How DOES a Computer Novice Upgrade?
I recently stumbled across Microsoft's Sacred Cash Cow which examines Microsoft's reliance on sales of Windows and Office to drive their revenues, and how Microsoft has made poor decisions in the past in order to protect their two cash cows. The article's all right, but what really got me thinking was this sentence mid-way through the piece:
[Paul] Andrews[, a Seattle Times columnist,] was surprised to learn recently that Jim Allchin, Microsoft group vice president of platforms, didn’t realize that many users don’t buy new computers because of how hard it is to move all their data and applications. “He was totally oblivious to this,” Andrews says. “It’s a couple-day process. His head was in the clouds.”
And that got me thinking - how does a computer novice upgrade his or her home computer and keep their important files? Take a friend of mine who shall remain nameless. He is one of the most novice computer users I've met, using his computer primarily for downloading songs, email, and the Internet. Now how in the world is he going to upgrade his system and keep those songs he downloaded, along with his Outlook email file, which last time I checked was over 1 GB in size?
If it were me, add the hard drive to the new machine, dump the files over to the new computer's hard drive, and then remove the old one. Or maybe I'd network the two up in an ad-hoc ethernet configuration. But my friend doesn't know how to take out a hard drive, let alone what one even looks like. He knows how to plug devices into his computer because they are color coded, so I doubt he'd be able to build a network (which would require either a hub or a crimper to rewire the ethernet cable). Burning the several gigs of songs and email content to CD would seem too daunting. And even if my friend did manage to get the files over to his new computer, I doubt he'd know what to do next. He plays his MP3s through Kazaa's media player screen. He doesn't know how to tell Outlook to use a different PST file than the default one it is configured to use.
So how do computer novices upgrade and keep the hundreds of MBs, or even GBs of important data? Do they just not upgrade? Do they take it to BestBuy and ask their techies to do it for them? Do they rely on their computer geek friends? I wonder... and I'd wager this would become more and more of an issue as hard drive sizes keep increasing, and as people start using their computers as a media store for movies, TV shows, and so forth, resulting in very large amounts of data to transfer to new systems.