Essays on Technology and Culture

Inertia By Default

The truth of this was revealed to some Microsoft researchers, who in the early days of Microsoft Word asked lots of people to send them their configuration files. These were anonymous, because the researchers just wanted to find out what people actually preferred, so they could have those set as the defaults. To their amazement, they discovered that less than 5% had made any changes. At all. Even though there was a fantastically useful autosave feature but it was off by default. Why? Because a programmer inside Microsoft had set the configuration file to all zeroes for simplicity. And “zero” in the config file meant “no autosave”.

Why the default settings on your device should be right first time | Technology | The Observer

Changing settings for an application or a piece of hardware is a power user move. Just another example to add to the growing pile of proof that technology companies don’t understand how ordinary people use technology.