June 19, 2009, 7:02 PM — A friend forwarded me a report from the University of Virginia called the UVa First-Year Student Computer Inventory. The report included year to year comparisons gathered by checking how incoming freshmen were handling their computer chores. For instance, in 1997, about one of three incoming students didn't even have a computer.
By 2002 nearly everyone did, in 2005 the results of “do not own computers” was so tiny the bar could barely be seen above zero. By 2006, every student had a computer.
That doesn't surprise me, because colleges darn near force students to bring one, and some schools provide laptops for all incoming freshmen. The really interesting chart, at least following up my post “Will Linux and Mac Desktop Adoption Ever Reach the 20 of the 80/20 Rule?” is the one at the end, Operating Systems Comparison. It appears the Mac message resonates quite well with younger people, or at least those going to the University of Virginia.
In 2008, of 3070 total student computers in the freshman class, 1150 ran some version of the Mac OS and 1912 ran some versions of Windows. Over a third of incoming students prefer Mac. Only eight percent run “other” which I assume to be Linux of various flavors.
The numbers of Mac OS users has been climbing steadily. 2003 – 111, 2004 – 251, 2005 – 400, 2006 – 605, 2007 – 830 and then the 1150 for last year. This growing Mac fan base will be in the work force in 2013, so the fight for Microsoft to retain their dominance will be getting tougher the next few years.
My friend Travis who sent me this link is excited because he counts Mac OS as Unix, since the OS uses BSD Unix for much of the guts. Sorry, Travis, but I don't buy the Mac OS as a Unix or Linux win. Apple customized the heck out of BSD, the vast majority of Mac users never see BSD, so I think we call the Mac OS the Mac OS and not try to claim any extra leverage for Unix and Linux fans.
However, the “anybody but Microsoft” club members should be thrilled at the UVa details. Let me know if you have comparisons like this for any other colleges or universities.