Windows

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

How did your peers answer this question: Does not having Windows experience put you at a distinct disadvantage?

On April 2, 2010, I polled TechRepublic members on this question:

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

I outlined the premise this way:

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.

The results are clear and are likely not a surprise to the technology-savvy audience on TechRepublic. But the results raise questions about exactly how we are to do something about it. How do we get more people Windows operating experience -- I mean it has a 90% market share? And is the importance of Windows experience a good thing?

Results

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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.

30 comments
fordmontgomery
fordmontgomery

i see many missed the point of this article. some did everything but answer the simple question of "Does not having Windows experience put you at a distinct disadvantage?" the simple answer is YES! almost all business interactions are conducted on Windows and why would an employer want to employ you if you cannot interact with their customers or audience? i am sure in today's economy, people are not purposefully applying to those jobs that make up the 10% market share that Windows is missing. people are applying for jobs that require you to have not only Windows knowledge, they also require Microsoft Office knowledge as well.

Pbraquel
Pbraquel

I have been working with and around IT environments. Mainframes with PCs and thin clients. To survive -- you will need to know and troubleshoot and come up with solutions to issues in Windows, otherwise, using it without much knowledge is pretty useless. It is not ALL Data processing work, like typing a letter in Word and that's it. I know some engineers that aren't really engineers and can't come up with solutions. I have seen programmers that can come up with real solution and a real life program cycle.

rkbrackman
rkbrackman

I think the windows experience is vital to anyone using computers. Especially with the abundance of the browser. I prefer MAC and I operate my business on one. It's more stable and it just works. However, everyone should be familiar with Windows because the technology is not going away anytime soon. Industry note: Depending on your industry you may want to focus on one or the other more. Ex: entertainment lean more to MAC. Medical lean more to windows. Thank you for the article. Great information!

foringmar
foringmar

Windows marketing ploy. Last time I applied for a IT job, they wanted people with knowledge of both Windows and Linux. I had only Windows and was not hired. Are You qualified to be a professional driver if You have only driven ... Chrysler and and no other make of cars? Computing is so much more than just Windows.

jfuller05
jfuller05

I might be the only thinking of this, but I have to ask, "Who really hasn't used a Windows machine?" ?:| I graduated high school in 2005, from a small town too, and we had probably at least 4 mandatory classes (two keyboarding, one intro to computers, and the other yearbook) dealing with Windows machines. In each of the classes we used Windows XP. Granted, these classes did not offer an in-depth study of how XP works, but we learned our way around XP, which is a good foundation for learning how to use a Windows computer. These were mandatory classes and I know my graduating class was not the first class to take these classes. So, really, who hasn't been exposed to a Windows computer?

jllawrence
jllawrence

The only disadvantage one may have by not owning a Windows machine is their own passion for the industry regardless of market share. If I really want to be a monster truck driver I don't expect anyone to pity me because I can't afford a monster truck. If I really intend to submerge myself in the industry, I will find a way to make it happen.

renodogs
renodogs

Whereas nearly 95% of commercial applications run on Windows- I'd say yes, you're an idiot if you think you can ignore knowing how to function/manipulate/troubleshoot Windows. I don't mean to be harsh, but folks that want to ignore numbers like that are simply whistling past the graveyard. An IT Pro not having Windows knowledge/experience is like a race car with no wheels. Nice to look at, but where's the wheels? So here's the choice: Accept reality, or learn to eat lots of baloney because you're going to be unemployed until you get a grip.

rvictor
rvictor

One test I have used is sit a prospective employee in front of a computer and ask them to move an existing file from a folder on one drive to a folder on another drive of the same computer. This test is good for both Mac and PC users. Their verbal comprehension and technical understanding of how computers are organized are quickly reveal. Many people fail this simple test. The ones tha fail usually are ones that take "comprehensive" introduction to computer courses but have never really done anything else outside of their course work.

jacobus57
jacobus57

NO matter what environment you primarily work in, you will be interacting with people who only know windows. If you can't at the very least have an intelligent exchange or translate an issue into terms a Windows user will understand, then you are essentially useless.

