PC view. (results of reader survey)
by Clifton Karnes
Many thanks to those of you who mailed in the readership surveys from the November 1990 issue. Although a few surveys are trickling in, we have the lion's share, and the results are surprising.
The first thing we look at on each survey is the kind of equipment you're using. This year, there's a notable trend toward higher-end hardware. The surveys show a marked increase in both 286 and 386 machines, and the number of you using laptops has almost doubled, from 6 percent in 1989 to 10 percent in 1990. Because almost half of you have 286 or faster systems, we're looking for more programs that can take advantage of your PC's speed. And because of the rise in laptop use, we're going to test all the programs on each disk to make sure they give good results on laptop systems.
The most dramatic hardware change, however, is in video displays. Last year, CGA was the leading graphics adapter with 46 percent, but this year it's a distant second to VGA, which clocks in at a strong 41 percent (CGA garnered a 27-percent share). Monochrome and Hercules displays are both down two points from last year with 18 and 5 percent respectively, and EGA use has fallen from 25 percent in 1989 to 14 percent in 1990. We'll continue with our strong support for CGA, EGA, monochrome, and Hercules, but be sure to look for more VGA goodies on upcoming disks and more VGA-related features in the magazine.
When it comes to peripherals, we found just what we expected after seeing the high-end CPUs and displays. For example, hard disks, which just a year or two ago were luxuries, have moved from a 70-percent share last year to 79 percent. Mice are fast becoming the most-used accessory, with a leap from 52 to 58 percent. And 3 1/2-inch drives, which have always lagged far behind 5 1/4-inch ones, spun their way to a whopping 57 percent, which means that well over half of you have these smaller, higher-capacity drives.
Modern users, always a large group, have climbed from 48 to 52 percent. And laser printers have inched up in popularity from 8 to 11 percent. With recent reductions in laser printer prices, we expect to see a dramatic rise in laser printer use in 1991.
Memory, which used to cost a small fortune, has really come down in price lately, and that fact is reflected in the survey's results. Just over 72 percent of you have 640K or more, and 40 percent indicated that they have expanded or extended memory. Look for programs and features on memory management in the coming months to help you take advantage of all that RAM.
Programmers cast a strong vote for BASIC as their favorite language, the same winner as last year. And just under 15 percent of you stood up as Windows users. With Windows 3.0 looking like such a sure thing, we expect to see a dramatic rise in the number of readers running that operating environment in 1991.
When it came to the magazine's columns, you showed us a clear consensus: Technical tips and news are at the top of your list with "Hot Tips," "Feedback," and "News & Notes" as the top three picks. Close behind these three are "IntroDOS," "PC View," and "Power Up."
As for your favorite PC topics, the ranking is identical to last year. At the head of the list is disk management and MS-DOS with upgrading running a close second. Next come new technologies, word processing, and new hardware. Games, graphics, and programming are all tightly packed behind.
As you might guess, this information is more than just casually interesting to us. We use survey results like these almost every day when we choose the programs for a PC disk or when we select features or columns for the magazine. So when you see the next readership survey, fill it out and send it in. It's the best way of ensuring that the magazine and disk continue to have the kind of information and programs that you want most. Stand up and make your voice heard.