Chris J Powell

The Fate of Windows as a Platform

I was thumbing through my Zite App on my iPad and came across a statement by Ed Bott and a short article that provided some keen insight into the potential future of Microsoft and its Windows OS dominance on both our connected lives and the future of how we will access the interwebz!

As a Linux Fan and huge proponent of all things “Open Source” I first read this and thought….2011 will be the year of Desktop Linux!!!  Not so much.  The desktop / laptop future may well be determined by our collective move to the UMPCs (Ultra Mobile Personal Computer) in the form of ever smarter Smart Phones and Tablets but in looking at the statistics what is the future of sitting at my desk?

Data provided by > Net Market Share

Now I love my Android Phone and well yes I have pulled my Android Tablet out of its dock twice since getting my iPad so I love my iPad too so I am contributing to this statistic but I have not dramatically reduced my use of my desktop either…I just use the internet MORE!

In the Ed Bott article on ZDNet there was a great quote by Steve Ballmer “Six months ago, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was asked to pick Microsoft’s riskiest bet. He answered, “The next version of Windows.”

It would appear that Microsoft is betting the farm on Windows 8 and are hoping to regain the ground lost to its competitors both in the mobile space as well as in the traditional computing spaces of desktops and laptops.  With a move that bridges the gap between the computing experience of the desktop and the portability of phone/tablet Windows 8 is rumored to be making moves similar to Ubuntu’s Unity Interface that has created quite an stir of lovers and haters on the forums and blogs but in looking at the video produced by the Windows User Experience Team…this is a radical shift!

Now there is some interesting concepts here but how much integration can occur between what we have seen from the Windows Phone 7 clunky interface and our 20+ year love/hate relationship with the “task bar” and “start menu”.  I would say that if such a radical shift in the User Experience from Microsoft occurs it will be too much for the typical user (as for most users they are not interested in tweaking the interface and customizing anything beyond their desktop).

One more shot across the bow at Microsoft…I am thinking that the biggest single mistake that they made was keeping the company together when they were ordered to split the company in two back in June 2000 and they fought it and eventually won…wouldn’t life be easier if you had the OS on one side and the apps on the other???

The trend of a decline of Microsoft that started in 2008 is accelerating and if it maintains the current rates…could see them holding 50% share by 2020 but that rate has been moving at a sharper decline lately and if Windows 8 has a Vista Effect we could be seeing a much, much smaller Microsoft in the coming years.

Data provided by > Net Market Share

Now it is important to note that these charts by Ed Bott also elude to the decline in general of thick client OS that includes OSX and Linux not just Windows.  The dominance of our collective use of computers will depend on who gets the mix right that allows us to shift from Smart Phone to Tablet to Laptop to Desktop…so far Apple has a commanding lead with the iPad being the collective MUST HAVE gadget.

Can Android and WebOS or even MeeGo compete?  Can there be a unifying vision of what the future of computing will be that throws down the gauntlet to Redmond, WA and Cupterino, CA and says no more status quo?  I am hoping that great minds on the Isle of Man and a global development team does have a solution but only time will tell!

Thanks for stopping by.

Chris J Powell

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