Skip to content

Microsoft’s zombie apocalypse

Go to this URL, and click on the “click here to see how the iPad has changed the world in just three years” link that’s at the bottom of the text (sorry these guys don’t want to let me link directly to the slide stack);

Note slides 4 & 6 particularly. Note that “tablets” are expected to outsell “laptops” this year. See how quickly the “Wintel” model of operating system and hardware is falling off? This is a rapid change in fortunes for the Microsoft behemoth.

In 10 years, maybe less, Microsoft will be a bit player. Few people will use an MS operating system; certainly their sales of new operating systems will be insignificant. Mostly people will buy just business productivity apps off them (Office/Exchange).

Of course, they may improve their Surface experience and perhaps catch up to iOS and Android, but I think at this point, they will still be a bit-player in that market. Why do I think this? Because of their insistence on the Windows 8 “you only need one operating system” mindset. They seem heavily invested in. They may be able to break this decades-long allegiance to the great god Baal^H^H^H^H Windows, yes, possibly. But I don’t think they have realised their lunch is being eaten quite so quickly.

Just for the record, I also think that OSX sales will also be tiny in 10 years time. Only “people like us” (developers) and a small minority of “power users” will buy “computers” that aren’t tablets. There’ll still be servers, of course, but that market’s dominated and will still be dominated by flavours of Linux and VMWare running on IBM/HP style hardware platforms (with a small share to their proprietary OSes for existing high-end customers). Of course, Windows may still play in this space, for people with dot-net services. And it may be that’s how MS saves it’s bacon. But, that stuff just doesn’t have the revenues that Windows-to-consumers has; the alternatives are basically free (thus limiting price) and the volumes are relatively low.

And so, as a *dominant market force*, it’s already living on borrowed time, unless sometime in the next 12 or 18 months it gives up on the “one size fits all” approach and creates a SurfaceOS that really knocks people’s socks off. Do you think that’s in the Microsoft DNA? Not bloody likely. But my bet is that they won’t try, and even if they do, it will still be a horrible frankenstein’s monster (Ballmer’s monster)?

While I think that Android had some time to iterate over their touch phone and tablet interface until they got it right, I don’t think that Microsoft has that luxury. Android tablet makers have been learning as they go along, as has Apple. But they’ve been busy learning these lessons while their market share was relatively tiny. Microsoft has to catch up and overtake them — soon to be the market-leading portable computing platforms — more or less in two or three leaps; they’ve already expended one.

I really ought to make a more hard-core effort to learn Objective-C and the Apple APIs.