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Can Microsoft Survive If Windows Doesn't Dominate?

timothy posted about a year ago | from the plenty-of-companies-do dept.

Microsoft 497

Nerval's Lobster writes "In his latest Asymco blog post, analyst Horace Dediu suggested that Windows' share of the personal-computing market is declining at a faster rate than many believe, once Microsoft's cash cow is put in direct competition with Android, iOS, and other platforms built for tablets. In that context, Windows' share of the personal-computing market has dipped past 60 percent on its way to 50 percent. The big question is whether it'll keep plunging. 'If Windows tablets start growing as fast as the tablet market overall then Windows could stabilize in share,' Dediu wrote. 'But if Android and iOS tablets follow their phone brethren in growth then it will be far harder for Microsoft to maintain share.' Yet despite that gloomy scenario, Dediu doesn't necessarily see a market-share dip as a cause for concern on Microsoft's part: 'Even if Windows dips to only 20 [percent] of the world's computing market it will still be perfectly 'viable' for some time to come,' he wrote. But even if Windows can perpetuate, will its decline fatally undermine Microsoft as a company? All that Windows (and Office) money also allows Microsoft to launch projects that lose money for years before they gain traction. Without that monetary base, for example, it's possible that the Xbox (which bled money for the first few years of its existence) wouldn't have survived long enough to become a viable platform from a financial perspective—much less the center of Microsoft's future plans for living room domination."

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Yes they can (5, Insightful)

buy59 (2930821) | about a year ago | (#43905713)

Microsoft owns both gaming and workplace PC's. Nothing is going to take that from them. Tablets aren't meant to replace PC's, they're just too different kind of devices. Microsoft has nothing to worry about.

Re:Yes they can (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43905781)

There are developments picking up some Steam in the Linux world as far as gaming is concerned. You may very well see this trend shift in the future away from Microsoft and towards Linux, using open standards.

Re:Yes they can (2, Interesting)

buy59 (2930821) | about a year ago | (#43905865)

Mac OS X is much more likely candidate. Steam has worked on it for a few years already.

Re:Yes they can (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43905997)

There isn't a viable replacement. Mac OS X is tied to relatively limited, relatively expensive hardware. Linux isn't popular enough on the desktop so won't get the titles, even though I would pick Linux over the other two for many reasons.

I think there is a space for Steam to come out with its own free Linux-based "Steam OS". Do that and they might make Linux a viable choice.

Re:Yes they can (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43906163)

In the long run, the PC's share of the gaming market is only going to decline.

Of course, some games will always be superior on the PC. But as the "casuals" switch to mobile platforms and PCs start to lose the economies of scale, the games selection will narrow significantly over time.

For example, strategy/simulation/god games will work well on tablets after a couple Moore's Law cycles.

Re:Yes they can (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43906309)

PCs won't lose economy of scale if a PC-compatible console (like the Steam Box) is successful in the market.

Re:Yes they can (5, Insightful)

silviuc (676999) | about a year ago | (#43906291)

Linux does not have to be popular. It must have the software that enables people to 1) do their jobs 2) allow them to be entertained either through gaming or streaming content. Do you think the average Xbox user gives a shit about the OS that runs on the console? I do not. The only thing they care about is that it runs the games he/she likes and that streaming various content works. The same can potentially be done with Linux and users would not even be aware that it is in fact Linux on there.

os x just needs to remove the hardware locks and o (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#43906189)

os x just needs to remove the hardware locks and or have a $800-$1500 desktop system. With at least 1 X16 dual wide slot + X4 (X16 size), maybe X8 X8 in a X16 slot. as well. at least 2 HDD bays + 1 least one ODD bay, 4 or more ram slots, gig-e or faster. USB 3.0 as well. Maybe firewire or have a X1 firewire add in card.

Thunderbolt can be down with a on board video chip + add in video card in a X16 slot.

Re:Yes they can (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year ago | (#43906179)

Will the most Developments picking up Steam is Steam. There have been Linux Game companies before who failed, not that I am saying Steam will fail, but history doesn't look too good.

