by setting standards for such things as the HTML language (used to create the web pages). They are, perhaps, the only source of information available that is based on gathered data about the usage of the web. Sometimes the numbers point out some rather amazing things that software marketing firms might not want you to know.

The web site W3C Counter recently published a report using data collected from around the world. The information in that report had some very interesting things to show.

The top operating system (OS) being used around the world as of the end of May was XP, with 84.47% of all Web users. Windows 2000 is substantially lower at 4.28% but that is still better than Vista which has a paltry 1.94%. Windows 98, which is no longer supported by Microsoft, is fading quickly from the world but it still has 1.55% Linux has a tiny 1.21% but is on the rise.

If Bill Gates is to be believed, Microsoft has sold 40 million copies of Vista. I'm wondering where those copies are. They certainly aren't being used; at least not for web browsing. No, most of them are sitting on a shelf somewhere gathering dust.  It seems the OS of choice is actually XP with Linux being right there in the mix..

As for the browsers, Internet Explorer is doing quite well. Version 6 has a very respectable 49.54% while version 7 is at 16.82% which is strange since Microsoft has been distributing it since January as a Critical Update. Firefox 2.0 is running right behind IE 7 at 14.47% which makes sense because not everyone has heard about it. Opera 9 is rolling along at 0.77% and version 9.1 is at 0.55% but that is hardly surprising since hardly anyone knows about Opera. In fact, you might consider it to be a 'Best Kept Secret'.

So what does all this mean?

Vista isn't as popular as Microsoft is saying it is. In fact, Microsoft is actually competing against itself since XP shows no sign of going away. Since Internet Explorer is bundled with Windows it is no surprise that it has high numbers. What is surprising is how competitive Firefox is becoming.

One last thing: the country with the highest percentage of users is the US, with 32.80% and the rest of the world way below 4 or 5%. Thus, the US has more PCs in use. But that isn't worth boasting about when you consider where software for the PC is actually developed. Some really wonderful software is coming out of Europe, Russia, and China. Things that we all use and enjoy, from games to some really top drawer utilities and tools.

Don't believe everything you hear. Use a bit of common sense. After all, the PC is great for keeping in touch with family and friends, for entertainment, and for learning about our world. As an old friend of mine once said, "Don't go jumping on a band wagon because band wagons won't take you where you want to go!"

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