Friday, January 26, 2007

Microsoft Prediction

When Bill Gates announced his retirement from Microsoft in July, that, to my mind, marked the end of the "Microsoft Era." Microsoft has been losing ground in the world of personal computing (actually, in computing overall).

Microsoft isn't over, and won't be over for a long time. After all, COBOL, the 1950's era business programming language, is still very much in use. But, Microsoft's dominance is on its way out, to the point where it will be a choice to use Microsoft products, not a requirement. I see this being fully fleshed out by 2010 or 2011.

It is difficult to predict something like "market share" for the PC market. In this world of laptops, BlackBerries and iPhones, what is a PC? Currently, Microsoft has a commanding 95%+ share of the PC market. Does this mean that 95% of all people who have any computing device also has some PC running Windows? I have a BlackBerry, a PC, and an iPod. So, in my case, two out of the three computing devices I have are non-Microsoft. But, there is no doubt that my primary device is a PC.

Perhaps it is enough to say that by the end of 2011, the percentage of people who have Microsoft-based product as their main computing device will drop below 50%. I think that should this statistic occur, it will be obvious: Many businesses will have moved off Windows, people will be using their non-Windows mobile device for their main device (many use their BlackBerries that way now!), and homes will have either a Mac or a Tivo-like Linux device as their main unit.

Why do I think this? Because Bill Gates is Microsoft, and he is leaving. Also, the Microsoft vision of a PC in every home has been achieved. The new vision is "I can get whatever information I need (including entertainment) from my hand-held device."

Vista does not fit into this world. The iPhone does. So does Linux-based wireless kiosks cruising the web.