Tag Archives: Vista

Market Share of FireFox

firefox-logoI was an early user of FireFox, but FireFox version 1 would simply not render many sites that I used.  So I waited.  In the summer of 2007 I decided to try Ubuntu as the only OS on my main computer for a while, and for 6 months I only could use FireFox, by this time they were on version 2 and it worked as well as IE did on my laptop, so I installed FireFox on the laptop also.  It was great.  When I moved back to the US I had left my computer behind so I was back to XP, and then Vista but I still installed FireFox right away.  Then in the third quarter of 2008 they came out with version 3, and my gosh, it is now far BETTER than IE by every measure I tested it with.  I now use it about 95% of the time, there are still a few banks that will not allow FireFox to log in, and of course some Microsoft Sites.

So after all of this I decided to see how many people use FireFox as a percent of the whole.  First I looked at my sites, a very biased view of the world.  On my Treasure Page, a page that existing customers go to the number is 58% for FireFox and 40% for IE.  This number is interesting because we install FireFox on all of the computers we sell, we put both of the icons next to each other, so this means that if given the choice most people choose FireFox.    On our main page for selling computers recent numbers show that 37% use FireFox and 57%  use IE, this is much more like a random sample of the public.

So I decided to look around, and I found that the Global Market Share of FireFox is a bit over 20%.  There is a good company that tracks all of this here.  They have found something interesting also, that on weekends and on holidays the FireFox market share is MUCH higher than on weekdays.  This is mostly due to the fact that most people are forced to only use IE when they are at work, they usually don’t have the ability to install new browsers, and most companies don’t use firefox.  So the numbers for residential usage is probably much closer to 30-35% while the number for corporate usage of FireFox is probably in the single digits.  I hope the good people at FireFox will notice this and try to focus their efforts on fixing it.  It is obvious that people who have the choice choose FireFox, and at least 30% of the public cares enough about the added benefit of FireFox to install it and use it.  I figure at least 50% of the web surfing public can not figure out how to install it or does not even know that it exists.  FireFox then should also work with the OEM Computer Companies to get them to install it.

The only thing I really miss is that in IE I could hit Control-N and it would open a new window with the current window and its history intact, in FireFox it simply opens a new window with your home page.  I have heard other techie people talk about this also, but still there is no option for this.  The best fix I have found is an Add-On program called Duplicate Tab, it basically does this and a few other things.

Tell me what you think, reply down below.

Computer Entry: How to select a laptop.

This article is part of my Computer series, click here for the list of other entries.

Today there are so many features on laptops. For most businesses they simple need a good laptop that works for a long period of time and at a great low price. So when they look at laptops they see units that are almost exactly the same with huge price differences. Many upgrades and things in the laptop world simply are not logical and not needed. I will talk about many of them and tell you the secret to finding the best prices.

For example 250 GB hard drives are fairly new, and 320GB laptop hard drives are still very rare. The standard is a 160GB hard drive. The larger hard drive, can ad 100-200 dollars to the price of the laptop, for just a bit more space. The average business customer uses less than 40GB of space so it is crazy to pay extra for this space.

One thing that you should know about laptops is that all laptops sold are really only made by 7 companies, and all of these companies are Chinese. Every brand you see is really a laptop from one of these companies branded with the company logo. Dell uses 5 of these 7 companies. Because of this you will notice laptops from different brands that look exactly the same, you will also notice laptops from the same brands that look totally different. The only one of these makers that sells laptops direct is Acer, but their laptops are usually very low quality and it is usually better to pay a bit more for better quality.

In the world of computers the price of something is more about how many of them are being sold and NOT about how good or complex the item is. The main cost in any item is the designing of the item and the equipment to make the item. For a CPU for example it costs up to a billion dollars to design a new chip and may cost less than $10 to actually make the chip. So if you make 20 million of these chips the cost is $60 per chip, but if you make 500 million of them your cost is $11 per chip. You even get more savings that that when you build a lot of the same item. Because of this many newer, better and faster things are much cheaper. Many CPUs are much higher in level than what you are buying but the maker just takes the higher ones and disables some higher features and sells them as a lower unit because it is cheaper to do this than make the lower unit any longer. RAM is also the same way, DDR2 is much better and faster than DDR but because it is made in much larger amounts it is cheaper. This is called “Economy of Scale” and it hold true from everything from your TV to you Car.

In the world of laptops this idea works all over the place. In my opinion HP and Toshiba make great laptops and because they sell so many they are actually better and more updated than laptops made for the same price by other companies. Because Sony is so much more money they sell less, and have a higher cost, a bad situation to be in. By far most laptops that are sold have a 15.4 inch screen, so laptops with this size are also the lowest priced of all laptops. Touchpads are by far the most popular and their price has plummeted so they now have the lowest price and are now the only choice most companies offer. DVD burners do everything you would want an optical drive to do, and because they are built in such number now they are cheaper than all of the lower types to put in, thus every laptop you will see has a DVD burner, because it is cheaper and has a larger perceived value to the customer.

