Microsoft: A Past and Future

Lately it seems as though more and more people are switching to Mac based operating systems, Microsoft delays and cuts back on promising projects, and the GNU/Linux marketshare grows every day. No matter what, there is one factor that stands out, regardless of whether or not Microsoft’s product is better, and that is the simple fact that Microsoft is losing it’s marketshare as each day passes.

Microsoft is growing weaker day by day as the software giant shrinks in size, and this depression recession has not helped, whether we’re pulling out of it or not. Just three years ago, I remember that I never heard of people talking about switching from Windows, and those who did were laughed at; yet nowadays, it seems as though the Mac is the “next big thing,” and all of the gear heads (including myself) have switched to using GNU/Linux operating systems as their primary. Microsoft has been hit with too many anti-trust cases and accused of being a monopoly too many times, and although these are primarily in Europe, Microsoft is simply no longer the all powerful colossus it once was.

There are many prime examples of products replacing Microsoft’s own as they are superior, faster, and more and more often, free. Windows Media Player is one such product, as it is laughed at by GNU/Linux and Mac users as they tout their own applications such as Amarok (I myself am a proud user of 1.4), iTunes, Banshee, or even VLC if you’re not using it to manage a library. Internet Explorer is most likely the best example, as it was surpassed long ago by Opera, Safari, Firefox, and now Chrome (or Chromium), for which most modern tests use increments of IE’s speed to compare the competitive browsers’ speeds.

Even major applications such as Visual Studio and Microsoft Office are being overtaken by competitive applications and suites such as KDevelop and Code::Blocks for VS, and OpenOffice (OOo) or KOffice for Microsoft Office (this goes for almost everything, such as Microsoft Virtual PC, for which there is VMWare and VirtualBox). Even with this in consideration, Microsoft also tends to spend three or more years in between most major updates, whereas users of OOo, Code::Blocks, KDevelop, etc can expect to wait only about six months between major releases.

On top of increasing competition, Microsoft also has to deal with the fact that this competition is gradually taking Microsoft’s customers, and as such, profit. Microsoft is being forced to cut back as each product loses its battle, such as Microsoft Encarta, Microsoft Money and more. Even such projects like WinFS are also being canceled or held back left and right, which promise major improvements and a unique future for Windows.

What remains to be seen is how Microsoft can respond. Windows 7 is an excellent product and Microsoft is still kicking, I am not trying to say otherwise. Windows 7 has many excellent strong points such as WMP12, VHD booting, excellent hardware compatibility, a high level of security (for Windows), speed, and so forth. Windows 7 could very well slow down the progress of Apple and the FSF on the operating system front and maybe even turn the tide; nonetheless, as the Internet grows and cloud gets bigger, platform independence is inevitable. The cloud is the future, and products such as Windows, Mac OS X, and GNU/Linux distributions will eventually be left behind or just a shell of what they are now as the distinctive line between the cloud and the physical grows thinner and thinner.

Nevertheless, this is not a future to turn away from. The abandonment of Windows and other OSes is imminent, but the best choice. Instead of arguing over which platform is the best, we should stand shoulder to shoulder and look for the horizon and recognize that change is inescapable. The next generation of computing is impossible to prevent, so instead of succumbing to bias, keep an open mind and watch the next software war carefully.

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21 Responses to Microsoft: A Past and Future

  1. OMG June 20, 2009 at 1:46 am #

    What a ridiculous post. Open source and Mac are niche at best. The cloud will take many years to really take off and MS is one of the few likely to make gains during the recession. MS is the only option for most business. Anything else is just too much maintenance, too insecure, too hard for users to get their heads around and too costly when you factor in all the hidden costs. Do some homework before posting such rubbish.

    • Robert June 20, 2009 at 9:26 pm #

      Windows is a joke in serious programming environments such as Google, take a look at usage statistics. Almost all of the boxes from the developers building are running GNU/Linux boxes.

      GNU/Linux is much easier, much cheaper (free), and almost no maintenance. You simply set up a server (Apache preferred) and it will update automatically in the background forever.

