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InfoCorp: a new user profile?

In the past two years, Windows has clearly revolutionized the software marketplace. But developers are still wrestling with basic questions about the market's growth potential and the buying habits of typical Windows users. Recently, we found some interesting clues in InfoCorp's Microsystems User Trend Analysis Program (MUTAP), a massive survey of software and hardware usage patterns among business, home, and small office users. We asked InfoCorp senior analyst Chris Le Tocq to describe some of the high points of the MUTAP study:

When you look at the profile of a typical Windows user, what does the data suggest?

"The biggest surprise was that Windows users have so many applications on their PCs, even more than Macintosh users. The average Windows user works with 7.9 applications, compared to an average of 4.9 applications for DOS and 7.1 for the Macintosh. One reason for the high number is that many Windows users are still in transition from DOS and are temporarily using duplicate applications under DOS and Windows. As those DOS applications disappear, the number of applications on Windows machines will probably decline somewhat.

"When we look at specific applications, however, it's amazing how similar the usage patterns are for DOS and Windows. Word processing, spreadsheets, graphics, utilities, database, and communications are the top applications on both platforms, in exactly the same order. That's interesting, because usage patterns on the Macintosh are different. Graphics ranks as the first-place application, even ahead of word processing, and database applications are way down in tenth place."

So the Windows market actually seems fairly conservative in its usage patterns.

"Old habits die hard. People would rather not think about the conversion process unless they're forced to. That's been a source of strength in the Windows market for Lotus and WordPerfect. However, we've found that once people do decide to make a major switch, they evaluate almost everything in the category. Usage patterns may not change much, but brand preferences do."

What about the people who aren't using Windows?

"One of the interesting statistics we found is that there's a very high percentage--46% overall--of people who say they have absolutely no intention of moving to Windows. That percentage is smaller for people who own more powerful hardware--31% of 386 users and 22% of 486 users-- but there are still a significant number of users who have rejected Windows completely."

Any predictions about what's going to happen to the Windows market over the next few years?

"My feeling is that most of the people who are going to convert to Windows have already converted. Among 486 users, for example, 63% already use Windows some or all of the time, and only 12% expect to switch to Windows in the future. At the same time, DOS has gone downhill big time, and the upgrade market is beginning to show diminishing returns. Until we see major new applications, the growth rate for the whole software market probably will drop to the low teens, more closely matching the rate of new hardware sales."

Chris Le Tocq, senior research analyst, InfoCorp, 2880 Lakeside Dr., Santa Clara, Calif. 95054; 408/980-4300.
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Title Annotation:highlights of InfoCorp's Microsystems User Trend Analysis Program survey
Author:Le Tocq, Chris
Date:Mar 31, 1993
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