Windows

Poll: Does not having Windows experience put you at a distinct disadvantage?

The TechRepublic Microsoft Windows Blog polls members on this question: Does not having Windows experience put you at a disadvantage?

Over the last month or so, readers of the TechRepublic Microsoft Windows Blog have been discussing the Windows operating system and software piracy. With its large market share, the Windows operating system is predictably one of the most pilfered pieces of software around. Whether the reasons for using an improperly licensed copy of Windows can ever be justified has been the main focus of the debate so far, but with this poll, I'd like to take on a different angle.

One of the recurring themes I have noticed in the discussions is the idea that the Windows operating system should be made available to more people who cannot afford to pay the asking price. The implication is that Windows skills are a necessary part of a person's life experience when seeking employment and that pricing the operating system out of a large part of the population's capability to obtain it puts them at a disadvantage in the marketplace.

Should we, as a society in the electronic technology age, consider access to the predominant operating system of the period a fundamental right? Does not having experience with the Windows operating system put one at a disadvantage when looking for gainful employment? Does the justification for using improperly icensed copies of Windows in the developing world hinge on the fact that an operating system equals opportunity?

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About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

42 comments
aussiejarrah
aussiejarrah

I teach older adults who want to re-enter the workforce basic computing skills. Many ppl will not hire if you don't already have windows skills. I recently got a student with a PhD who had done all her study on a Mac. But couldn't get a job because she had no windows experience. It was difficult for her as my classes are geared towards ppl with no experience.

DNSB
DNSB

We just hired a new IT staffer. Guy knows rather little about Windows or Macs but is fairly good at Linux coming from an Unix background. Oddly, he's been hired near the top end of the corporate payscale. Probably something to do with his CCNP and CCSP certifications and 6 years of industry experience. There are still lucrative opportunities for those who are not Windows centric. Often opportunities that allow you to pick and choose your employment.

paztame
paztame

Ladies & Gents, We should at this time, (2010) of computing development on this our beautiful planet think that M/S OS equals only MONEY and MONEY is the developer not M/S Therefore WE are in the WRONG track!! failing the young people by not allowing the truth about what a computer is it "is a tool NOT driven only by M/S OS" But by many others means and types of OSs- If we teach sex in schools nowadays why not tell the truth about OSs and the monopoly around it after all this truth will help them for the rest of their life, this is what schools are for, our obligation is to help the next generation

john3347
john3347

Lack of Windows abilities may not be a deal breaker when using Windows is not one of your job requirements, but I have seen Windows abilities become a deal closer (on jobs that did not require Windows use - didn't even require computer use other than to clock in and out and type description of repairs performed) in two of my job searches near the end of my job searching.

ccie5000
ccie5000

Microsoft Word and Excel are de facto (and unfortunately closed) standards. To a lessor extent, Microsoft Outlook is a near-de facto standard. Microsoft Windows is irrelevant, other than for those seeking Windows support IT jobs. However, "Windows" is often used as shorthand for Word/Excel (and less so for Outlook, PowerPoint and/or Visio). In the IT field, Windows experience can be detrimental if it brands you a "Windows guy". Almost everybody has Windows experience. Although that experience varies greatly in depth and quality, the perception is one of a glut of supply of "Windows guys", and thus a significantly lower equalibrium point on the supply/demand curve than for other IT specialties. So, if you want to be a Unix/Linux systems admin, a DBA, a network engineer, or a software engineer - and want to get paid like one - too much Windows experience can be detrimental to your personal bottom line.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

shows you can't get a job in IT without windows. Sheesh. What does windows experience mean. Move the clicky thing so the arrow thing goes over the blue e, and then click the clicky thing. So now I am experienced with widows and can get a job, hurrah !

TheProfessorDan
TheProfessorDan

I agree that the question as to whether or not having Windows Experience is a disadvantage in the work place but I really think that the arguement can be made that having experience with a specific technology isn't the real benefit. I think that experience makes you more able to handle future challenges. Look at professional athletes like Peyton Manning. Granted Manning has become more skilled at his profession but what he has really picked up over time is the mental ability to make good decisions that has made him so great (minus that one pass he threw in the Super Bowl versus the Saints).

DNSB
DNSB

"So now I am experienced with widows and can get a job, hurrah !" Not till you add some experience with orphans to go with your experience with widows. VBG

charleswdavis6670
charleswdavis6670

If I were looking to hire someone with Windows "Experience" I would expect the applicant to have an in depth knowledge of the operating system. One who could assist the personnel in the organization, when things "don't work." Of course, when one runs an ad in the help wanted column, one must define windows experience so that folks won't waste time for the applicant and the interviewer.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

the original poster. My definition would be someone who's been around long enough to appreciate their ignorance. Love it or hate it windows is huge, very few have in depth experience of that much of it. I'd be more impressed with someone who could F1 and google their way through an unfamiliar aspect, than parrot out one familiar bit.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

