How good is good enough a computer for an elderly person? Though I'm a staunch
believer that playing computer games is one of the best ways to learn to use
a computer, and to develop the necessary hand/eye coordination necessary to
operate a mouse, it's a good guess that most older people aren't going to be
playing much Grand Theft Auto. They might want to play The Sims, or try their
hand at Myst, but when we're talking about games that old people might play,
chances are they're satisfied with Solitaire,
some sort of Tetris and maybe something in the PacMan tradition.
Not too many years ago the hand-me-down computer an elderly person might have received may have run on Windows 3.11, meaning that the user experience wasn't particularly inviting, and actually using the computer was more a chore than a pleasure. If that hand-me-down ran on Windows 95 or Windows 98, it was workable. The parents/grandparents could send and receive e-mail rather easily, and showing them what to do wasn't difficult because it was similar to what the children/grandchildren had at home. And after all, the children/grandchildren must have asked, how much are they really going to use it? This might be called the "good enough for folk music" approach, though I'm surprised that a Google search on that term seems to show that very few people use what I thought was a well recognized, and popular, phrase.
But somewhere along the line prices went down, and children/grandchildren realized that the user experience was important for their parents/grandparents, and they bought them newer computers and installed Windows XP. And it was here that a sort of boomerang effect took place. Now that the elderly had powerful, easy to use, computers, they actually started using them. Except that often the computer was too fast, there were too many ways of performing the same operation, causing more than just a little confusion, and the children/grandchildren probably started asking themselves whether it wouldn't have been wiser to simply give their parents/grandparents the no-longer wanted hand-me-down.