Linux still has a hardware compatibility problem, Sure it works fine for most Hardware but there is enough out there to cause greef. Just look back at Windows ME, and Vista. Their biggest problem was Hardware Compatibility causing the OS to become insecure. Linux on a large scale will create a lot of headaches, and people who use it on their non-Linux approved hardware will not like it at all.

Re:Yes they can (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year ago | (#43906275)

> There have been Linux Game companies before who failed,

10 years ago. A lot can change in 10 years. This article is proof of that.

A stable Linux, userland API, bad for MS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43906225)

If Valve makes a stable, single Linux and userland API, and it runs games, is there any reason it can't run other programs? Programs could theoretically be run on a $25 USB powered computer. If Valve pulls it off, Microsoft could be in a world of pain.

Re:Yes they can (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43905789)

I haven't worked in a dev shop that used windows PCs since 2008.

Re:Yes they can (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43905825)

That probably says more about you than about the world at bay.

Re:Yes they can (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43905925)

Did you mean "at large"?

Re:Yes they can (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43905953)

Did you mean anal?

Re:Yes they can (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43906019)

Regardless, Apple has a nice chunk of the "workstation" market that they didn't have 10 years ago.

Re:Yes they can (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43905851)

Especially if they port Office the the platforms that beat them in the market.

Server & Tools too... (5, Insightful)

mystikkman (1487801) | about a year ago | (#43905883)

Not to mention the Server & Tools Division that sells Windows Server, IIS, SQL Server,Lync Exchange, Visual Studio etc. keeps getting record revenue every quarter.

From http://venturebeat.com/2013/05/20/with-19b-in-revenue-microsofts-server-and-tools-chief-says-hes-just-getting-started-interview/ [venturebeat.com]

Meet Satya Nadella, president of Microsoft’s server and tools division, a division that builds and runs the company’s computing platforms, developer tools, and cloud services. Nadella leads a team of over 10,000 employees, and his group alone makes $19 billion in annual revenue – which is more than the combined revenues of Facebook, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Zynga, Netflix, and a few others in the Valley.

That doesn't even include Office and Azure recently became a one billion dollar business by itself. Microsoft is pretty well diversified, unlike Apple with it's reliance on iPhone and iPad and Google with 95% of revenue from ads. As usual, Asymco comes with shortsighted analysis that mistakes the trees for the forest.

That's why the people with their own money on the line are buying up MSFT (stock went from $27 to $35 due to the last earnings report) instead of the air-headed armchair analysis that we see on here of 'lol my grandma ditched her PC and got an iPad so that means M$ is dying'.

Re:Server & Tools too... (3, Insightful)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year ago | (#43905917)


Microsoft is literally doing better than ever financially. Ignorant tools are worried about market share percentages instead of market volume.

Parent has got it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43905973)

MS' strength is in the business environment. Hypothetically speaking, Windows tanks, MS will still do just fine with their business and solutions. And of course Office is the standard for office suites and that is still a cash cow.

And let's face it, if MS decided to move Visual Studio to other platforms, many of us would be on it like a sailor whose been out to sea for a year on a $2 hooker. Visual Studio for Linux, Android, Apple's OSes? Yes please!

Re:Parent has got it. (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#43906059)

Hypothetically speaking, Windows tanks, MS will still do just fine with their business and solutions.

...after they port them to Linux or Mac OS X? Because, hypothetically speaking, if Windows tanks, you won't have a system to run those installation packages.

Re:Parent has got it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43906297)

Visual studio could be updated to output binaries as rpms, apks, or what ever the hell else the compiler developers want. The CLR could also be ported if M$ really wanted (See Mono [mono-project.com] ) The point of .NET is to build MISL (Microsoft Intermediary Language) instead of direct code. As long as the OS can run the CLR a .NET program should work just fine. The only reason that M$ doesn't port VS to other OS's because they don't have to sell it and they really would rather you develop applications for their OS's on their OS's.

Re:Server & Tools too... (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year ago | (#43905981)

I would imagine the reason for this is because of MS's enterprise penetration. I don't see Microsoft leaving the enterprise any time soon. But I can see its consumer market shrinking considerably.

