OS percentages

Last week I requested feedback about operating system usage among Photoshop CS4 customers, and I said I’d share the findings here.  Having gathered some 1,200 responses, I can share a few notes I found interesting.


I was curious mainly about how rapidly Windows-based customers are adopting 64-bit operating systems.  You get both 32- and 64-bit flavors of Photoshop in the CS4 box, but plug-in developers need to know when a critical mass of customers will demand 64-bit compatibility.  Of current CS4 customers running PS on Windows:


  • 39% (!) are using Vista 64
  • 8% are planning to migrate in 3-6 months
  • 9% are planning to migrate in 6-12 months
  • 23% are planning to migrate "at some point"
  • 20% are not planning to migrate


I should point out that this poll is hardly scientific–more like sticking your finger in the air to gauge wind direction.  Still, I was struck by the high number of people using Vista 64.  Of course, the data come from people who bought CS4 in its first two
months, and who are motivated to read my blog and to answer surveys. 


My take is that Windows-based customers aren’t in any rush to install Vista on existing hardware, but that when they do buy new machines, they’re going with Vista 64.  In any case, it’s great to see people moving forward.  The sooner customers drop old technologies, the sooner we can lop off (and stop maintaining) old code.


Here’s another wrinkle in the numbers: among visitors to this blog, Mac browsers account for just
over one third, yet 68% of survey respondents say they run PS
on a Mac (with 60% running it primarily there). I take this to mean Mac
users are disproportionately likely to respond to an OS usage survey. The
same may be true for Vista 64 adopters (who are proud of their choice and
want you to know about it).


If you’d like to see the raw data collected, be my guest.

17 thoughts on “OS percentages

  1. Interesting compilation of data. Thank you.
    Now, I realize you won’t discuss details of your sales figures, but knowing a rough approximation of the percentage of Mac sales v. Windows sales would help put your survey into tighter perspective.

  2. I’m not sure that you can trust browser statistics anymore. I was getting hammered by some comment spam and took a look at my raw logs to discover that I was getting a lot of automated traffic from machines advertising themselves as windows-based user-agents, but that clearly were not human users. (They do things like make post requests out of nowhere and don’t pass the verification tests). Combine that with search engine bots and other non-human traffic and you might be surprised how much that can skew your data. I wouldn’t have a difficult time believing that the one third of mac browsers is actually a fairly large percentage of your authentically human users.

  3. “I take this to mean Mac users are disproportionately likely to respond to an OS usage survey.”
    But you only asked for respondents who are using CS4, so couldn’t it also mean that Mac users are more likely to have upgraded to CS4 by now, and so the pool of potential respondents is mostly full of mac users to begin with?

  4. With the clear headway the mac users are portraying – does this indicate any enthusiasm on Adobe’s side to start developing 64 Bit versions of their software for Mac OS X?
    [Quick, can you tell me what is far and away the most popular 64-bit Mac application? It’s Lightroom 2. What’s the most popular 64-bit Mac application from Apple? Are they actually shipping any?
    Photoshop not being 64-bit on Mac has nothing to do with “enthusiasm.” If Apple had delivered Carbon 64 support as planned, you’d have a 64-bit Photoshop right now. They changed course, and we changed course accordingly. –J.]
    I assume the closer to Snow Leopard’s release, the more we’ll know publicly?
    [No. The roadmap has been clear since WWDC ’07, when Carbon 64 disappeared from Apple’s presentations. (At WWDC ’06 and up until the ’07 show, they’d presented Carbon and Cocoa as equally supported ways to move to 64-bit.) There’s no ambiguity, just lots and lots of work (and consequently time) required to move to Cocoa. –J.]

  5. As a very happy PSx64-on-Vistax64 user myself (and a respondent in this query), I can only say to the non-x64 crowd: get with the program already! The speed increases possible with Photoshop x64 and plenty of RAM (now cheap as hell) in your OS should make such an upgrade a no-brainer for working professionals — it can cut the “dumb waiting time” involved in working with large PS files down to a quarter or even less.
    Merry Xmas, John, and thanks for the great x64 present you and your colleagues gave me! 🙂

  6. Hey John,
    Talking about 64 bit. I’ve been waiting for almost 2 years for you guys to release the 64 bit version of the DNG codec. What’s up with that? So much for Adobe wanting to push the DNG format.
    Merry Xmas!

