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On The Way Out?

Entry 758, on 2008-04-29 at 21:22:47 (Rating 3, Computers)

The biggest problem I have working with computers is the compromises and frustrations necessary because of the dominance of Microsoft. As a Mac user, programmer and consultant it is particularly bad because there always seems to be some Microsoft program, file format, or server protocol I need to support (because of who the client works with, corporate policies, etc) where I would rather use something better. A couple of years ago I said that Microsoft had probably reached its peak and would start to decline. It now seems that everyone else is catching on to this possibility as well.

In the last few days I have seen several quite credible articles making quite alarming predictions about the inevitable decline of Microsoft. Yes, I know I've said all this before but this time the trend seems more clear so I really think this time Microsoft really is on the way out. I'm not saying they will be gone soon but their monopoly power will be broken, I hope.

So here's some of the articles...

In the New Zealand Herald, in a review of the new iMacs, Apple worldwide marketing VP, Philip Schiller, said Apple Mac sales are growing three and a half times faster than PC sales. OK, that's a comment from a Microsoft competitor but the facts support it so I think its credible.

On ZDNet, in an article titled "Microsoft’s elephant in the OS room: Apple" Microsoft's excuses for its recent poor performance are analysed and a more likely explanation - competition from Apple - is suggested. The sales figures for Apple are still a long way behind the PC makers' but they are heading in the right direction quickly!

In an NZ Herald article from Saturday Microsoft's poor financial performance is also analysed and Microsoft offer unrealistic explanations such as software piracy. The idea that competitors are taking market share from Microsoft doesn't seem to be something they are prepared to contemplate.

In an SDR podcast I heard a report from Business Week which claims Apple's latest OS upgrade (presumably Leopard) is a threat to Microsoft. They think corporates will now use Macs because they can run Windows programs using virtualisation and switch between the operating systems using Spaces. They predict the "assault" on Microsoft's dominance will begin in 2010.

The huge advantage Apple have is that Mac OS X is very scalable. They can run the same OS on the iPod Touch, iPhone, Apple laptops, iMacs, Mac Pros, and Xserves. It runs on PowerPC, Intel, and the specialised iPhone processor. The Vista kernel is over 1GB in size but some versions of Mac OS X are less than 1MB and don't get much bigger even for the most advanced applications. Its no wonder Apple can develop the OS so much more quickly and its no wonder it runs so much faster and is more stable.

In another SDR feature Gartner Group Analysts predict a bleak future for Windows. The language is quite serious: "the situation is untenable", "Windows is collapsing", and "Microsoft must make radical changes or become a has been." When was the last time you heard anyone talk this way about dominant companies? IBM maybe? Or Motorola? Yes, maybe Microsoft really is on the way out. I certainly hope so.


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