Re:Server & Tools too... (4, Insightful)

snadrus (930168) | about a year ago | (#43905987)

Sure, for a natural market, but lock-in is lock-out at low adoption rates:
- Office requires (works completely in) Windows, and hasn't been able to un-require it despite trying for years. Sure there's a Mac & Online mode, but they're behind.
- Lync, SQL, Exchange, IIS, Windows Server: Only Windows businesses care
- Visual Studio: (Mostly) only Windows businesses care.

Tie all those to a minor OS (instead of a dominant OS), and they won't be billion dollar businesses.

Re:Server & Tools too... (3, Interesting)

Gr8Apes (679165) | about a year ago | (#43906151)

You know - people say that about Office, and have been saying it for years. It doesn't make it any more true than saying it three times. I haven't used a MS Windows version of Office for at least 6 years, and yes, I do interact with Office for windows. You know the primary reason that Mac Office and OOO/LO are perfectly acceptable? Because the majority of MS Office users I deal with are still in the dark ages of Office 2003-2007. Even the minority who are somewhat current are only running 2010. Also, most of those users only use the basic functionality, which other office suites have little trouble with.

The rest has even less traction, approaching the irrelevant.

Re:Server & Tools too... (1)

Belial6 (794905) | about a year ago | (#43906285)

Also, most of those users only use the basic functionality,

That is the biggest thing. I know less than a hand full of people that need MS Office. That is mostly Excel. One of them would have a hard time without word (she could do it, but it would be a bit painful), and none of them need PowerPoint.

Re:Server & Tools too... (2)

CastrTroy (595695) | about a year ago | (#43905999)

Yeah, everybody seems to forget about a lot of the products that Microsoft creates. Sure they make a lot of money from Office and Windows, but they still make a lot of money from a lot of other stuff they sell. I really don't understand how anybody thinks there's a better IDE than Visual Studio. You can even use Visual Studio and .Net to develop apps for Android, iOS and Windows. I think that MS has the ability to do well, even if consumers stop buying windows PCs. Because they never made a lot of money off the home market anyway. They'll still continue to dominate in the business sector, which is where the real money is.

Microsoft is a whole lot bigger than Windows (1)

Daniel Oom (2826737) | about a year ago | (#43906071)

Few people know all of the products and services that the Microsoft empire creates. The trouble is that Office and Windows are the big money spinners. If the twin wells were to dry up, how will all the other losing propositions be financed?

Re:Server & Tools too... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43906197)

The whole point of this slashvertisement/submission is to draw clicks to the second link in the summary.

Re:Yes they can (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43905911)

They'd do just fine. In fact, I think they'd do better.

Windows is a good product. I mean, the windows ecosystem as a whole. XP and 7 are great. The server OSs are fantastic. Office and exchange are de-facto business standards.

If they had a bit more competition they might actually start listening to their customers a bit more. That way ever-other windows release won't be an unsellable pile of garbage. Vista had a business adoption rate of less than 9%. Windows 8, which is completely inappropriate for a business environment, will probably be even less. (Seriously. Metro is a UI fuckup, a security hazard, a manageability nightmare, and a completely legacy incompatable software layer that you cant' remove. Blamer should be fired for letting that slip. There is NOTHING about the metro UI that fits in to a business environment.)

Re:Yes they can (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43906031)

Microsoft has nothing to worry about.

Research in Motion thought the exact same thing, for the exact same reasons.

And now they're basically irrelevant.

Care for other examples because there are many.

Re:Yes they can (1)

QuietLagoon (813062) | about a year ago | (#43906055)

Enterprise computing is very profitable for Microsoft, not so much their gaming division.

That said...

Microsoft has everything to worry about,.

Unless and until Mr. Ballmer is removed from CEO, Microsoft will never know how to compete in a profitable manner without having the benefit of a dominant, monopolistic marketshare to leverage.

Short run versus long run (4, Interesting)

sjbe (173966) | about a year ago | (#43906083)

Microsoft owns both gaming and workplace PC's. Nothing is going to take that from them.