The choice of CPU, Hard Drive, Optical Drive and many of the other parts of a laptop, and computers in general are based on this idea. Now to get the best deal you need to look at many different laptops and notice the trends. A laptop that floods the market may be $100 less than the others and yet be much better. This is why people hire my company to find their next laptop, we know the trends and we have a very small markup. They can pay us and still end up with a faster and better laptop and pay LESS money than if they went to wherever they normally go for laptops.

What Exactly to look for in a business laptop.

When you look for your laptop simply compare the specs from one laptop to another, but it pays to have a huge source and look at large lists of laptops because you will often find a better deal on that list.

Balance: When you look for any computer look for balance, too much CPU power at the cost of everything else will result in a slower computer. Also think about what you want to use the laptop for. If you want to play high end games then insist on a laptop with a higher end video card, it may cost $100 or more extra but will do what you want. With computers running vista you really need at least 2GB of RAM to do things efficiently. If you find a great deal on a laptop with only 1GB, buy it then upgrade the RAM later, it may be much cheaper. Don’t spend the extra money getting a much larger hard drive, first 90% of all users never use the space, second if you need more space you can get an external hard drive later, but mostly that extra bit of space really costs a lot of money in most cases. Almost every laptop comes with Vista Home Premium. This is ok for about 90% of the people out there, but if you expect to join a domain be sure to get the business version. Also if you really need XP you are looking for a older out of production laptop, these would have been sold at a much higher price to the seller and they will be asking more for them, and you get less new features than a Vista laptop.

Battery Life: Also think about battery life, for the road warrior out there it is important to have that computer last a long time. So this is what you should look for, first you need to have a processor that can scale back and use less power when you don’t need full power, but can scale up as when you do need the power. The AMD Turion is the best AMD chip at this job, but Intel really dominates this concept with their Core 2 Duo and their entire Centrino line.  Companies have spent a lot of time and money focusing on power saving, so newer technology chips are much better at this than older ones.  For any laptop the MAIN use of power is for the screen, usually it is hard to find the power consumption of the screen, but again newer technology is better.  To get all this best technology be willing to pay for it.

Size: For many people, the size of the laptop is very important, they want a smaller, thinner and more portable laptop. Because of economy of scale there is a common size that most makers make, small enough to sell in huge number and large enough to not be too much money to make. When you want to go smaller you fight economy of scale and also the fact that smaller parts cost more. Because of this smaller, thinner laptops cost much more. Every now and then a company will make a really small laptop in a large quantity and if you find that you can get a great deal on a laptop just the way you want. Don’t get the smaller laptop unless you really have figured out how much you are really paying for that option.

Laptops also change really fast. Think about how they are made. The design of the laptop, and making the first one is over half the cost of the entire run. So companies will make the really hard analysis to decide how many of a laptop design to order from the places that make them. Once the production run is over that laptop is usually never made again. Because it takes so long to build a container of laptops, maybe 2 weeks, then 2 more weeks to ship them it these companies have to predict upfront how many may sell. Usually the production run is less than a few full shipping containers. So the company, lets use HP, designs a laptop, orders 10,000 of them. They are made and shipped, they arrive in the US and are quickly sent to wholesale warehouses and retail stores all over the US. Amazon buys some, Wal-Mart buys some. Before the container even lands in the US HP will try to have it all sold. If it is all sold they may order another production run of 10,000. Almost every week a new, better chipset or CPU or something comes out, and often for a better price. So the designers are always looking to go to the next thing. And that brand new, popular design is now put out of production, never to be made again. Most designs are already put out of production before the first customer even gets one. It is a harsh business with huge risks and huge investments. This is also why only a few companies are really players in this business.

Every now and then a design is produced in a larger amount than that which can be quickly sold off. When this happens they slash the price and dump it on the wholesale market. Sometimes they just sold this computer for $700 to Wal-Mart and have only 500 units left and the design is no longer made so they dump it for $500 or less. Most wholesale companies only mark up parts 10% or less because there is huge competition. Only computer companies can usually buy from these wholesale places, this is exactly what we do here at Emerald Computers. We look for the best of these wholesale deals, select them and we post an online flyer and send email updates to our customers. If you are not getting our email you really are missing some great deals.

So what would I do it I was going to buy a laptop today? You choice for a laptop or any computer is based on what you plan to use the computer for and your personal habits.  Here is the logic that I use, if you need help choosing a laptop then email me your phone number and I will call you and help you with the process.  Lets make it fair and give me a budget of under $1000.  First I would budget in a Microsoft Wireless Laser Optical Laptop Mouse.  They are really a must have for me for long usage, and at under $25 they are a bargain.  Next I would look for a Turion based laptop unless I could find a special on a Intel based one.  The Turion ones are usually at least $100 less for the same speed.  I almost never go a long time on battery power so for me personally batter life is not much of a concern.  What is a concern is a high resolution screen.  I would stick to a 15.4″ size simply because it is just the right size for me, 17″ it is a bit to big, but I try to get at least the 1440×900 resolution, maybe the 1680×1050 (WSXGA+).  I would not get the very common 1280×800 because for me and my eyes I can see much better than that and I need the space.  I don’t game on my laptop so an average video card is good for me.  And I have a few external hard drives, and most of my data will stay on my main computer so a 160GB drive is ok for me.  I like to multitask so I would need 2GB of RAM, I would not get more than 2GB because it takes extra power to run that extra ram, and I almost never go over 2GB, also I like to hibernate my computer and more RAM makes that much slower. When a new OS comes out I may upgrade the RAM.  I would still look at computers with 1GB because I know can upgrade the RAM very cheap on my own.  I do watch DVD movies and I like to have good sound so I would look for a computer with a nice DVD drive and good speakers.  I would also look at a picture of the laptop first, different makers have much different styles and I only like some of them.  I also like black better than silver, but that will not kill the deal.  I found a laptop just like this for only a bit over the budget.  You need to look for one based on your needs.