The question was asked in general and not applied in particular to tech jobs. I'd expect everybody applying for a tech job with customer contact to know enough about Windows to help a user with operations up through using archive software.

jsaubert
jsaubert

I'm going to be a bit of a realist here and say that you will be excluded nearly 100% of the time applying for a computer service related job with zero Windows experience. Even if you're applying at an all Mac and/or Linux shop they will expect you to at least be able to give instructions or troubleshoot for someone with a Windows machine. Invariably you would have to deal with some outside source and need to have some kind of idea what to do. Not to say that this is a special situation exclusive to the world of computers! I would never hire someone for a job in Japan that doesn't know or isn't willing to learn Japanese, even if it was an entirely English speaking office. Nor would I hire a car salesmen that cannot drive or won't learn. I'm not saying that those people aren't capable or not qualified for the positions but it there will come a time when that lack of ability is detrimental.

bckerr
bckerr

I have never, nor will I ever, hire someone for my company that does not have Windows experience. We are in the IT field, not the "train the new guy" field. Just my opinion and my hiring policy. You hire quality knowledge you get quality production.

Unix4me
Unix4me

It is possible to get some kinds of Windows experience without having to buy the OS - classes, used equipment, pre-release versions, volunteer work for a nonprofit - so no, I don't think that free copies are a fundamental right - there are legal ways to get legal access to software for learning without "breaking the bank". I've had to use creativity to get hardware and OS together to stay up to date (my employer doesn't run on the leading edge - to say the least - but as a network admin. I need to keep up with the rest of the world. It can be done; nobody ever promised it would be easy.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

What good is a 'fundamental right to Windows' if one cannot afford the hardware to run it on? If you can afford the hardware but not the OS, run Linux. You'll have a marketable skill set, and learn enough about a GUI to be able to function effectively when you eventually encounter Windows (or OS X).

Who Am I Really
Who Am I Really

That all depends on the job requirements ie. don't expect to get a modern administrative assistant job without some experience with things like outlook, etc. In taking my job which turned into a full blown business I was jumping from win3.10/DOS 6.20 experience straight into what was current at the time, win2k I never bothered with anything more than an 80486 @ home because I hate the upgrade treadmill and the cost of it and never needed the PC to do anything more than win3.1 would do anyway, and because I knew win3.1 inside and out I was given the job & now full time contract but if I didn't have that experience I may have still got the job but not to the extent which I have it now, as my prior experience has allowed me to configure and tweak the systems the way I want it to run though for the first few months I gave grief to the IT dept. until they finally gave up and gave me a local admin. account so I could configure the system to the way I want it to behave without having to ask IT for this that and the other thing changed every day. the only thing they reserve for themselves now is New Hardware installs, I can't just go and buy any internal hardware, I have to spec it out and submit it to IT. but when they come around with the "your system is now out of warranty, you need a new one what do you want" I can specify that info and I usually get it with only occasionally slight modification to the spec. so the answer is yes, if you haven't got any windows or equivalent experience to offer then you either don't get the job or you get it at a reduced wage for a period of time because of the training involved.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"...don't expect to get a modern administrative assistant job without some experience with things like outlook, etc." Ah, but we're not talking about a fundamental right to access MS Office, just to the Windows operating system.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Come to a full stop occasionally. I've lost my breath just reading it.

Who Am I Really
Who Am I Really

good grief man it wasn't a half hour long lecture. at least I'm not filling my posts with all the crap net shorthand which is harder to read than real shorthand.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

is so unimportant to you that you don't see the need to make it clear to others, I have nothing more to say.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

People think that if you haven't used Windows or MS Word you haven't used a computer. It's an ignorant attitude, but there it is.

Jeff7181
Jeff7181

Absolutely. Everybody in the working world should have a basic working knowledge of Windows. The ability to open files, create new files, save files in specific locations, find those files after saving them, cut, copy, paste, email, understand what a web browser is and what "the Internet" is. If you're in IT you need to have more than a basic knowledge.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

[i]Everybody in the working world should have a basic working knowledge of [b]computers[/b]. The ability to open files, create new files, save files in specific locations, find those files after saving them, cut, copy, paste, email, understand what a web browser is and what "the Internet" is. If you're in IT you need to have more than a basic knowledge.[/i] See how much more accurate it is with that one word changed?

Slayer_
Slayer_

Computers don't open files, Windows does. A "File" is just a collection of 1's and 0's laid out in an arbitrary pattern on a magnetic platter. Without an operating system, such as Windows, files as we know them, do not exist.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Particularly since they started using the i86 platform for their hardware.