In the short run you are quite correct. In the long run though the picture is far less clear. Microsoft has viable competitors in gaming both in hardware and software which they have been unable to drive from the market. While not likely, it's hardly inconceivable they could lose their grip on the gaming market in time. The biggest source of Microsoft's dominance in the work place isn't Windows, it is Office. Specifically the Office file formats (.xls and .doc especially) are the main source of their dominance. That isn't going to change in the near future but history shows that office product dominance doesn't always last. Wordperfect, Lotus 1-2-3, etc used to rule the office and eventually they were pushed out of the way. There are some very real threats to the Office monopoly (Openoffice, Google docs, etc) out there. Whether any of them will eventually push Office out of the way I honestly cannot predict but it isn't impossible in the long run.

Tablets aren't meant to replace PC's, they're just too different kind of devices,

You forgot the key word "yet". No, tablets don't compete directly with PCs now but in time they unquestionably will. Remember that PCs didn't compete directly with mainframes back in the day either but eventually they did. There is no fundamental reason a tablet couldn't be put in a dock and used as an office computer and in time the probably will be. A tablet is just a general purpose computer which focuses on a touch interface rather than a keyboard/mouse interface. I think it is only a matter of time before someone figures out how to adapt them for office work.

I would love the ability to plug my phone into a dock at my office (possibly with some extra processing horsepower/storage and connection to the office phone system) and have it be my work PC as well. Think something along the lines of a Mac version of OSX when docked and IOS when undocked. Done well that would be hugely useful.

Re:Short run versus long run (1)

Belial6 (794905) | about a year ago | (#43906335)

Agreed. Tablets and PCs are fundamentally the same thing. The differentiator is basically just a question of accessories and software choice.

Re:Yes they can (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43906137)

Explain how an iPad or Android tablet with a bluetooth keyboard is functionally different than a laptop running Windows?

Re:Yes they can (2)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year ago | (#43906141)

Tablets are good at replacing, the average Consumer PC. And they should, PC's for well over a decade now have been more powerful than what average web user needs. However the PC will still be around, when people say the Death of the PC, it will be the Death of the Idea that you will need a PC to function in society, that is becoming less true. However you will still Need PC's for Software Development, CAD, Research, etc... For real work. Just because you need the extra horsepower to get the work done. As well Microsoft still is strong in the server arena (For reasons unknown to me).

However Microsoft will need to shrink or at least change. Windows+Office use to be Microsoft Cash Cow, which allowed them to produce a bunch of dismal failures, to get a few good other products out. Without Windows+Office Microsoft will need to adapt away from the Consumer market and more to the Business market.

Re:Yes they can (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43906155)

While the tablet will not replace the desktop PC, it will eventually replace the laptop. Microsoft is already pushing for this with the Surface Pro. The fact that you can easily attach a keyboard to a tablet and run every type of program typically run on a business laptop makes the tablet a viable option. Just add projector support (VGA out is a must) and most salespeople in our company would prefer a tablet with it lighter weight and better durability. (Except the Toughbook line.) Now the tablet won't replace the "Desktop Replacement" laptop anytime soon, but the line is getting blurred there as most high end laptops now come with touchscreens.

Re:Yes they can (1)

X.25 (255792) | about a year ago | (#43906217)

Microsoft owns both gaming and workplace PC's. Nothing is going to take that from them. Tablets aren't meant to replace PC's, they're just too different kind of devices. Microsoft has nothing to worry about.

Number of Macs in 'workplace' has increased dramatically. Windows based PCs are not the only 'choice' for small/medium sized companies anymore. Enterprises still, of course, have to run Windows. For how long, we'll see.

And when it comes to gaming PCs - you are just being funny.

Re:Yes they can (1)

silviuc (676999) | about a year ago | (#43906247)

They may have the King's share of gaming PCs now but they really want people using their consoles because they also get a cut of the (digital) sales also they would very much like for people to give up their PCs and use tablets and Office 365. Cloud! Cloud! Cloud! you can't have enough of it...

Not to worry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43905723)

What else would businesses run?

Re:Not to worry (3, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | about a year ago | (#43905869)

Businesses have been flirting with Linux desktops for a decade. Another decade and they'll work up the nerve to ask for a date. They're like nerds that way.

