A few weeks ago I wrote the following:
I want to write newsletter articles that are relevant to you. I am also curious.
I am guessing that the number of people still using Windows 98 is dwindling rapidly, as is Macintosh OS 9. If I am correct, I will spend less time writing articles about software that runs on those systems. However, if my premise is wrong, I certainly want to know about it!
You can help me satisfy my own curiosity as well as help me write articles of interest to the majority of newsletter readers. You can do that by filling out a very short (optional) online survey.
2,017 genealogists responded to the survey and the results are now tallied. I received a few surprises.
I have posted graphs of the survey results at http://eogn.com/surveyresults.
1,760 respondents, or 87.3%, reported they are using Windows while 219 respondents, or 10.9%, reported they use a Macintosh as their primary computer. Less than one percent reported that they use Linux as their primary system.
The 10.9% using Macintosh is higher than national averages of Macintosh users. Apparently, genealogists are more attracted to the user-friendly Macintosh systems than are non-genealogists. (Genealogy software producers, are you reading these words?) Conversely, the number of genealogists who use Linux is lower than the general computer-using population.
Of all those who use Windows as their primary system, 88.8% are using Windows XP. This surprised me a bit, as XP has not been around too many years. It shows that genealogists frequently upgrade their systems to the latest available hardware and operating system software.
The survey did prove one of my original theories to be correct: the number of people still using Windows 98 is dwindling rapidly. Only 6.3% of the Windows users are still using Windows 98 or something older while 93.7% are using something newer than Windows 98.
In fact, of those who use two or more computers, 62% report that they also use Windows XP on their second system. Slightly less than 2% of the Windows users have a Macintosh for a second computer.
Amongst Windows users, 1,096 (almost exactly 50%) report that they purchased new genealogy software within the past year. This does not include free software, which was covered in a separate question. The new commercial programs purchased included almost every program described in this newsletter within the past twelve months: The Master Genealogist, Legacy, RootsMagic, Family Tree Maker, DeedMapper, AniMap, GenSmarts, World Place Advisor, GenViewer, Clooz, and others. Quite a few respondents said they simply purchased upgrades to the latest versions of programs they already used.
Another question asked about free genealogy software obtained within the past year. The answers were rather confused. Many people reported commercial products purchased or non-genealogy applications, such as automatic backup software. If I run this survey again next year, I'll need to ask that question differently.
42.9% of the Windows users report they expect to spend $26 to $100 on genealogy software within the next year.
8.4% of the Windows users report that they also have a handheld computer of some sort.
The Macintosh respondents produced fewer surprises. First, of the 204 genealogists who report using a Macintosh as their primary computer, 90% (184 respondents) are using OS X, but only 9% are using OS 9.
Of the Mac users who have a second computer available, more than half use a Macintosh on the second system. However, more than 30% of the Macintosh owners use some sort of Windows computer as a second system.
5.8% also have a Palm handheld but only one Mac owner reports also using a PocketPC handheld computer. That's no surprise, since the PocketPC handhelds don't work too well with Macintosh systems.
Nearly half the Macintosh owners report purchasing new genealogy software within the past year. Most purchased (or upgraded) Reunion, which is the most popular Macintosh genealogy program. There were scattered reports of purchases of Heredis, My Roots, and several Windows genealogy programs to be used with a Windows emulator for the Macintosh.
When asked about free genealogy software obtained within the past year, almost all the Macintosh-using respondents listed Windows programs. Apparently, the Macintosh-using genealogists use Windows emulators a lot! Of course, there is very little free genealogy software written for the Macintosh.
Like their Windows-using cousins, Macintosh owners expect to spend $26 to $100 on new or upgraded genealogy software in the next year.
The number of respondents who report using Linux as their primary operating system was so low (1.2%) that analyzing those numbers is meaningless.
Two respondents reported they use OS/2 as their primary operating system and one person reported, "Windows but I am switching to Linux." One respondent apparently is on the "bleeding edge" of technology, reporting that he or she is using Windows Vista beta. Vista is the next operating system from Microsoft that will be released someday. Don't look for it in the stores anytime soon.
I had a big surprise when I read the statistics about handheld computers. I know that the Palm operating system has been around much longer than the handhelds that run PocketPC operating system. Palm and Palm-compatible hardware manufacturers have sold millions of the handhelds. Most other surveys report that the Palm operating systems are more popular than PocketPC. However, amongst genealogists, the opposite is true: PocketPC users outnumbered Palm users by a nearly two-to-one ratio amongst genealogists.
When it comes to obtaining new software, the genealogists who responded to this survey certainly are oriented to online downloads and/or ordering. 58.7% of the respondents report that they purchase and/or download commercial genealogy software online. For obtaining free genealogy software, the numbers are even more dramatic: 91.6% of the respondents report they obtain free genealogy software online.
I thought the readers of this newsletter were a high-tech group, but I was still surprised by some of these numbers:
- Newsletter readers tend to use the latest Windows and Macintosh operating systems. Very few newsletter readers use Windows 98 or Macintosh OS 9.
- We have more Macintosh users than I expected.
- I was surprised at how few newsletter readers are using Linux.
- Newsletters readers with PocketPC handheld computers outnumber the Palm users by a two-to-one ratio. That was a major surprise for me.
If you would like to see some graphs of the survey results, take a look at http://eogn.com/surveyresults. I'll leave that page available for a few weeks.
I hope the genealogy software vendors are reading this article. Maybe some of them need to re-think their product plans.