The 2014 RISC OS Survey

This was the second survey run by RISCOSitory on the RISC OS Awards website, alongside the awards poll covering the same year. Apart from the initial receipt of the entries being on a Windows computer, all processing was carried out on a Raspberry Pi running RISC OS, using Fireworkz, Draw, Artworks2 and ConvImgs.

The idea of combining a survey with an annual awards poll should, in theory, provide a picture of how the RISC OS community looks, and allow developers and companies involved in the RISC OS platform to keep what they offer relevant - especially considering that it is an undeniable fact that the number of RISC OS users is low in the extreme.

With that in mind, as mentioned in the 2014 Awards results, at around 100 the number of people who voted in the awards and took part in the survey was significantly lower than the previous one. The RISC OS community isn't a large one, which is an obvious factor in low numbers in generally, and for this particular year it is likely that people were put off taking part due to the nature of the Awards Poll, which didn't offer any options this time, and instead allowed people to suggest categories.

Despite the low number of entries, though, compiling the results into meaningful figures still needed to be done - but it needs to be stressed that the number of survey results completed is low enough that it may not be statistically representative - even less so than it was for the 2012/13 result.

For this reason, there is very little analysis of the numbers... For each percentage given, the +/- value in brackets is the increase or decrease in the percentage compared with the previous survey.

In general, however, while not everyone who took part answered every question, instead leaving the "I'd rather not say" option selected, the number doing this for each question was very low. These are obviously not counted in the results below.

The 2014 RISC OS Survey Results

How many RISC OS systems do you own?

Pie chart showing typical numbers of RISC OS
                                     computers owned.
Typical numbers of RISC OS computers owned.
There were six possible answers to this question, ranging from zero to four computers, and five or more. The results are broken down as follows:
  • 0.00% (-0.69%) of people said they didn't own a RISC OS computer.
  • 7.37% (-0.91%) said they owned just one RISC OS computer.
  • 15.79% (-2.14%) said they owned two RISC OS computers.
  • 18.95% (-1.05%) said they owned three RISC OS computers.
  • 15.79% (-1.45%) said they owned four RISC OS computers.
  • 42.10% (+6.24%) of people said they owned five or more RISC OS computers.

And of those, how many are in regular or semi-regular use?

Pie chart showing typical numbers of RISC OS
                                     computers in use.
Typical numbers of RISC OS computers in use.
There were again six possible answers to this question, matching the options in the previous question, and the results are broken down as follows:
  • 5.21% (-1.64%) of people said they didn't make use of their RISC OS computers.
  • 30.21% (+2.81%) said they used just one of their RISC OS computers.
  • 31.25% (+1.79%) said they used two of their RISC OS computers.
  • 23.96% (+1.36%) said they used three of their RISC OS computers.
  • 7.29% (-1.61%) said they used four of their RISC OS computers.
  • 2.08% (-2.71%) said they used five or more of their RISC OS computers.

Which version of RISC OS do you use most?

Pie chart showing a breakdown of which versions
                                     of RISC OS are most used.
Breakdown of which versions of RISC OS are most used.
There were seven possible answers to this question, giving 'base' versions of RISC OS, and people were asked to select the closest version below the one they use the most. The results are:
  • 0.00% (unchanged) of people said they used RISC OS 2.0
  • 4.21% (+2.85%) of people said they used RISC OS 3.0
  • 3.16% (+0.44%) of people said they used RISC OS 3.5
  • 7.37% (+0.57%) of people said they used RISC OS 4.0
  • 8.42% (-5.87%) of people said they used RISC OS 4.2
  • 67.37% (+2.74%) of people said they used RISC OS 5.0
  • 9.47% (-0.73%) of people said they used RISC OS 6.0

What is your main platform for using RISC OS?

Pie chart showing a breakdown of which platforms
                                     are used to run RISC OS.
Breakdown of what platforms are used most.
There were nine possible answers to this question, and the results can be broken down as follows:
  • 19.79% (-2.66%) of people said they were using a Raspberry Pi-based system.
  • 12.50% (-2.47%) of people said they were using a BeagleBoard-based system.
  • 12.50% (+2.98%) of people said they were using a PandaBoard-based system.
  • 17.71% (-1.34%) of people said they were using an IyonixPC.
  • 14.58% (-5.15%) of people said they were using a RiscPC.
  • 0.00% (-1.36%) of people said they were using an A7000
  • 8.33% (-0.51%) said they were using VirtualAcorn or VirtualRiscPC.
  • 9.38% (+8.02%) said they were using RPCEmu.
  • 5.21% (+2.49%) of people said they were using something else.

