Steam Survey Stats: future for Windows (+ Apple M1)

Just checking the latest Steam Software and Hardware Stats, a few things stand-out:

64-bit versions of Windows are overwhelmingly dominant

64-bit versions of Windows 7, 8.0, 8.1 and 10 account for approx’ 99.6% of all devices Steam collected data from. Now true, Steam is mostly used by gamers and most modern-games (at-least, high-end titles) usually specify 8GB RAM minimum, 16GB recommended, so Steam is not going to be representative of all devices out there. But still… 99.6%! At what point should Microsoft really start to consider if it’s worth putting development and testing time into maintaining the 32-bit versions of Windows 10? Apple has twice now told developers to ditch 32-bit code: a few years back, ahead of iOS going 64-bit only, and recently with the Apple M1, which is ARM64 native and will run, via Rosetta 2, AMD64 apps, but no 32-bit code (though, similar to the original Rosetta, don’t expect AMD64-app support to be there forever!). Yet to-date, Microsoft has only ditched 16-bit only systems, and the 64-bit versions also still run 32-bit code (though all drivers have to be 64-bit). I wonder when we may finally see from Microsoft a 64-bit only version of Windows, that will only run 64-bit code and does-away with the “Program Files (x86)” and “SysWOW64” folders?

Most users have 4, 8 or 16GB of RAM

Around 87% of surveyed devices have one of three amounts of RAM: 45.7% have 16GB; 33.9% have 8GB; 7.2% have 4GB. So, considering the new Apple M1 chips have the system RAM integrated in the chip (as do virtually all phones and non-Windows tablet devices), why don’t AMD and Intel both move to doing the same, at-least for CPUs aimed at low-to-mid range devices, especially laptops and tablets? I would bet the vast, vast majority of average PC users have never upgraded a single hardware component on their computer, especially if it’s a laptop or Windows-targeted tablet device, so why not follow Apple and move the RAM into the CPU chip? High-end devices, and business-targeted models, could retain external RAM slots, sure, but low-to-mid range should just ship with whatever is built-in. With an SSD for paging, 4GB is usable for many users, and 8GB certainly is. For gaming, you’d be better-off with a desktop (more upgradable, and less throttling due to heat) and for things like editing massive RAW images, exporting movies, CAD work, running multiple virtual-machines, compiling apps or running huge databases, sure, more than 16GB likely is needed… but those examples are clearly not representative of what the vast majority do on their devices.

The most-common screen resolutions are “Full HD” and “HD Ready”

68.3% of users have “Full HD” (1920×1080) as their primary display resolution; and around 10.6% use “HD Ready” (1366×768). 1366×768 remains common on laptop screens in the low-and-mid range (especially laptops up-to 15.6″ displays; 17″ devices often have 1440×900 or 1600×900), and is what many websites target (width-wise) for their “desktop version”. Yet oddly, you rarely see screens with exactly double this resolution: 2732×1536. To me, this would make-sense as then for users who find the highest-resolution too-small, they could simply drop-down to 1366×768, where every pixel would be represented by 4 pixels on-screen: two horizontally, and two vertically, giving a perfect, crisp image, avoiding scaling-algorithms or the OS’ own “High DPI” support. Whereas if you were to halve 1920×1080 you get 960×540; which may be fine on a small-screen, or low-end phone, but is no-good on a Windows device as many apps won’t run on anything less-than 1024×768, or at-least some of their dialog-boxes will not fully-appear on-screen.


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