Will someone please ask Nate Silver about this Windows 8 poll?

Byron Acohido of USA Today has an EXCLUSIVE!!!!! poll from the makers of the free AVAST antivirus software.

If true, it suggests that American consumers are tepid about Windows 8.

Most Windows users in the U.S. know about Windows 8 but few have immediate plans to upgrade to Microsoft’s newest operating system.

What’s more, about one-third of Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows XP users who are ready to buy a new personal computer say they intend to switch to an Apple product.

Oh my, I’m sure they’re wringing their hands in Redmond.

On Oct. 25, the day before Windows 8 officially went on sale, Avast polled 1.6 million users of its PC anti-virus product, and got 350,000 responses, including 135,329 from U.S. Windows users.

That’s a huge sample. Of people who have deliberately chosen a free antivirus program. In other words, cheapskates.

Anyway, here’s the rest of the story.

On November 5, AVAST published another poll:

A survey of over 100,000 users of avast! Free Antivirus in the U.S. and its territories predicts [Mitt] Romney as the winner of the U.S. Presidency.

According to AVAST’s survey, 48.9% of users who are registered voters said they will definitely vote for Romney, compared to 46.1% who will vote for Obama. Interpreted by electoral votes, it gives 290 to Romney and 230 to Obama.

So, in other words, wrong.

Kudos to AVAST to getting USA Today to report this poll seriously. The company is actually far more modest about its methodology. Here’s what they said in the press release for their Presidential poll.

“Our reasons for doing the survey weren’t political in nature,” said Vince Steckler, AVAST Software CEO. “We usually use our surveys as an instrument for improving our software and services, but we wanted to see how quickly we’d be able to obtain an extremely large, targeted sample of public opinion.”

And they also offer a disclaimer:

Various factors should be considered. For example, as all those that AVAST polled were users of the firm’s free software in the U.S., there could be economic correlations. Or, the general demographics of avast! users could skew results one way or another.

PS: If you do the math, it’s far less frightening. Here:

Avast’s poll of U.S. Windows users found 16% planned to purchase a new computer. While 68% indicated they would get one of the new Windows 8 models, 30% planned to buy an Apple iPad touch tablet, and 12%, an Apple Macintosh computer.

Hmmm, there’s a wee problem right out of the gate. 68% + 30% + 12% = 110%, which is probably indicative of voter fraud or something.

But anyway… Get out your calculators. The real numbers, if true (a shaky proposition), show that fewer than 5% of AVAST customers (30% of 16%) plan to buy an iPad to go with their PC. And 1.9% (12% of 16%) plan to switch to a Mac.

Meanwhile, close to 11% (68% of 16%) plan to buy a new Windows 8 PC, and 84% are going to stick with their current Windows PC.

No wonder the only time I ever read USA Today is when I get it free at a hotel.

13 thoughts on “Will someone please ask Nate Silver about this Windows 8 poll?

  1. LOL. Ed, you’re on fire lately. Unfortunately, the bullshit articles make an impression. It’s like indicting someone. The indictment makes headlines. The subsequent acquittal? Not so much. But thanks for keeping it real for the rest of us.

  2. Well, AVAST and other AV companies are no more that important after MSE 2.0 is huge successful. They want some other platform to hang on, so they are deflecting their polls towards next one.

  3. While I agree with 99.9% of your post Ed, you really make a gaffe with the Cheapskate remark. Considering MSE is FREE! That makes anyone who owns Windows 8 irrelevant with that statement because they are cheapskates by association for using a free AV product.

    It’s Avast and USA Today, what did you expect?

    1. Ray, you must have missed the tongue-in-cheek nature of that remark. My point, which Avast also acknowledges (and USA Today does not) is that the sample population is not representative of the computer-buying population at large.

      If someone were to survey only people who have deliberately installed Microsoft Security Essentials you would have a similar sample problem.

  4. The extra 10%?

    10% of those polled are planning to get TWO of the 3 options presented:

    PC + Mac, PC + iPad, Mac + iPad

    Ed, This is obvious. What’s up?

    1. pk,

      No, it’s not “obvious.” It’s a logical explanation, but without the questions and the survey methodology, it is a guess.

      Like the entire survey.

  5. I happen to be a respondent in this survey as well as a research professional for over 20 years. When I took the survey I was sure it was just a quick and dirty instrument designed to give Avast a bit of data they might later use on a properly designed and implemented study. At BEST this is what it was, from my perspective. The idea they would actually share this info with a media outlet never occurred to me. (Major media outlets report any findings and do very little to analyze the methodology, sample, etc.)

    With that said:

    A large sample (even a HUGE sample) does not necessarily mean a representative sample–in this case, it may not even be representative of Avast Free users as I have no idea how the sample was obtained. Even a good, representative sample won’t give you great results if your instrument is terrible.

    Adding together all the products respondents planned to purchase will nearly always add up to over 100% if respondents were allowed to choose more than one computer. I believe I picked at least two things I plan to buy.

    Avast seems to be a fine AV company, but based on this, I wonder who is running their marketing research.

  6. This poll is only interesting to ignorant people. Plain and simple…the VAST majority of people have never in their lives EVER bought a Windows package, other than the OEM that came with their computer. VERY few people have ever gone through the process of installing an OS on their computer. Because they don’t need to. Their current one does what they want it to. And since people are keeping their computers longer these days since a 4-5 year old computer still works fine comapred to a 4-5 year old computer ten years ago (meaning a computer bought in 2007 works much better today than a 1997 computer did in 2002) very few people will be getting Windows 8 for awhile.

    As far as “a third are going to choose an Apple product for their next personal computer” that is also BS. and iPad is not a personal computer. No one is doign any real work on an iPad’s tocuh screen. And more people sync their iPhones, iPods and iPads with a Windows PC than a Mac.

    Regardless…by the end of winter, Windows 8 will have a higher market share for real computers (desktops and laptops) than every non-Windows OS combined.

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