Wine (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#43905871)

What else would businesses run?


Should Microsoft's market share decline, developers of applications for businesses that want to sell to businesses running GNU/Linux or Mac OS X will port the applications to GNU/Linux or Mac OS X. This could involve making Wine a supported variant of the Windows platform alongside Windows, just as they supported Windows 98 and Windows NT/2000/XP in parallel.

Re:Wine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43906221)

Wine sucks for business applications and nobody's going to want to recertify their shit for a new environment. Instead they'll just virtualize their "legacy Windows" apps and run them forever on some terminal server.

Re:Not to worry (1)

LordThyGod (1465887) | about a year ago | (#43906139)

What else would businesses run?

Uh, Android, Apple, or anything with a web browser. SaaS, Cloud, etc. Not to say that works for every use case, but every use case used to be a windows pc. Plenty of work environments are using tablets (ipads) now as either replacements for pc's or supplements to them, making the pc less important. And the whole point of the article is that the demotion of the ms based pc is a pretty significant trend. Does MS go away completely? Of course not. Are they earning significant less than they would have if things were going their way? Surely. Are they the dominant player across the board that they once were?

Re:Not to worry (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43906235)

Anything. It really depends on the business. Either the application that your business needs is available or not. If it is, then you're free to use whatever works best. If it's only available on Windows, then you're going to run Windows.

If your railroad rails are held to ties with tiny hard-disk screws, then a screwdriver is the right tool for the job. If your your aluminum aircraft is held together with railroad spikes, then a sledgehammer is the right tool for the job. Don't argue, just get by and hope whoever made the silly decision gets replaced some day.

I think some people think that included within the applications needed by a business, are Word and Excel. That is definitely not true, for many businesses. (I was going to say 90%+ but I'm not really sure about that.) You can get a word processor and spreadsheet on pretty much any OS. So it's just a question of whether or not your particular business is one of those who is required to be able to read (or write!!) the proprietary format of these applications' documents when interacting with others. If you just use your word processor as a word processor, then Windows is irrelevant. If you use your word processor as a document conversion tool, practically as though it were part of your email system, then Windows is necessary. But theoretically, groups of people could share a Windows machine (or VM) for that. Do your work at your real computer, then send the file over to the Windows machine to be converted to Word before you email it along to some other company that has to do that same thing. ;-) Sounds like a pain in the ass but it's theoretically doable.

FWIW, I've found that LibreOffice does an ok job of usually reading MS-proprietary documents, and you can send standard formatted documents to Windows users without the noticing or caring that you did it their way. The other company's users never realize they're looking at RTFs rather than a DOCX. But in some cases you might need to ask someone to resend their troublesome document in a standard format, so there can be delays and humans-doing-things. LibreOffice isn't completely trouble-free in the "read" case. That was the big surprise: write is easier than read, because no one really needs to be able to write Word format.

dumb question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43905737)

I thought Office was the majority of MS's revenue.

Re:dumb question (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#43905779)

And how well does office run on tablets/touch devices like microsoft is pushing? And what if native windows/.NET isn't a commercially viable target for consumer applications? How well will Visual Studio sell then?

Surface: The tablet that runs Office (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#43905881)

And how well does office run on tablets/touch devices like microsoft is pushing?

That depends on how the public reacts to Microsoft's new "Surface: The tablet that runs Office" ad campaign.

Re:Surface: The tablet that runs Office (3, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year ago | (#43905919)

The public seem to be reacting by buying lots of Nexus 7s.

Re:Surface: The tablet that runs Office (1)

recoiledsnake (879048) | about a year ago | (#43906319)

Really, where are the numbers? Why is Google hiding the real numbers just like they do for the badly selling Chromebooks? They do release numbers(see Android activations) if they are good, so they must be bad. Even Microsoft has come

Re:Surface: The tablet that runs Office (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | about a year ago | (#43906171)

I predict they'll react the same way they did to MS's last Surface ad campaign: what? oh look at the shiny iPad / Android device.

