Types of computer users

OK, showing my bias here but also trying hard to understand people from the computers point of view. I am going to make a few (who knows how many) different views of computer users.

Lets start off with users by computer OS.

According to Wikipedia, because they were close to the top of the Google search:
Usage share of operating systems for December 2010.)
Windows XP (44.0%)
Windows 7 (24.23%)
Windows Vista (16.74%)
Mac OS X (6.82%)
iOS (iPhone) (1.94%)
Linux (1.53%)

OK what does this tell us. To me it says people buy the computers that the stores have out there. Most of them are Windows. And it seems that people are happy with the computers they bought when they bought them so Windows XP is up there because people don’t need to replace their computers yet. They don’t want to have to deal with changing the OS. This tells me that the overall majority of computer users want their computer to just work and since the computers seem to be doing just that they are sticking with what they have.  Question, how old is your computer?

Users by what they do with the computer

Now I’m going to speculate here and make up some numbers for sorting people by what they do with their computers. This is from personal experiance and is not considered scientific but in my opinion is 100% right on. If I didn’t think so I would say that anyway because I’m writing it. Most people who have a computer at home (the masses) use it for communication and social media/entertainment. Am I right or what. Yeah we all know you bought it to do your taxes 😉 but now you email, facebook and farmville your life away.They are not using their computers to make any type of product or money.

A smaller number of people, Information workers people who use the computer for their jobs do things like blogging, or office type work with something like Microsoft office, Outlook and think Microsoft Access is a database. They also do the masses type things but actually do work with the computer but that work is not highly computing intensive. They use computers to run a business or at least track it and to publish things, either internal to a company or to everyone, much like this blog. And by itself is not really making a product but it’s better than facebook.


Our next category are people who do business type computing, IT and finance users. They set up computers to do business applications. I lumped IT in here because they had to go somewhere. These are the major computer cycle users in many businesses. Banks and fortune 500 companies live and die by their IT and Finance computer usage. And while they are not directly making any money they make the flow of money easier and so better for the companies they work for.

Now we get to the big hitters of the computer world, the use of computers to do stuff. Automation and control and monitoring processes is the heart and soul of the current economy. Computers run the plants and machines that mine, grow, make and then move around the products and services we make, use and depend on every day. This includes medical computers for monitoring everything from heart beat to brainwaves, xray machines and MRI. The people who use their computers to make all this happen and happen efficiently and safely are the gods of the current industrial computing age. There are very few of these people but they are heavy hitters.

And that leaves us with pure-computing. The scientific and simulation computing that does everything from making weather forecasts and does in computer testing of nuclear weapons, computers that catch the data from large scale science experiments (like the LHC) or computers that run simulations of scientific phenomena that drive the new science that is making our lives easier and easier by the day. Again a small number of experts that the rest of us depend on for our future to unfold.

So did I leave anyone out? And where do I land in this spectrum?

Another way to divide up users is by how they see the computer in front of them.

Most people it is another box, like a TV or microwave or phone, maybe all three wrapped up in one, they just don’t know, it’s a box that shows their friends and email and Utube. It can even tell them when they spelt (we do not mark spelling here) something wrong, but they don’t know how it works, it just does. And that is all they really need to know, here it is, it works. How many times has someone told you that they are using google or the internet when they meant the browser? My wife uses firefox, even when it’s Chrome. She doesn’t need to know it’s Chrome or that the computer is running Linux. it just does what she wants. Although she is learning and taking courses so she won’t be in this group for much longer.

She will be moving to the ‘ownership’ group next. They know what the computer is, basic places to plug things in and what the difference is between Chrome and IE and that Linux doesn’t crash so often. This is usually when people start buying Macs. They start to realize that there is a world out there and some people in it are nasty and if you own a mac that doesn’t matter. OR you start to make sure your computer is patched every month and that the antivirus is a good thing.  They start to own the machine, decide that there are things about it that can be improved and either find or have someone to help them do it.

Then there are the gamers. Notice I am splitting gamers out from the rest, because they are unique. They know what games they want to play and so are making or getting a machine that will play that game. The research it and obsess it. They have to have the best and fastest for that game. It’s usually one game that drives the process and while there are other games, they have to work within the parameters of the one. Some of these guys are also hackers (hacker used here in the original sense not the media’s screwed up illegal sense) and can be good programmers but hey the game man the game.

OK Hackers, programmers and Steve, this is your group. (Hey Steve!) These are the guys/gals (Elizabeth) who know what the computer does, how it does it and how to make it do it better. The lucky ones get to do this for pay. Some  are obsessed while others can leave it when not at work. (Ed.) Some of these gusy are using Linux, some Mac, some Windows, it doesn’t matter, they all work with the computer, the OS is just a tool to get to it.

I and the people like me, but a really small part of the population, know not just how the computer works but enough about it to change it, make it do more, not just from a software point of view but hardware and also the things around. We network everything, plug ourselves in if we can and see where we, with our computers, can go. We never go anywhere without some type of connection to the net and so back to our computers at home. I am also integrating computing within myself, by medical devices and scanners. I am diabetic so blood testers, an integrated ecg in my watch, another watch with networking capability, my Pocket PC and tens machine, never leave home without them. I’m not borg yet, but I am working on it. Don’t just know the machine, be the machine.

So where do you sit? I guess you found me so you can’t be just watching your PC.

How else can we divide up computer users? Tell me what you think? What about people who don’t use computers at all or worse, do but don’t know it?

I guess this little post tells us some things about people who use computers. And I guess it also says a lot about the nut who wrote it. Hopefully you like it and come back for more.

Information workers people who use the computer for their jobs and mostly use something like Microsoft office, Outlook and think Microsoft Access is a databaseInformation workers people who use the computer for their jobs and mostly use something like Microsoft office, Outlook and think Microsoft Access is a database

About echlinm

Computer Programmer/Systems Analyst/Hacker S31
This entry was posted in Computers and Internet, Cyborgs and Robots and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Types of computer users

  1. Brett Legree says:

    You can combine these, too – for example, I have found that people who view a computer as a box, toaster or tool tend to run what came with the computer until they buy a new computer. They don’t even know they can change or upgrade the OS, sometimes because they don’t know what an OS actually is compared with a browser or an office suite.

    I know several people who think Windows XP and Microsoft Office are the same thing…

    Then, but not always, people who are from the hacker end of things often run Linux or BSD. I say not always, because there are some pretty hackerish people who run Windows and Mac (these folks often *also* run Linux, though).

    The people from the first combined group I mentioned above can be good candidates for Linux pre-installs since as long as the computer works, they are happy. And since most of them don’t or can’t install anything themselves in the first place, so long as they have access to competent technical help, Linux works for them.

  2. echlinm says:

    I keep watching the traffic this post has generated to my site. And I wonder, what are the people like who read it then don’t post a reply? Did I miss something, are they a whole new group of users I haven’t discovered before? I would love to know.

  3. Pingback: Blogging, I’m learning | Borg or No (S31)

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