How long have you been a RISC OS user?

Pie chart showing how long people have
                                     been using RISC OS
Breakdown of the amount of time people have been using RISC OS
Offering fewer options, the possible answers to this question were that people had been using RISC OS since Acorn were around, between two and fifteen years, or fewer than two years. The results are as follows:
  • 88.30% (+4.27%) of people said they had been using RISC OS since the Acorn days.
  • 10.64% (-3.25%) said they had been using RISC OS for between two and fifteen years.
  • 1.06% (-1.02%)said they had been using it for fewer than two years.

By choice, do you use any platforms other than RISC OS?

The possible answers to this question were a straightforward yes or no - and 75.00% (-14.51%) of people said that, yes, they do use another platform, which is unsurprisingly high, and means a remarkable 25.00% (+14.51%) of people are still able to satisfy all of their computing needs on RISC OS alone.

If so, which operating system?

Pie chart showing which other platforms
                                     are used by RISC OS users
Breakdown of other platforms used by RISC OS users.
A follow-up to the previous question, this offered the most obvious three - Windows, MacOS and something Linux-based - as options, as well as an Other option for anything else. The three main systems were chosen because they are the most widely used in general, and therefore the most likely to be used alongside RISC OS systems. The results can be broken down as follows:
  • 56.41% (+3.08%) of people who use another platform as well as RISC OS use Windows.
  • 11.54% (-5.50%) of people use MacOS as well as RISC OS.
  • 25.64% (-0.29%) use a Linux-based OS as well as RISC OS.
  • 6.41% (+2.71%) of people use something else.

On what processor do you use that operating system?

Another follow-up question, three options were offered; ARM, Intel/AMD or Other. The results are that for an unsurprisingly high 91.02% (-0.09%) of people, that other platform runs on Intel/AMD processors, while for 5.13% (-1.54%) of people it runs on ARM processors - for example ChromeOS, Android, iOS or WindowsRT - and for 3.85% (+1.63%) it is something else.

And do you use it more than RISC OS?

Pie chart showing whether people use other
                                     platforms more or less than RISC OS.
Breakdown of whether are used more or less by RISC OS users.
The final follow-up question on the subject of other platforms offered three options; that people used another platform more than they used RISC OS, used them both about the same, or used RISC OS more than the other platform.

The results are that 40.79% (-0.39%) of people use another platform more than they use RISC OS, while 28.95% (+0.28%) of people use RISC OS and their other platform roughly equally, and 30.26% (+0.11%) use RISC OS more.

As computing technologies have moved on, people are able to do so much more on their computer systems than they would have been able to do in the past, and there can be no denying that RISC OS has lagged behind the rest of the world in this respect: There are things that can be done on other platforms that just aren't possible, or which are much less practical to do, on RISC OS.

These can be extremely processor intensive tasks, involving large files, such as video processing and editing - which in a modern world is likely to be high definition video, with file sizes that RISC OS would even be able to touch. Even something much less ambitious such as encoding music as MP3s, which RISC OS can do, is more efficiently done on more powerful, modern PCs.

It is therefore quite surprising that the percentage of people who use another platform more than they use RISC OS isn't higher - but, at the same time, it is quite encouraging that this isn't the case.

In which age range do you fall?

Pie chart showing the age range of typical
                                     RISC OS users.
Breakdown of the age range of RISC OS users.
There were six options for this question, covering people under 20, then each decade from the 20s to the 50s, and finally those who were 60 or over. The results are:
  • 0.00% (no change) of RISC OS users are aged below 20.
  • 1.05% (-5.20%) of RISC OS users are aged 20-29.
  • 16.84% (-0.52%) of RISC OS users are aged 30-39.
  • 23.16% (+1.63%) of RISC OS users are aged 40-49.
  • 12.63% (-3.34%) of RISC OS users are aged 50-59.
  • 46.32% (+7.43%) of RISC OS users are aged 60 or over.

Are you male or female?

And the final question in the survey asked whether people were male or female, with the results being that 96.81% (-2.49%) of those RISC OS users who answered are male, and 3.19% (+2.49%) are female.