Re:dumb question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43906273)

Office works perfectly fine on the elite pad 900, surface, and the lenovo tablet 2 that I've tested. I see no problems with office on MS tablets. They have ported office over to OSX for years, the only reason I could see them not pushing for office on other devices is because they already have office 365 that will work on any stock browser I've tested on android, or iOS.

It would be awesome if MS would port over Visual Studio to be used on other platforms. VS on my linux desktop would be excellent, as much as I like some of the Linux development tools VS still is my favorite. I think MS would have to basically abandon ship on windows before that happened though. While their market share is shrinking it's not anywhere near a point where they will dump it. I suspect it will drop and stabilize at a certain point at least for the time being. If they can get their OS on the next hot device and be out the door quickly on it, that could increase sales in all markets(phone, tablets, PC)

Different targets. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43905743)

There are tablets, and then there are...PC!

You can't compete with free (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43905763)

Windows will not succeed in the tablet space because of its barrier to entry. Users will look at it and see that not only will they incur an additional cost, they are paying for less features than an Android device.

iPad also has a barrier to entry (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#43905903)

Anonymous Coward wrote:

Windows will not succeed in the tablet space because of its barrier to entry. Users will look at it and see that not only will they incur an additional cost

Windows RT has "an additional cost". The iPad also has "an additional cost", yet it succeeded. Could you explain the difference?

Re:iPad also has a barrier to entry (1)

BlackSnake112 (912158) | about a year ago | (#43906045)

I am dealing with a windows RT Tablet user (parents) now. The hardest part is getting used to the interface. For their use, email, web surfing, a few other apps it is fine. Printing to the wireless printer in the house was a snap to set up. The biggest issue was getting email going. Windows RT mail does not work with POP email accounts. They had a pop email account. I needed to link their ISP email to an outlook.com email account. Then link the outlook.com account to the RT mail app. I wanted them to use gmail they said no. t is working fine now.

Honestly the windows RT table works fine. I like having more inputs. The model they have has a laptop keyboard that attaches. With the two pieces together the table is like a touchscreen netbook. Also with the keyboard attached more ports (USB, full size HDMI) are added. If you have crappy wireless, you will hate it. The tablet needs to be online to get everything.

They wanted one to connect to their local library to check out books. The library people said the ipad works but the app is clunky on it. The android and windows version works better.

There is just one example. Your mileage may vary.

Re:iPad also has a barrier to entry (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year ago | (#43906145)

Windows RT mail does not work with POP email accounts.

Are you serious? Please tell me it at east supports IMAP.

Patent lawsuits (-1, Troll)

walterbyrd (182728) | about a year ago | (#43905983)

All msft has to do is sue their competitors out of business. This has been msft's strategy for years.

Part of their strategy. The other part is to have everybody vendor-locked with msft's proprietary formats.

Bad Comparison (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43905777)

Trying to compare Microsoft solutions to Android and IOS is just stupid.

And if you don't believe me, then walk through any corporate office and see how many desktops have been replaced with tablets.

Yeah, I thought so.

Not to mention ergo issues surrounding "gorilla arm" and extended tablet use...that alone will likely make corporations avoid it like the plague. Liability is a bitch.

Re:Bad Comparison (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about a year ago | (#43906035)

Take a non-creative office drone. These days a huge percentage of their job will just be putting some information in some web-based application. The rest of the time will be doing something involving Microsoft office.

Now, assuming that it's not a shitty web ap that need IE 5 to run (big assumption, mind you) all you need is Microsoft Office and then the Android desktop becomes viable for your employees that aren't actually doing heavy work.

If Microsoft ports Office to Android they slit their own throats.

Re:Bad Comparison (1)

vawwyakr (1992390) | about a year ago | (#43906303)

Well for android with hdmi out and a keyboard and mouse it can become a device that is in many ways both a desktop and tablet.

Define "Survive" (1)

mholve (1101) | about a year ago | (#43905791)

They're not doing so well on the other fronts either. I think Ballmer needs to go - if Microsoft is to survive. ;)

Hummm.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43905813)

No. People are changing their way of working and getting around the need for windows. I for example: I carry a small 7" tablet and have a handy keyboard. Any note I have to take I do with springpad or evernote. If I need to take some quick logic notes, organize it as a mind map and that's it.