PCCathy
PCCathy

I think that many of you missed the point. The question was not "Does not having Windows experience put you at a distinct disadvantage for finding a Network Administration job?" it was "Does not having Windows experience put you at a distinct disadvantage for finding a job?" I think that if any of the polled users were thinking the question was the first then these statistics are wrong. Of course you need Windows experience to get a network admin job. But can you flip burgers, work in retail, work on a farm or get any other entry level position without Windows? My answer, yes but not a great job. However, once you get that job, between your company's training and using computers at the library to get the basics of how to click an icon you can work your way up.

bigmactech
bigmactech

Not having Windows experience is a great asset ? it most likely means you're a Mac user, which is pretty much synonymous with "enlightened user." Too bad Windows even exists. Windows has always been, and always will be, a rather lame attempt to emulate the Mac OS. Tch, tch. Switch to a Mac and you'll never go back. Want to talk network? I was a system admin for a 150 node Macintosh network for over five years ? it was the most boring job I ever had: there was practically nothing to do ? not a single problem relating to the Mac Server OS, no significant down time whatsoever over five years. Windows. What a joke.

pdm_pdq
pdm_pdq

My first experience with Windows goes back approx. 25 years. Safe to say it was the early 80's was my first contact. 25 years is a long time without windows experience. If, since the introduction of windows, a person, in this day and time, has no windows experience then they must not be in the IT field. I'm not a unix or linux person but I have been exposed to it and I can get around in it. Im also not an AS400, cobol, C++, fortran, visualbasic, pearl, java, http, cisco, etc... person, but I have been exposed and can at least "get around" in them. No windows experience? We are talking Earth here, right?

hiram11
hiram11

Someone looking for a half price solution will hire someone with no experience. Let's speak the truth the only thing that matters to most companies is low price that?s why we get most of our goods from China!

reisen55
reisen55

Yes Linux is interesting and Ubuntu a fasincating product. I have worked with IMac systems to my satisfaction. BUT WINDOWS in whatever form is THERE and if you cannot work with it - OS/2 is dead and DOS an ancient memory - give up. Period.

oldbaritone
oldbaritone

The point-and-click graphical user interface has become the standard across virtually all operating systems, but "Windows" is the name most companies associate with it. Just because you drive a Chevy doesn't mean you can't drive a Ford, but if you don't have "Windows" experience, that must mean you don't know how to run a computer. Too true, too often.

zd
zd

Wow, the most surprising thing in this poll are the 6% that think being a Windows sysadmin is knowing to click an icon.... I'm not a fan of Windows file and print (SMB/CIFS) but show me the alternatives in this much neglected space.... I do Windows because my users do Windows. I'd run a Linux laptop otherwise...

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

The results are clear and are likely not a surprise to the technology-savvy audience on TechRepublic. But the results raise questions about exactly how we are to do something about it. How do we (and should we) get more people Windows operating experience - I mean it has a 90% market share? Can't everyone who wants it get Windows experience, get it? And is the importance of Windows experience a good thing? Keep in mind that we approached this question from the perspective of previous forum arguments that suggested the illegal acquisition of Windows was "justified" because the experience was needed and some could not afford it. Not a position I hold, but it has been argued.

noemib
noemib

unfortunately people graduating way before you did in 2005 may not have had the privilege of taking any type of computer classes (including me). I'm an IT manager and on the side I help friends and family with their computer issues. I still run across people who don't own a computer, or even an email address...

jwesleycooper
jwesleycooper

...but you would seem to have missed a key word in the poll, being that it's about *gainful* employment. I'm currently stuck working in a grocery store, as I'm not yet fully trained for programming, so I can honestly tell you that it's _anything_ but gainful! Still think you can work your way up from that? Sorry, friend, but those days are dead and gone; you'll find that what little "training" and "opportunities" that exist from your parent company really aren't worth the time, and that you'll just end up getting stuck as some kind of "Manager" who's really nothing more than a bully and a grunt... I'm just lucky that I qualify for Vocational Rehabilitation, otherwise I really would be up the creek!

