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Windows Big Numbers

posted 12 Oct 2012, 02:52 by Alistair Hamilton   [ updated 21 Oct 2012, 06:25 ]
World clock
One of the reasons I'm not fond of Microsoft Windows is the amount of time it takes to install or update with a service pack.

Take Windows XP for example. To install from scratch, install all service packs, security updates and patches frequently takes 4-5 hours. Not to mention the time taken to search and find drivers for network cards, graphics cards and sound cards. Add on to that the time taken to install their Office suite and its updates along with anti-virus/anti-malware software and you can be looking at spending a fair chunk of your day.

I recently had the pleasure of installing Windows 7 Service Pack 1 on my daughter's laptop. The process took just over two and a half hours from initiating the download to it being fulling installed and configured. Granted, we don't have the fastest broadband in the world, but it was downloaded within 30 minutes. The rest of the process took 2 hours.

As I was twiddling my thumbs waiting for this to finish, I started wondering how long it would take a single person to go round all the Windows machines throughout the World and carry out the same process, one after the other.

So, just for a bit of fun...

I've found it difficult to pin down any sort of estimate of the number of Windows based machines currently in use throughout the World, so I'll have to make my own best guess.

There are an estimated 2.438 billion Internet users. Now, obviously not all of them are using Windows - at least some of us are using Linux.

However, according to Wikipedia, the market share of operating systems puts the use of Windows 7 machines at 40.32% at the time of writing. From that I can conclude that 0.9752 billion Windows 7 machines are out there.

975.2 MILLION!!!! That seems extraordinarily high to me but it illustrates the difficulty in pinpointing just how many Windows 7 users are out there.

So, instead of using those figures, and since this is just a bit of fun, I'm going to slash that figure down to a much more conservative 9 million.

9 million Windows 7 machines to be updated with service pack 1 taking 2 hours each means that our fictitious support employee will spend the following amount of time updating each machine in turn...

18,000,000 hours
=> 750,000 days
=> 2055 years

But that involves working 24 hours a day. Let's give him some time off to eat, sleep and see his family. So limiting him to an 8 hour daily shift, 7 days per week, it will take him...

6165 years

In the meantime, there will be loads of other systems coming on stream. Just look at how quickly the count is increasing for the estimated number of Internet users on WorldMeters. It's a good job there's a lot more IT support people out there, which leads me on to something else. Cost.

It can be argued that home users will not incur any financial cost but clearly, businesses will. To, very roughly, take this into account, let's assume an hourly cost of £10. Business costs will be higher than this, but I'm trying to take the home user effect into consideration by using this estimate.

Assuming the rather conservative figure of £10/hr is reasonable, the cost of upgrading all those machines to service pack 1 will be...

£180 Million

And if that doesn't frighten you as a business user, nothing will.

Anyway, just a bit of fun.