Getting the Default Settings Right


Getting the Default Settings Right

Every piece of equipment you use comes with Default Settings, whether it is your phone, your desktop, tablet, or laptop. These Default Settings are considered very important, and said to be the best possible configuration settings provided by the programmers. But, is it really true?

At a time when Microsoft Word was new, its researchers conducted an anonymous survey to understand what configuration settings do their software product users prefer. The researchers hoped to use this data to compile the new default configuration settings for a future Microsoft Word version. However, the compiled results were quite shocking, as only 5% of the users had customized their Word settings; everyone else continued using the Default Settings. In spite of having an incredibly easy to use interface, and an open invitation to customize the default settings to suit one self, none of them had bothered to delve into the prospect. Another research conducted by Google revealed that 90% of their users have no idea about the most convenient and essential shortcut key ‘Ctrl + F’ which enables one to search text keywords across the document.

On one hand ‘Defaults’ can be the most easy to use, basic settings for a wide range of people, but on the other hand, they can be an effective profiting scheme. For instance, in 2007, New York City cabs were obligated to install card swiping machines in order to accept credit card payments. This initiation provided the passenger to confirm the payment via a touch-screen window at the end of the journey. However, apart from the confirmation, there was an additional ‘tip’ option, which provided default and custom options to pay a tip. The default options provided were 20%, 25%, and 30%. Even though there was a custom option available, where one could enter a figure of their preference, most passengers just used the defaults. This caused a surge in the average tip received by cab drivers from 10% to 22%.

Defaults are no way the best possible settings a system can provide. They can be considered as good average settings, comfortable for an average user. This average user can range from a geek who likes his machine to be super-fast, to an athlete who likes his machine to just do enough in the simplest way possible. They are called defaults for a reason. Defaults have immense power when it comes to monopoly. For example, Microsoft made Internet Explorer the default browser on all Microsoft machines, for which they were even taken to court by the judges in the US and Europe. Apple made Apple maps the default maps on their machines, and removed Google Maps, which caused Google to lose a lot of its users.

So, while many people change their default settings to match their preferences, when we look at the bigger picture and collate the data from users around the world, a major portion of the machine users never bother to modify or customize their configuration settings to suit themselves. It all comes down to how happy you are with the default settings, and how efficient is it in helping you get your tasks done. So, there’s no harm in using the system with default settings, and neither in customizing it.

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