  2. wut June 20, 2009 at 2:52 am #

    @OMG +1

  3. GMO June 20, 2009 at 2:52 am #

    Microsoft forever.

  4. Jon June 20, 2009 at 6:02 am #

    From the companies I’ve worked at, Microsoft still reigns supreme. The frequent updating of “OOo, Code::Blocks, KDevelop, etc” that you tout as something good would be an IT department’s nightmare.
    The widespread business usage of Microsoft’s products itself binds Microsoft’s hands when it comes to revising products with updates, revisions, etc. One could almost say that software that is popular because of [mostly] consumer or enthusiast markets benefits from the fact that they can release updates, fix mistakes, or change their image a lot quicker than a software company (Microsoft) that is bound to business/IT customers that require cradle-to-grave support for each piece of software they create.
    The simple fact that Microsoft must continually commit resources to a number of versions of software & OSes, and at the same time have their hands bound when it comes to pre-requisite IT user-acceptance-testing of any forthcoming update has gotta be a thorn in Microsoft’s side, no?

    • Robert June 20, 2009 at 9:28 pm #

      The problem with Microsoft is that each release of Windows is basically a new OS.

      The benefit of GNU/Linux is that almost all apps are backward compatible. You could take Ubuntu 5.04 (5+ years ago) and install every modern GNU/Linux application on it, and then they’d update forever in the background.

      I consider that much easier than Windows Server.

  5. Mustafa June 20, 2009 at 6:13 am #

    http://marketshare.hitslink.com/os-market-share.aspx?qprid=9

    Microsoft has lost about 4% of its market share, while Mac rose by 2% compared to the last 12 months.

    Mac is becoming popular these days. Now I find it in major shops (in Saudi Arabia), although a few years ago there was only Windows.

    Let’s just wait and see what happens after Windows 7 is released.

  6. Bob June 20, 2009 at 8:47 am #

    Ummm due to the recession people are buying Macs!? Are you kidding me? Macs cost more than buying a PC and a copy of Windows! It’s the Mac fanboys and Apple’s constant bashing of Microsoft that is causing people to change Operating Systems. People switching to linux because of the recession makes more sense. Though I doubt many are switching to linux for this reason as the learning curve isn’t exactly an easy one.

    • Robert June 20, 2009 at 9:28 pm #

      “due to the recession people are buying Macs”

      Never said that.

  7. Mike June 20, 2009 at 10:57 am #

    Well nothing lasts forever, either way you put it. Who knows what we’ll be using in the future and this has nothing to do with Mac’s and GNU/Linux.
    On one hand having the ablity to choose what you want to use is the key success to any market that is based on competition.
    It will make producers more responsive to the users needs and allways looking towards offering better solutions then what the compatitors have to offer.
    This isn’t a problem, it’s a healthy evolution.
    On the other hand there will allways be that type of users that got tired of a platform and want to try something different.
    The switch from Xp era to Vista was the perfect time for them, since they were already in the means of changing something they’ve been using for 5 or 6 years.
    It’s like watching the same TV channel day after day and then something else comes up which sounds good so why not give it a try.
    GNU/Linux offers freedom which many understand it with freeware in mind, though it’s not exactly the point. Nobody will be productive if they keep thinking like this.
    As a home user, you may be just satisfied with what you’re getting from the community and that’s it.
    You want a specific application then do it yourself or kindly wait for the comunity to understand its utility..
    Macs on the other hand are popular because not many of us have one. They bring the “out of the box” experience which doesn’t come cheap.
    Want to upgrade a Mac.. Tough luck finding compatible hardware that doesn’t have Apple’s signature on it.
    This doesn’t mean that if I’m a Mac user I will bash anyone that’s using Windows or GNU/Linux and so on…
    These are just tools we use and should be viewed accordingly. There is no such thing of a universal tool that does the job in every situation.

  8. eraser85 June 20, 2009 at 11:13 am #

    Instead of arguing over which platform is the best, we should stand shoulder to shoulder and look for the horizon and recognize that change is inescapable.