Of course, when I need to do an official document I just get the notes (all tagged, etc), synchronize with Windows app, copy'n'paste and with bit of work it's done. More and more I do less with windows and office. For simple documents I've started doing them in drive and then sharing them. Spreadsheets I do it as well (it does take a bit more work). And I never, ever, though I would get along with a tablet. For me a tablet was simply a toy, a way to browse the web and play games. One of these days I'll find that everything I need to work is an internet connection and something like a chromebook, where everything I do with the tablet I can fetch with that, or not even an internet connection, just sync the docs in the tablet to the laptop. Who knows? All I know is that I'm taking a road I never though I would.

Windows will always have a place... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43905841)

in the hearts of people that like to play video games on the PC.

Of course, if Microsoft fails in the desktop PC market, they still have the XBox market, which isn't too shabby. It competed well enough against the PS3 and PS2 back in the day. (Even if the 360 never did seem to have proper HDMI support...and couldn't play blu ray movies...and had a difficult time playing mp4 movies...and some games were presumably lower resolution than PS3 versions because they were stored on a DVD instead of a high storage capacity medium...and Obama's birth certificate is fake, and he was born in Kenya...the only reason they let him be president is because he is a sympathizer of the political party that created the Ku Klux Klan...just like the Jews that helped the Nazis kill Jews...)

Yes. They have money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43905859)

Of course they can survive. They can decide they want to make the Xbox touch-screen only and still have cash in the bank. It will take many years, of year-on-year Windows 8 style decisions for Microsoft to fall. Even then, they will see the end coming a long way off and be able to steer away from the edge.

Re:Yes. They have money (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | about a year ago | (#43906301)

They may have the money, but at some point the shareholders will do something. That "something" is undefined, but could effectively destroy MS in an instant, metaphorically speaking. Apple has double MS's bank account, Google is only a little behind MS. Both of them own huge shares of the high growth areas of devices. Apple also owns an increasing share of MS's core business, nearing 10% marketshare with PCs alone. Even with that pile of cash, MS has failed multiple times in attempting to gain a notable foothold in something other than software. Even the XBox hasn't been that successful, and I'm not sure it's actually all that profitable. Beating the PS3 is not all that noteworthy. In fact, Sony might be a forewarning for what can happen to MS in a few short years. They had a stockpile of cash and attempted to bash their way into a number of markets while making some major PR missteps (root kits on CDs, removing the alt OS on their PS3s, etc) and currently they're bleeding cash and are a shell of their former selves even 6 years ago. Time will tell.

Eh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43905875)

Microsoft has always been huge in two markets: Gaming and Business.
Gaming is slowly moving to be more supportive across multiple platforms, so their dominance there is waning.
As for business, because many companies are looking to cut corners everywhere they can, cutting Microsoft license agreements is under review.
Windows is not cheap, especially for businesses. And while I think this will take much longer to adapt than the gaming sector, if at all, I'd say there's a solid chance.
Because again, it's all about the money. If businesses can go cheaper while still not losing too much productivity, they're going to.

If Windows doesn't survive... (1)

gatkinso (15975) | about a year ago | (#43905877)

What is stopping MS from creating an Android and/or Linux distro? Their own phone (running Android)? XBox seems to be doing well - we'll see how XBox One does.

Mice. Keyboards. Legacy support for Windows.

MS has lot's of life in them yet.

Microsoft would lose a lot of patent royalties (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#43906065)

Most of Android is under the Apache License [apache.org] . If Microsoft customizes Android for its own hardware and distributes it, Microsoft becomes a "Contributor", and a Contributor gives up some power to assert its patents against other distributors of the software.

Re:If Windows doesn't survive... (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#43906077)

What is stopping MS from creating an Android and/or Linux distro?

Their own pride, and probably corporate policy which says "all things must be Windows".

If Microsoft announced next week they were doing an Android or a Linux distro, their stock would probably tank because that would be interpreted as basically saying "we're losing the fight, so we're looking into other things".

