Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Update on Operating Systems: Who is on first?

Microsoft Windows has reigned supreme as the most popular operating system for many years. For a long time, there was hardly even a 2nd place. The installed base of Windows computers are not going to disappear for a long time (in the computer world, a long time is defined as a year or two) but the makeup of the world's operating systems is changing due to the decided shift to mobile devices.

If you look at the overall numbers of devices and their operating systems, it is reported that Google's Android operating system may just have passed Windows in raw numbers of users.
If you are using a smartphone, you are probably not even aware that it has an "operating system." But everything you do, from pushing buttons to switching screens is part of the device's operating system. Of course, the main division in mobile operating systems is between Google's Android and Apple's iOS. Despite the fact that Apple makes all the money from smartphones, there are more Android smartphone sold than Apple ones.

Analytics.usa,gov measures the operating systems used to access U.S. Government websites. It was widely noted in the news that access by Windows dropped below 50% for the first time ever.

Since most of the government offices still use desktop computers, I am guessing that these figures are pretty much skewed to desktop operating systems. Mobile device use passed desktop use back in about 2013-2014.
Hmm. What in the world does this have to do with genealogy? Well, if the major genealogy companies are serious about expanding into new, younger markets, they need to move more decisively into mobile uses and applications. Most of the development of mobile applications for genealogy are being developed by small, startup businesses and quite frankly if the genealogy world depended on mobile devices, it would look a lot different than it does today.

In addition, those companies that have mobile devices are not promoting them vigorously. The reality is that genealogy is years behind the curve in technology. In my opinion, this is due in large part to the demographics. But even if future growth is assured by the growth of the older population of the world, that growth is not making inroads into the younger markets who are married to their smartphones.


  1. Re "raw number of users"

    This is an entirely misleading notion, James. Microsoft have conned the public into believing (a) that you are buying their operating system (O/S), and its "features", rather than the ability to run applications under an O/S, and (b) that O/S functionality somehow expires and you have to junk it and buy an entirely new one, with a new licence. Hence, equating sales with "raw numbers of users" doesn't work.

    There is no reason why O/S changes could not be done in an evolutionary manner -- just as most O/S vendors do -- but Microsoft's junk-it-and-buy-a-new-one policy has secured them plenty of money to fund their marketing.

    And No, the swapping of old cars for new ones is not an appropriate analogy.

    ---- a one-time developer of O/S components

    1. Why do you think I use Apple Computers? :-)