Mac users may not be entirely ready to join Apple CEO Steve Jobs in pronouncing the classic Mac OS
dead and buried. But a growing number are using and adapting to Mac OS X–at least among the
subscribers we surveyed about Apple’s next-generation operating system debuted.
To find out how Mac users are adjusting to OS X a year after Apple released the new OS,
and market-research firm Karlin Associates polled 401 subscribers between April 23 and April 29, 2002. We asked survey respondents if they had ever installed OS X, when they installed it, and whether the OS is still installed on their Macs. OS X users were asked how frequently they run the new OS; non-users were asked about their future intentions toward OS X. And we asked all 401 respondents for their points of view on the perceived benefits of OS X and who’s responsible for the future success of the operating system.
The poll was one in a series of periodic surveys conducted by
and Karlin Associates to track attitudes on everything from magazine content to the latest issues facing the Mac platform (For information on participating in future surveys, click
Question 1: Regardless of whether it’s installed now, was OS X ever installed on a Mac you personally use?
Question 2: When was OS X first installed on a Mac you personally use?
The majority of our survey panelists have installed OS X–at least, at some point since its beta release. The new OS became increasingly common on desktops as it progressed from the beta version released in September 2000 to the OS X 10.1 update of last year.
Question 3: Is OS X currently installed on a Mac you personally use?
Question 4: How often does OS X run on your Mac?
More than half of the panelists have OS X currently installed on their computers (Seven percent no longer have it installed.). Among these 211 survey participants with OS X currently installed, 82 percent are using it at least a small amount of the time, with the largest percentage — 46 percent — using it all of the time.
Question 5: Which of the following is the default operating system on your Mac?
When all panelists are taken into account, OS X is the default operating system on just under a third of their computers. But among panelists with OS X installed, 58 percent are running it as their default operating system.
“OS X is getting better and better,” one respondent wrote. “I used to switch back and forth but no longer do, because I have so many apps that run under X.”
Another respondent described himself as “hesitant” when OS X first came out… Now I wouldn’t go back, and use OS 9.2.2. only to scan with my SCSI scanner.”
But another panelist disagreed: “I’m not ready to let OS X be my default. It runs too slow compared to OS 9.2.2. I spend a lot of time on the Net, and my DSL connection runs considerably slower on X than 9.”
Question 6: Of all the different applications you use daily, how many of them are OS X-native?
Whether OS X is the default operating system has a lot to with how many OS X-native applications our panelists think are available. When most or more of the applications used on a daily basis run natively in OS X, the OS’s prevalence as the default operating system soars to nearly three out of four Macs. More than one in four of the survey participants–27 percent–still turn to OS X as their default OS even if relatively few of their critical applications run natively.
Question 7: Which of the following best describes your future intentions regarding OS X?
A lack of native applications is the single most popular reason panelists give for not using OS X. Plans to buy a new Mac (17 percent), missing drivers (9 percent), and overall stability (6 percent) rounded out the reasons for delaying the move to OS X.
“I intend on recommending our office upgrade to OS X when two things happen: the OS X performance hit disappears, and we can perform a head-to-head evaluation of a Carbonized QuarkXPress versus InDesign,” one panelist wrote.
“I would like to make the transition to OS X,” another respondent offered, “but most of my experience/software/peripherals are in OS 9. I suppose that I will make a gradual transition as I purchase more and more of the software needed for day-to-day operations.”
“OS looks good, but it still does not have all the drivers for my current equipment,” a respondent added. “It also falls short of all the great features of OS 9. I think all of this will be sorted out in the near future.”
Question 8: Indicate your agreement with each of the following statements about OS X, checking don’t know/no opinion if a particular statement doesn’t apply to you.
panelists are well versed in OS X, with 85 percent either strongly agreeing or somewhat agreeing that they “understand the benefits” of the new OS. Eighty percent “regularly follow news about it.” They are most ardent in their belief that OS X is the operating system of the future: 78 percent agreed with this statement, with more than half–55 percent–strongly agreeing.
About half–47 percent–believe the applications they use are available in OS X-native versions, but a significant group (23 percent) is in the dark about the availability of OS X-compatible drivers.
The large majority feel that, compared to previous Mac operating systems, OS X is more stable (65 percent) and find the Aqua interface attractive (63 percent). They are less inclined to agree that OS X’s overall system performance is faster (41 percent).
Question 9: How successful has Apple been at convincing you of the benefits of OS X?
Question 10: At this state in OS X’s development, who do you think is most responsible for the long-term success of OS X?
Overall, most survey participants feel Apple has been successful at convincing them of the benefits of OS X. Looking forward, the largest percentage of respondents–46 percent–felt that the responsibility for OS X’s long-term success was equally shared among Apple, developers, and Mac users rather than either Apple (23 percent) or developers (21 percent) alone.
“Apple did its job to bring the operating system to the public,” one participant said. “Software vendors slowed the process.”
“Apple hasn’t been anywhere nearly as good at helping developers create OS X applications as is popularly believed,” another contended. “They really need to get with the program and start supporting developers far more if a wide range of applications is going to be available.”
“The next major phase of OS X development needs to focus on usability issues, particularly speed increases,” one respondent concluded. “But all in all, I’m very impressed, and I believe this will be the system to watch.”