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PCs and Macs?

Joe Felsenstein joe at evolution.genetics.washington.edu
Mon Dec 22 19:33:51 EST 1997

In article <67cocs$im4$1 at dismay.ucs.indiana.edu>,
gilbertd at chipmunk.bio.indiana.edu (Don Gilbert) wrote:
>Biology software and data:  20836  61% of total
>   MS Windows browser: 10302  -- 49% of biology 
>   Macintosh browser :  5095  -- 25% of biology 
>   XWindow browser   :  1679  --  8% of biology 
>   remainder         :  3760  -- 18% 
>This is a quick and dirty look at platform usage. 

I thought I would check this with a survey of the users of my own PHYLIP
package.  I took a group of 1000 registrations (basically from late 1996
to a couple of months ago) and counted how many fetched the Mac or PowerMac
executables of my package, how many fetched the Windows or DOS executables,
and how many fetched source code without executables (these people are
usually on workstations and will produce their own executables).  When
someone fetched both Mac and PC executables I counted them twice.  The
result is (excluding some that were unknown):

    Workstations:    78 --  7.9 % of total
    Macs/PowerMacs  298 -- 30.2 % of total
    Windows/DOS     612 -- 61.9 % of total

On the whole this is quite consistent with Don Gilbert's result but with
fewer "unknowns" (I exclude about 1.5 % unknown).  Note that Linux systems
probably come under Workstations here as they will fetch C sources.

Of course there are a million reasons why this might be completely independent
of what systems are actually being used out there (maybe everybody really
uses Vaxes).  But my first guess is that it is a reasonable reflection of
the systems used by my user base.  There is probably, however, an
underrepresentation of Unix systems, as each Unix workstation probably
serves more users than each PowerMac or Windows system.

I also note that this implies that the useage of Macs/PowerMacs is much higher
in biology than in commerce, where Macs are said to have a much lower
percentage penetration.  I might add that in my own department we started
out as mostly PC's, this changed about 1990 to mostly Macs (one by one, by
individual labs deciding to change), and now they are wavering as the
future of Apple seems in doubt, and putting in a few Windows machines.

DISCLAIMER. I do *not* think that this has anything to do with which system
is "best", or which people posting in this newsgroup should feel puffed up
about their superior choice of system, or their farsighted view of the
future of humanity. Nor will I discuss these.

It just is a datum about which systems are getting used in biology right now.

Joe Felsenstein         joe at genetics.washington.edu
 Dept. of Genetics, Univ. of Washington, Box 357360, Seattle, WA 98195-7360 USA

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