    – Do you hear that, Mr. Anderson? That is the sound of inevitability.

  9. Barry June 20, 2009 at 12:13 pm #

    Useless post, easily a Fanboi!

    VS 2008 team system is light years ahead of any other product on the market today. No other product allows the full IT department to interact so closely on a project.

    As for windows media and IE. Who cares, they are simply things to put on the OS so no one complains. I’m not an Microsoft lover, I do have a hackintosh running on an external drive, but if you think Windows is about to be gone then your mad, simply mad. Windows in the workplace works and is easy to develop on.

    • Robert June 20, 2009 at 9:30 pm #

      Then why does almost all top programming centers (such as those in Silicon Valley) use almost exclusively GNU/Linux?

      Because Windows is epic fail of programming.

  10. psyxonova June 20, 2009 at 12:27 pm #

    @Mustafa

    Net Applications data is at least doubtful since it takes into account mobile phones and other devices besides desktop computers and notebookes thus skewing the results.
    Wikipedia offers a much more reliable analysis that only counts *real* desktop operating systems and cites multiple sources (including NET applications)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_operating_systems

    According to Wikipedia Windows count for the 89.85% of desktop OSes, Mac for the 5.01 and Linux 1.12

    • Mustafa June 20, 2009 at 5:34 pm #

      Yeah… the Wikipedia is a more trusted source.
      Thanks!

    • Robert June 20, 2009 at 9:22 pm #

      That figure is extremely skewed. Read this article here for an understanding on why Wikipedia is problematic for understanding market share:

      http://itmanagement.earthweb.com/osrc/article.php/3818696/Linux-Desktop-Market-Share-Greater-Than-One-Percent.htm

      • psyxonova June 21, 2009 at 9:51 am #

        I’ve read the article carefully and I must admit that I agree with some of the points of the author. Still, the author doesn’t mentions wikipedia anywhere. The base of its arguments are the NetApplication figures and not Wikipedia. In fact the main point of the author is that NetApplications data comes solely from North America which he considers a “Windows-distorted environment” and suggests that when calculating market shares one must use sources outside North America which is exactly what Wikipedia does (AT Internet Usage data is from Europe).
        I am too skeptical about the quality of market share figures in general and share the author’s doubts, but until a better way is found to take into account usage from users around the world I consider Wikipedia the most trustworthy source. At least its numbers come from various sources which more or less neutralizes the bias of each one of them.

  11. Nomi92 June 20, 2009 at 2:10 pm #

    This article is true but i don’t think has any ground to it. While Microsoft has lost some of its market share it still has 90% of the market, that is still a big monopoly. The mac is slowly coming in but its only a small fraction of what microsoft has i only think the mac has become popular with the USA.

    Nomi92

  12. I'm a PC June 20, 2009 at 9:35 pm #

    How could you say this to Microsoft. Yes Microsoft has been a monopolist at one time but it’s not anymore. Besides every companies out there that has a marketshare +60 consider a monopoly don’t you think? Personally no operating system out there will replace my Windows PC, Office and other Microsoft products that I use daily. I don’t see the reaso why to switch to a alternative. For cloud computing it’s not very clear right now. Many companies including IBM, Amazon, and Microsoft are embrasing cloud computing but one thing that lacks from becoming mainstream is the amount of cloud based software that’s available right now.

    • Robert June 20, 2009 at 9:41 pm #

      Microsoft is about to be declared a trust in the EU. I think it’s safe to declare it a monopoly.

  13. smilingman June 21, 2009 at 4:36 am #

    I agree with most of what is stated here, especially with third party software becoming far better than MS own.
    MS should really focus on its OSes, office suite, SDK suites and security programs.
    IE, WMP and other programs should have the most basic features to functions and users should be able to turn them off if they use third party programs.
    This would cut bloat, improve performance and help end most of MS legal issue.
    Bring back Windows Plus CD with all the extras and add the full version as an update or allow then to be downloaded freely online.

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