So when you are ready for your next laptop you now have much more information, you will probably have more than the employee selling the products. I wish you good luck, and if you ever need help feel free to email or call my company, we will be happy to help you.


OK, I admit it, I was wrong. My OS Choice.

As most of you know my main business is Emerald Computers, a computer company, where I sell computers and give advise.  Many people look to me as their computer expert.

Well for the first year of Vista being out I was negative on it, right when vista came out I was in my Ubuntu phase.  I was trying to use linux as much as I could to see if it really could replace everything that I did.  Because of this I did not personally use Vista, I used it on the computers I was fixing but not on my main computer.

After 6 months of trying Ubuntu I decided that, for me, a power user there were too many things that just did not work yet.  There were MANY things that were much better, than the Microsoft world, but lack of support for my games, QuickBooks, Photoshop and yahoo chat with webcam were the things I could no longer live without.  I went back to XP, and I was happy.  Well in late April XP crashed on me for the 3rd time.  I needed to reload so I decided to take a gamble and install vista.  I figured my computer is VERY fast so even if vista is crappy slow it will still not be that bad.  I have used vista on about 50 or so customers computers, and mostly disliked it due to the fact that most things were moved around.

Well vista loaded, it did it faster than XP, and almost all of my hardware was detected.  It was great.  Next I loaded my software, and I load a lot of things, I have checklist of about 30 things that I load on every new computer.  Almost everything I had worked right away, the ones that did not were fixed by upgrading to the newest version.  Even when you are an Administrator you don’t have real administrator rights, this is just like Ubuntu.  In Ubuntu you just put sudo in front of anything you want to run as an admin.  In Vista you do sort of the same, you just right click on it and click on “Run as Administrator”.  It was a very easy.  As a computer geek there were about 20-30 things I changed to make it easier to use, such as network settings, sharing settings, and all the programs I run.

So now I have been using it for a month, I wanted to wait a month before I wrote this blog so that I had a more expert opinion.  I run Vista SP1 Ultimate.  I have found it to be better than XP in almost every area, and in the areas it is not better it is exactly the same as XP.  I was surprised how many small programs are basically exactly the same as XP was.  I thought they would rework everything, but there are major things the left the same, even though the XP version was bad (Such as how fonts are loaded,

Now many people have said that Vista is slower.  I have seen many customers that have 4-5 year old computers and they load vista and YES it is slower.  My computer is 3 years old but it was a top of the line computer when it was built and it is still faster than 90% of the computers our company makes, it is a 4.9 on Vistas performance scale of 1-5.  So on my computer it runs great, it is MUCH faster than XP, and almost as fast as Ubuntu.

So if you have at least 1GB of ram and a Dual Core CPU Vista is great for you.  If you have a single core CPU or 512MB of RAM stick with XP.  Basically if your computer is over 2 years old and you want vista just get a new computer.  I can help you with that if you leave a comment, I can tell you want you need for your usage model.

So my OS of choice is now Vista.  It runs all the stuff I need and is fast.  There are many good ideas and features in Ubuntu that Vista could easily put in.  I don’t agree with some of the philosophy behind Vista, about making closed source drivers, and pushing towards trusted computing, for this reason I hope Ubuntu will soon be able to run, with ease, all of the things I need, and then I hope it starts to gain popularity.  Until then I will use Vista, or the next thing that MS creates.

Safari on windows!

Wow, for once I am shocked and impressed by something in this industry. Mac just released Safari for Windows today. (Click here to get it) I was not keeping track and did not know it was coming, but shortly after midnight it came on saying that I could get it. I quickly installed it, and tested it out on my PC. The graphics look about the same but slightly better. I think they up the color setting on everything, and I like it. It seems to load as fast or faster. I will have to learn how to make some changes to it that I like to have but I will give it a good try.

This is a good idea that was a decade in the making. When you use it you feel like you are using a mac. I am a PC guy but I do see how this will get many new customers for Mac. I already see their market share increasing due to the tragic and predictable failure of Microsoft Vista. (Click here to see a survey of how big a failure vista really is)

I also downloaded FireFox on the day it came out, it was not so great at first but as IE got worse FireFox got better. For most of 2007 I used Ubuntu as my OS but I finally had to break down and go back to Windows on my main computer, but I did not go back to IE. I miss many things about Ubuntu, it is a much better OS but there are a few programs I need that simply don’t exist yet in the Linux world.

Thanks mac for raising the bar. I hope Microsoft either steps up or fades away soon.