Saturday, June 18, 2011

(empo-tuulwey) The ramifications of shiny old toys

I haven't been employed by Motorola in over two years, so I guess I can publicly disclose this now. At the time that I left Motorola's employ in April 2009, our standard employee computing platform included both Windows XP and Internet Explorer 6. If you are wondering about some of the things that I wrote at the time regarding the "Internet Explorer 6 users are bozos" crowd, now you know why I wrote them (although we had fun with the debate at times).

Now I'm not going to disclose the standard employee computing platform of my current employer, but it's fair to say that Robert Scoble or Steven Hodson wouldn't exactly drool over all of the features of said platform.

Let's face it, corporate America is not as enamored with shiny new toys as individual tech pundits are. It takes time to install the latest shiny new toy over thousands of computers, and it takes much more time to make sure that the shiny new toy actually works in the corporate environment.

So when you read discussion of brand new gizmo X or solution Y in the tech press or the tech blogosphere, bear in mind that the discussion doesn't even apply to a subset of corporate America.

Perhaps I shouldn't say "subset." Art Wittman has shared the results of a recent study of corporate users, prefacing the results with the following statement:

[T]he most surprising thing we found was that when it comes to laptops and desktops, you'd think our survey data was from at least a year ago.

Wittman continues:

July will mark the two-year anniversary of Windows 7's release to manufacturing. So what's the market penetration in corporate America now? According to our survey, the median percentage of desktops and laptops running Win 7 is a lowly 15%. Even if you work from the retail launch of Win7, which was in October 2009, you'd still guess that about half of desktops and laptops would have turned over already given the typical three-year replacement cycle.

Now since the vast majority of corporate America is still using some form of Windows, this isn't necessarily evidence of ANDROID APPLE R00LZ D00D.

Wittman notes that the recession may be a cause of Windows 7's slow adoption, but he also notes something else - Windows XP may be good enough for what a lot of people do.

XP is well understood, and when it's run on a dual-core system with a few gigabytes of memory (we used to call those supercomputers and squirrel them away at Los Alamos and the NSA), most users' needs are more than adequately met.

Now this will probably change over time - within two years it may become a necessity for EVERY employee to be able to stream HD video from a laptop connected to a mass transit wi-fi.

Or perhaps not - perhaps there will still be a substantial group of employees who can get by with Microsoft Works and a simple Web browser.

How does this affect YOUR business?
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