One evening in 1972 I was hanging out in the computer science department at UC Berkeley with a couple of equally socially backward friends waiting for our batch programs to run, and to kill some time we dropped in on a nearby physics lab that was analyzing photographs of particle tracks from one of the various accelerators that littered the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory. Analyzing these tracks was real scut work – the overworked grad student had to measure angles between tracks, length of tracks, and apply a number of calculations to them to determine if they were of interest. To our surprise, this lab had something we had never seen before – a computer-assisted screening device that scanned the photos and in a matter of seconds determined it had any formations that were of interest. It had a big light table, a fancy scanner, whirring arms and levers and gears, and off in the corner, the computer, “a PDP from Digital Equipment.” It was a 19” rack mount box with an impressive array of lights and switches on the front. As a programmer of the immense 1 MFLOP CDC 6400 in the Rad Lab computer center, I was properly dismissive…
This was a snapshot of the dawn of the personal computer era, almost a decade before IBM Introduced the PC and blew it wide open. The PDP (Programmable Data Processor) systems from MIT Professor Ken Olsen were the beginning of the fundamental change in the relationship between man and computer, putting a person in the computing loop instead of keeping them standing outside the temple.
The reports show that Windows 7 penetrated the consciousness of the market by the end of 2009, with a strong majority of US consumers aware of the product. We also found that consumers who adopted Windows 7 in Q4 were generally very satisfied with their Windows 7 PCs.
Perhaps the most interesting finding of the reports involves upgrade behaviors. Historically, most consumers have not upgraded their PCs with new OSes -- though Mac users and some technophile consumers have been an exception on this count. Instead, the majority of consumers have acquired new OSes when they purchase their new PC. These are known as "replacement cycle upgrades."
With Windows 7, however, upgrade behavior was much stronger. Why? In short, Windows 7 is a thinner client program than was Windows Vista, meaning that it works well on older hardware configurations. In the past, OSes were designed with Moore's Law as an underlying assumption -- that is, that newer PC hardware would be significantly faster and more powerful than the previous generation's hardware. Windows 7, however, is a less burdensome OS than Windows Vista. The rise of Netbooks, the physical assets of multi-PC households, and an attachment by many consumers to their Windows XP machines all contributed to the need for a sleeker, thinner Windows OS, which Windows 7 delivered.
Among early adopters of Windows 7, in Q4, for the first time upgrading behavior matched replacement cycle purchasing, as this Figure shows: