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The Byte poll.

THE BYTE POLL One of our favorite straw polls, Byte Magazine's twice-yearly Comdex survey of operating system preferences, rarely gets the publicity it deserves--probably because most of the trade press has an unwritten rule against quoting research published by a competitor. But the Byte poll is especially interesting because it provides a trend line: Byte has been asking about operating systems since Spring Comdex of 1988, so there's a certain amount of context for looking at the results.

To be sure, statisticians may quibble with Byte's sampling techniques (anybody who shows up at Comdex gets to vote). But so far the survey results always feel right--our First Rule of Research Validity.

In Las Vegas, Byte posed a simple question: "Which operating system/user interface will become the dominant force in the personal computer industry by the end of 1992?" Although OS/2 banners and plastic bags were in sight almost everywhere, the winner once again was something of a dark horse: Extended DOS, which garnered 31% of almost 9,000 votes. Traditional DOS (18%), Unix (18%), and OS/2 (16%) were virtually tied for second place, while "none will dominate" took 13% of votes and the Macintosh trailed with 3%.

That outcome is remarkably consistent with previous Byte polls, which have also found ongoing support for DOS:

Even more striking is the erosion of OS/2, once widely regarded as a sure bet for the dominant next-generation computing platform. In less than two years, OS/2 has lost fully 50% of its support in the Byte poll. That's perhaps more a measure of industry sentiment than a reflection of true development trends, but the numbers nevertheless reinforce a growing belief that we're moving toward a genuinely mixed computing environment: "The era when a single operating system could dominate the market is gone," Byte editor Fred Langa says. "We're looking at a future where users will face more choices and more confusion than ever before."

Byte Magazine, One Phoenix Mill Lane, Peterborough, N.H. 03458; 608/924-9281.
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Copyright 1989, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:of operating system preferences
Date:Dec 26, 1989
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