Slayer_
Slayer_

So their marketing is like a deception compounded onto a lie.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

You and I both know home electronic equipment uses an internal processor to perform the intended function. But to the vast majority, a stereo is still a stereo, a TV is still a TV, a printer is still a printer, and a computer is a PC.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Unless your implying that your stereo system can open files, your printer can play music, and your TV... oh wait, TV's do web browse now.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Opening files, creating new files, saving files in specific locations, finding those files after saving them, cutting, copying, pasting, and emailing are basic tasks everybody should be able to perform on a computer, [u]no matter which operating system is running[/u]. You not only know Windows is not the only OS in which one can do this, you say so in your final sentence.

stereoplegic
stereoplegic

While not a fan of WinBLOWS, I will say that experience certainly helps. What disturbs me is the idea that MS should be FORCED to lower their prices based on someone's need, or that one's need justifies theft (another form of force). That's the argument that allows legislators to wipe their asses w/ the Constitution.

verd
verd

Your just another MS basher

wired7234
wired7234

I spend 90% of my time migrating users away from Windows, so knowing HOW to get 'clean' info away from that platform is just as important.

verd
verd

That is stupid

DNSB
DNSB

In the last year, I've moved around 25 senior citizens from Windows to Linux. For the most part, they've had no issues with skills transfer. The process of web browsing, reading/writing emails, typing short letters, etc. is not all that different -- takes a rather short time to learn which icon to double click. The major advantage, from my point of view, is that the calls about malware infections from that group have dropped to zero. I don't miss the panicked calls when an "antivirus security alert" pops up and proclaims that your computer is infected with hundreds of pieces of malware. I install antivirus software as part of the install routine -- only a damned fool would think that any operating system guarantees a malware free experience but Linux is not the preferred target for most malware authors so somewhat of safety through obscurity. The cost difference between Linux and Windows is another advantage for seniors who all too often have very limited budgets for luxuries such as computers.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

What do you think? I'll reiterate the questions: Should we consider access to the predominant operating system of the period a fundamental right? Does not having experience with the Windows operating system put one at a disadvantage when looking for gainful employment? Does the justification for using improperly-licensed copies of Windows in the developing world hinge on the fact that an operating system equals opportunity?

awgiedawgie
awgiedawgie

There was a time when the Honda Civic was the most stolen make of car. Should we consider access to driving a Honda Civic a fundamental right? An operating system is a vehicle that allows the user to move about within the system. The question is ridiculous. Of course not having experience with Windows puts one at a disadvantage, but only when they are looking for gainful employment that deals with Windows. And if one is looking for gainful employment, even dealing with computers in general, either they have already had some college education, or they are interested in on-the-job training, such as an internship, while they are in college. I don't know of any college whose computer training does not include Windows, as well as other operating systems. And there is an abundance of financial aid available for students who want to pursue a college career, but who cannot afford it on their own. In fact, there are many colleges that will provide students with a computer as a part of their computer studies. That makes the cost of acquiring Windows quite reasonable for anyone serious about a computer career. And the correct term is 'rationalization' not 'justification.' 'Justification' implies that the reasons for breaking the law make it acceptable, and thereby not illegal. 'Rationalization' is the providing of excuses to ease one's guilt from breaking the law, even though they know it's still illegal. Does knowing Windows equal opportunity? Only in the Windows field. Does knowing chemical engineering equal opportunity? Only in that field. Does knowing how to drive a truck equal opportunity? Only in that field. Education in one's chosen career field is absolutely indispensible if they are to get very far, but it does not justify breaking the law. I know nothing whatsoever about Linux, so I would not expect to get a job in that field, nor would I want one. If I wanted to get a job dealing with Linux, I would first want to learn about it. Would that justify me if I stole it? If someone steals a semi-truck, would they be let off the hook with the excuse that they want to get a job driving a truck? Does that give them the right to steal it? Would that justify forcing manufacturers to lower their prices on trucks? After all, semi-trucks are one of the most popular ways to access warehouses and transport cargo over long distances. Just like Windows is one of the most popular ways to access files and move data.

TheProfessorDan
TheProfessorDan

Of course you are going to be at a disadvantage with out at least some knowledge of Windows. Love them or hate them, they have a massive chunk of the market share in desktops and a pretty decent chunk in the area of servers. How many shops out there have NO MICROSOFT WINDOWS? I would imagine not many. Please don't misunderstand me, I am not a Microsoft apologist, I am a realist that realizes where his bread is buttered.

mafergus
mafergus

There are so many different computing systems out there, that i belive that any computing knowledge will help an individual. Many of the "windows" features are emulated in many different operating systems so I think the learning curve would be sufficiently small.

cyrene64
cyrene64

Not everybody have the privilege or access to computing systems. For example, some schools in the underserved areas of the USA.

jfuller05
jfuller05

In high school (some middle-school) we had Intro to computer classes and the classes involved learning basic Windows computing skills such as: manuvering around the desktop, learning Microsoft Office, copying/pasting, etc. you know basic Windows functions. In high school we had two computer classes and I believe we had a keyboarding class in middle-school which involved using Windows XP with Microsoft Word as our means of typing. So, I believe, regardless if you have a computer at home (I didn't), we learn to use Windows at an early age giving familiarity with the product. I believe most everyone can use Windows even if you don't have a computer at home. Friends, school, kids, someone you know has a computer (probably Windows XP at least) and you've probably used it enough for basic input operations that will not hurt your chances of employment.