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Friday, February 22, 2013

How to determine the Operating System support for your product - Part 3

In the past post in this series related to how to determine the Operating Systems support for your application (Operating System Support - Part 2), I talked about trying to determine what your current users support. If your current users are using an Operating System in fairly significant numbers, then it would be hard for you to drop support for such an Operating System; you would risk turning off these users, preventing them from buying the newer version of your software, and drop a significant potential customer base. But, this decision remains a complicated one.
In the previous post, I talked about getting this data from current users. But it is not only current users from whom data needs to be taken. To ensure that you are not dropping potential users from your customer base, you need to do surveys to determine whether your potential users are having an Operating System that you are planning to drop. Consider the case of Windows XP at this point of time. It is an old Operating System and you would might think that most users have moved on from Windows XP. But suppose you decided to drop support of this Operating System from your newer version and then suddenly see a drop in sales, it would seem obvious that you did not do the required survey of your potential users before making such a significant decision.
So what needs to be done ? Well, this is a survey of your potential customers, and is not as easy as just getting data from existing users. However, at the same time, there are many ways to get data related to Operating System usage. At any time, if you just do a search for Operating System usage, you will find that there are a number of articles where surveys have been done to determine the prevalence of Operating Systems among people worldwide, in specific age groups, across geographies and so on. So, if you have a product whose potential customer base is primarily among people above the age of 40 in the United States, there will be some industry data related to such a customer base. Of course, the data will not be exactly in the way that you need, so you need to account for the assumptions, look at the variables and then do an analysis to determine the data appropriate for you and use that as an input for your decision making.
However, it is not just looking at industry data. Another input for decision making is to call for a survey that looks at a sample of your user base and then provides that data to you along with a factor that determines the error assumptions in the survey. The advantage of this method is that you can determine the exact assumptions to be made in the survey, the queries to ask, and then get the results. However, to get accurate results and to ensure that you are not making inaccuracies, the survey needs to be thought through properly, and this can be expensive. But the science of surveys is pretty much standard, and you can be fairly confident about the results.
Now you have got the data required for your decision making, and you need to add variables regarding whether people who have older operating systems will actually buy your software, since people who are comfortable with their current software and operating systems are likely to have a lower percentage chance of buying newer software, even if it is very useful.

More information in the next post in this series (Deciding Operating System Support for your software - Part 4)

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