Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, July 16, 2021
What do lawyer cat and Windows 11 have in common?
Embarrassment or fear of humiliation may boost home PC sales. If that doesn’t do it, staying connected and current will encourage home PC users to upgrade.
If you missed it, the “lawyer cat” viral meme recently had its day of fame. A tech-challenged lawyer compelled to participate in a mid-pandemic judicial hearing over Zoom got confused and embarrassed by having his face appear as a cat’s. Webcam software bundled with an older Dell PC featured a filter that changed a person’s image before being displayed through Zoom.
The lawyer cat meme has a connection to the upcoming launch of Microsoft Windows 11. There could be the fear of something going wrong using older PCs, especially those with older bundled software.
The newest version of the venerable operating system will reportedly require more robust hardware than is present in much of the installed base. The final requirements are still in flux. However, Windows 11 is likely to need users to have newer home PCs than what they’re actively using today.
Age of the home PC installed base
For every tech-challenged lawyer in Texas, there are millions of others who might have a similar experience because they’re using an older home PC.
In the US, Germany, and the UK, one in five online adults uses a home PC acquired in 2014 or earlier. Nearly twice as many are using a home PC 6 or more years old – acquired in 2016 or earlier. Recent reports from Microsoft indicate that to use Windows 11 fully will require components that weren’t present on these older PCs. In particular, this includes the PC security feature TPM 2.0 (Trusted Platform Module). The year when a user acquired a PC is not an explicit cutoff of whether it will fully support Windows 11. However, it’s a safe bet that PCs from 2014 or before are unlikely to qualify.
Size of the home PC installed base
The number of adults using older home PCs is substantial. In the US alone, 50 million online adults use a home PC acquired in 2014 or before. In Japan, these number 31 million.
Average Home PC age by household size
In the US, UK, Germany, and Japan, larger households use newer home PCs than smaller households. It’s especially true in the US, where there is a full-year gap between adults in households with 1 or 2 persons compared to those with four or more. The home PC age gap is nearly as wide in the UK and Germany. In Japan, however, there is not much difference in home PCs age by household size.
Video calls & conferences on older home PCs
Are lawyer cats – or their copycats – rare? There are many people with home PCs they use for video calls and conferences. However, users do their video calls and meetings more using newer rather than older home PCs.
Employment roles and older PCs
Let’s not be too hard on lawyers. Who among us hasn’t had a mixup in a video meeting – if it’s not us, then maybe someone else on the call?
It’s not as if lawyers are using much older PCs than other professions. Fifteen percent of all employees in the US are using an older PC. Among legal counsel, this rate is 14%, effectively average. In the UK, legal counsel has precisely the national average – also 14%. This analysis includes the active use of any PC, whether owned personally, employer-provided, used in self-employment, or any other PC such as in a school, government office, or library.
The pandemic brought about many sudden changes, including more widespread reliance on communication using video calling and meetings. Many consumers and employees used whatever technology they had at hand, such as older home PCs. While many employers scrambled to arrange for or provide technology that would support remote work, many others did not and left employees to their own devices.
While the pandemic continues to rage on throughout the world, with the virus likely evolving to endemicity, consumers, employees, and employers continue to adapt. Digital transformation is in the middle, enabling communication, collaboration, and connection. That means we’ll continue to see more technology in use and many older PCs replaced with newer models.
With more than 40 years of PC history behind us, I think we can all agree that having a newer PC won’t instantly solve all potential users’ embarrassment. Humans find ways, innocently or creatively, to find unexpected ways to use their PCs.
If nothing else changes, let’s hope users of old Dell PCs can at least update their worried-cat filter to something more hopeful.
About this TUPdate
TUPdates feature analysis of current or essential technology topics. The research results showcase the TUP/Technology User Profile study, MetaFacts’ survey of a representative sample of online adults profiling the full market’s use of technology products and services. The current wave of TUP is TUP/Technology User Profile 2020, which is TUP’s 38th annual. TUPdates may also include results from previous waves of TUP.
Current subscribers may use the comprehensive TUP datasets to obtain even more results or tailor these results to fit their chosen segments, services, or products. As subscribers choose, they may use the TUP inquiry service, online interactive tools, or analysis previously published by MetaFacts.
On request, interested research professionals can receive complimentary updates through our periodic newsletter. These include MetaFAQs – brief answers to frequently asked questions about technology users – or TUPdates – analysis of current and essential technology industry topics. To subscribe, contact MetaFacts.