  7. > The sooner customers drop old technologies,
    > the sooner we can lop off (and stop
    > maintaining) old code.
    Dropping support for old tech at the operating system level would be revolutionary for Microsoft. 😉
    [I’ve been thinking about this comment a bit today. The vendors’ policies cut both ways.
    Microsoft ends up hauling around a tremendous amount of old baggage, but there’s a reason Photoshop is shipping in 64-bit form on Windows and not yet on Mac–namely, that getting to Win64 doesn’t require a large-scale rewrite of the application.
    Apple has frequently required large investments from vendors (OS X, Cocoa, Mach-O, 68K-PPC, PPC-Intel, etc.), and it’s required customers to wait for software, deal with things like Classic and Rosetta, etc. (And this applies to Apple-made software, too: there’s no 64-bit Final Cut Pro, Aperture, etc., so you can’t pin all blame on “lazy” third-party developers.
    I don’t know that there’s any one right way. There certainly isn’t with Photoshop, and it’s painful to cut off support for something. (Even if just 1% of Photoshop customers use a given feature, that translates into tens of thousands of people.) Apple and MSFT both make trade-offs, and it’s our job to make the most of whatever foundation they provide. –J.]

  8. John, Many of us out there like to get our return on investment from the software and machines we buy and the and are not too happy with all the upgrades of OS which make us pay for things several times over.Its like buying a new car every so many years because the manufacturer does not like to keep parts on hand. We however, like the photoshop upgrades because they are easy to install,worth the price and don’t put us through a whole new learning process before we get our money’s worth.This is probably a bigger issue than you guys think.

  9. I’m pretty sure you’re seeing the Early Adopters; perhaps you should try this survey again in a few months and see if you get any different results?
    32 Bit Vista has much steeper hardware requirements than XP, but doesn’t offer any performance benefit. The 64 bit Vista still has alot of system overhead, but allows you to throw more RAM at the problem past the 3-ish gigabyte barrier.
    Our best options for bang-for-the-buck Photoshop are either (1) Run a lean XP or (2) Run a Vista 64 with a boatload of RAM.

  10. I’m a beginner to begin with. My questions maybe doesn’t involve ‘OS percentages’ at all. (I don’t know what it is)
    But, please…
    Can you tell me how to make ‘moving pictures’
    Maybe my words not on the photoshop term.
    But, what I mean is,
    a picture that shows 2-3 pictures altogether, blinking like a slide show…
    LOL~ You must be laughing to read my sentences right here. I’m terribly sorry if you don’t understand at all what I’m writing right here.
    But, all of your helping is highly grattitude.

  11. John, I am of the accumulated opinion of professionals I know that I should switch to Mac before I go to Vista in any form. Since I have to much invested in PC, I will not go to Vista until such point that XP or 2000, which I like. is no longer available. I will not dedicate a line to Vista ever, so that presents a problem until the next version after Vista come out. I suggest you keep code to XP use until such time that the next generation after Vista come along. Merry Christmas to you and the family. I hope your new one is doing fine. Alex

  12. Very interesting and very insightful of you to take the survery, this is useful information for Adobe and others I am sure.
    I suspect the biggest reason people are moving to 64-bit is to use more memory. Memory prices are low and it is one of the few ways that one can get a performance increase whening massive programs.
    Myself I am still 32-bit and will be until more driver issues are taken care of and more of the plug-ins that I use and can’t live without make it to 64-bit. I already have Vista Ultimate 64-bit sitting here waiting for that.

  13. @Alex: Don’t believe the negatives about Vista. I made the switch and definitely wouldn’t go back. Like the numerous small, unheralded improvements in workflow that came with CS3, there are bits in Vista that help get from point a to point b faster. Like OSX, there are features in Vista that have only cosmetic value and are best turned off (easy to do, thankfully) if you want to get work done.
    On the negative side, CS4 is buggier than CS3 was at launch and in a 32-bit environment seems overall slower, which vitiates the workflow improvements to some degree. Upgrading the video hardware helps, though not as much as I expected. (Screen refresh in PS CS4 is occasionally painfully slow compared with CS3. CS4 also has horrible memory leakage that’s yet to be fixed.)

  14. My XPpro machine died and shopping around I found 64bit Vista was widely available. I didn’t expect that. Considering 64bit addresses more RAM I decided why not. My Epson printer has drivers for Vista so that wasn’t a problem.
    LR 1.4 works just fine. I just have to activate CS2 (it keeps telling me my serial number isn’t valid) and I’ll be up and running.
    If Microsoft needs an ad campaign try “Use it. It works”

  15. Unfortunately, lately, people have no choice but to buy a 64bit PC. For instance, HP does not sell 32 bit PCs anymore. I want to buy CS3, but it seems CS3 does not work on the new 64bits. Basically, since I am forced to buy 64bit I need access to 64 bit apps.

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