Trust in Computing Research: 1 : Computing and the Internet

As you may have read in the introduction Jeff Jones posted recently, we undertook the Trust in Computing Research after coming up with more questions than answers during a project called TwC Next which marked the milestone of 10 years of Microsoft Trustworthy Computing. The questions arose during interesting discussions about all of the computing and technology trends that society is currently experiencing and how they affect people’s trust in technology.

This is the first part in the ongoing series, specifically looking at questions we asked about Computing and the Internet use. You can read the full introduction here.

Note, where you see a number in brackets, i.e. [1] beside a section, the corresponding references and sources are listed at the end of the blog post.

Computing and the Internet, General Trends and Usage

Bill Gates predicted in 2002 that “computing would become an integral and indispensable part of almost everything that people do”. Today, as the population has grown to over 7 Billion people, the adoption of the Internet has increased even faster, now with more than a third of the worldwide population online.

[1] Worldwide Population and Worldwide Internet Usage Growth

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[2] Percentage of Worldwide Population Online

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The growth of the Internet has been especially high in locations such as China, Brazil and India. Throughout our survey locations, the growth of the Internet has been fueled by a number of factors such as economic development, technology availability and broadband or wireless penetration. It is important to note that many locations may be leapfrogging legacy technology such as dial-up and moving straight to mobile Internet services for example, helping to increase adoption at an even faster rate.

[3] Internet use growth in survey locations

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With the number of people going online increasing, it is interesting to understand the frequency at which people are going online. The survey results suggest that over 95 percent of respondents are using the Internet once or more each day. 

 

As a side note, when putting this survey together, it was recommended that we used the “Do not Use”, “Less than Once per Week”, “One or More Times a Week” and “One or More Times a Day” frequency categories. Based on our use and those around us, we added the higher frequency categories in case there was some interesting data.

[4] Internet Usage Frequency (worldwide average)

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When it comes to using the Internet for entertainment however, we start to see a different pattern of use. Still with over 80 percent of people using the Internet for entertainment at least once per day, but now with significantly fewer using the internet more than 10 times per day on average. We defined Entertainment as social networking, streaming video, using the Internet for non work related activities.

[5] Frequency of Internet Usage for Entertainment

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If we start to look at the types of devices people are using frequently for entertainment purposes, we can see that most people are primarily using personal computers. However, smartphones for personal use is the next highest category and tablets coming a distant fourth. In most cases today gaming consoles are used purely for entertainment purposes.

[6] Frequent Internet for Entertainment Users by Device

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Importance of Computing

During the survey, we asked about the relative importance of computing for personal and business use. The results were not all that surprising and relatively uniform across all of the locations and audiences.

[7] Importance of Computing for Personal Use

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Now that we have an idea that computing is important to the vast majority from a personal perspective, as the world’s businesses move online, how important is the Internet to businesses?

[8] Importance of the Internet to the Business

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We can see that the overwhelming majority of respondents view the Internet as very important to their business. However compared to the importance of computing for personal use, significantly more people consider the Internet on its own very important to their business.

Conclusions

In this first part of the series, we looked specifically at the general use of Computing and the Internet. While some of the findings are as we had anticipated, we found several unexpected results:

  • Over 95 percent of respondents worldwide are frequent [multiple times per day] Internet users.
  • Personal Computers are still the most widely used devices, with Smartphone use second.

In the next parts, we will be looking at more of an audience and location breakdown on the same questions.  Make sure you keep watching the Microsoft Security Blog: http://blogs.technet.com/security for further analysis.

 


Sources and references

[1] Sources: Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat, World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision, ITU World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators database

[2] Sources: Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat, World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision, ITU World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators database

[3] Sources: Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat, World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision, ITU World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators database

[4] Source: Trust in Computing Survey 2012, Q: How frequently do you use the Internet for computing tasks?

[5] Source: Trust in Computing Survey 2012, Q. How frequently do you use the Internet for entertainment?

[6] Source: Trust in Computing Survey 2012, Q. On average, how often, if at all, do you use the following devices?

[7] Source: Trust in Computing Survey 2012, Q. Overall, how important is computing to you, personally (non-work related)?

[8] Source: Trust in Computing Survey 2012, Q. How important is the Internet to your organization?