amerridy
amerridy

Absolutely. Like you I have been exposed to computers since the early '80s (how many folks remember the 'Trash80'?) The idea that you been in IT for longer than 2 years and have not been exposed to Windows (certainly in the US) is crazy.

jfuller05
jfuller05

I was working with a guy on a computer at college (Vista machine), and due to my lack of familiarity with Vista (Vista had just debuted), he immediately assumed that I didn't know anything about computers. I quickly pointed out that knowledge of an OS doesn't make you a computer expert; it shows that you are good at exploring files and folders. :)

mcbinder
mcbinder

I don't think the poll was for sysadmin jobs. It was to get ANY job (office type job not manual labor) do you have to have Windows experience? It didn't even specify W7 if I recall. mcb

amerridy
amerridy

I find it difficult to imagine there being no way to get Windows experience if you have a computer at all. Every pc for the past 12 years (if not longer) has had Windows pre-installed. For those who don't own their own pcs there are the public libraries, which (at least in NY) all run Windows. Every place I've worked since 1992 has been Windows-centric. There may have been Macs on-site, but Windows has predominated. In offices, the labs, the hospitals, law offices, courts.... Windows is everywhere. Hell, my local supermarket is running their POS system on - you guessed it - WINDOWS. Mac-and Linux lovers may hate it, but only an utter FOOL would try to deny it. This war was won over a decade ago. No Windows experience, no WORK.

chris_thamm
chris_thamm

Anybody who is trying to work in IT without knowing Windows is either incapable of grasping reality or refuses to accept it. It's that simple.

blarman
blarman

If you develop applications, it's unlikely you will be able to escape writing Windows programs. If you develop web-based applications you have either more or less leeway depending on whether you depend on ActiveX. If you're a systems admin, you're most likely going to need to know enough about Windows to get by. If you're strictly a network guy, you might be able to get by while ignoring operating systems other than the Cisco OS. If you do helpdesk, you're pretty useless without Windows experience. It all depends on what field you're in. It would have been interesting to cross-correlate the data with the positions held: I'd bet most server admins and anyone who did any helpdesk work will need Windows experience.

amerridy
amerridy

I've been under-employed for some time now (family issues, etc.) and have started once again looking for full-time work. On at least 3 occasions I have lost out on possible opportunities because I had not yet bitten into Windows 7. I wasted no time coming up with the money for W7 Pro. yes, there are already 'cracked' copies of 7 available, if you want to take the risks associated with that approach. I am a professional. As such, I can't justify stealing for 'experience'. Come on, convince me that after someone has gotten a couple of months out of the new OS that they're going to buy a legal copy. That's theft, any way you slice it. I'm no fan of a lot of MS's shenanigans, but we all know what we are biting into when we get into this business. Those that don't should go do something less challenging. Leave the stealing to the kids and the banks. Sometimes you have to spend money to make money.

RayJeff
RayJeff

Former colleagues of mine and even several friends who are older than me who didn't even smell a computer until they were in graduate school; didn't see a computer until graduate school: that's like 22-24 years of their lives. I actually have a friend who is a few years younger than me and this past week is the first time she's used a Windows machine. And not only using it, she is now "a PC"-she totally converted or will convert from Macs to Windows. My first experience using a Windows machine was when I started college in 1997. Before then, in public school, we had Apple IIs and TRS-80s-gotta love them :) I spent much of that time cutting my teeth with command-line interfaces. I guess I would be one of the few people in the world that still loves DOS.

jfuller05
jfuller05

people 35 and older probably haven't dealt with Windows XP; keyword here: probably. :) I wonder how people haven't used Windows when it's at libraries, schools, most all offices, grocery stores, restaurants; you see my point. Of course, I know people that don't own a computer too. edit: wording

alexisgarcia72
alexisgarcia72

You can use a BETA to create a LAB. I have 3 virtual machines with windows 7 beta versions to play with in a domain enviroment and testing forensic tools.

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