I agree that Microsoft is far from dead, and are likely sitting on huge cash reserves. But I don't see Linux and Android as a way forward for them.

They'd do a better job of actually listening to what people want out of their products, instead of just releasing a much hated Win 8 only to have to reverse course with the changes in Win 8.1.

Me, I'll be curious to see how they fare with the next XBox -- because I suspect lots of people are reading these press releases and thinking "gee, that doesn't sound like what I want".

Margins (1)

sjbe (173966) | about a year ago | (#43906143)

What is stopping MS from creating an Android and/or Linux distro?

Margins. It would be quite impossible for MS to create a differentiated product from Android and/or linux. Basically they would be at Google's mercy at that point. If MS were to ever do what you suggest it would be as a MUCH smaller company, probably post bankruptcy or buyout. There would be little value in yet another Android/linux distro from MS.

MS has lot's of life in them yet

No question. I can't conceive of any scenario whereby MS isn't a huge player for at least the next 10 years. There are some serious threats to them out there but their installed base will carry them at least that far. Beyond that who can really say?

Losing share may save Microsoft (5, Insightful)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | about a year ago | (#43905909)

A real challenge to the Microsoft hegemony would squeeze out the idiocy and arrogance that currently dominates the company. Forced to pay attention to users and developers, Microsoft would never have created a disaster like windows 8, or the developer-hostile policy of allowing languages and platforms to "dead end."

Heck, someone at Microsoft might actually wake up and figure out that the policies and strategies that benefit Microsoft in the long run are those that benefit users and developers, not the marketing department, or upper management bonuses.

I joke. I joke. Of course this will never happen.

Re:Losing share may save Microsoft (1)

Shados (741919) | about a year ago | (#43906051)

On top of what you said, not having a "monopoly" status and eventually being able to properly integrate/bundle stuff without the euro fining them over and over will help them be more competitive. Having to compete with companies that can make 1 stop shop solutions, while doing the same gets you fined for countless millions every time, is.... "tricky". Sure, they deserved it, but once they're done paying for past mistakes, they can finally go back to being on par.

I think... (2, Funny)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year ago | (#43905921)

Microsoft makes more money on Xbox & business licensing than in the consumer market.

Consumer MS has been declining for a while now.

Doesn't stop some dumbass author from writing an article, or an editor who can't distinguishing between Windows desktop OS and Windows Server, from "predicting"/praying for the death of Microsoft via their lynx browsers.

Well, there's your problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43905937)

analyst Horace Dediu suggested that Windows' share of the personal-computing market is declining at a faster rate than many believe, once Microsoft's cash cow is put in direct competition with Android, iOS, and other platforms built for tablets.

So... by comparing apples to oranges, we can conclusively prove that pears are the superior fruit?

PCs are PCs, they are not tablets. You may as well compare the iPhone to the iPad and use that as proof that the iPad is one of the least popular phones in existence. Well, no shit.

I can't wait for the next analyst report, the one that proves that Apple and Microsoft are about to go bankrupt because Linux has superior market penetration when you include televisions, DVD players and other such devices as well as computers. Christ.

Windows is being redefined (1)

atom1c (2868995) | about a year ago | (#43905947)

By reapplying the term "Operating System" to include on-premise and in-cloud environments, Microsoft is redefining Windows to simply become an operating environment -- we all know this, but they're making their direction rather crystal.

This redefinition actually increases the potential of the Windows brand and Microsoft is currently assuring its long-term survival by calling their hosted platform as Windows Azure. By running their Office, Xbox, Server, and Development tools in their Azure cloud, they are helping organizations still exploit the benefits of any Microsoft investment without necessarily being locked into the hassles of device-specific nuances.

If I were starting a business today, I would probably go with the Office 365 offerings (which run on Azure) and develop against their tools Services. Then, I would simply BYOD to become my computational gateway -- be it an Android, iPad, Berry, or Win8/WinPhone8. Ostensibly, the UI is programmed in HTML5 (with localStorage), the data-sync occurs via APIs, and the business rules engine (BizTalk) is as sophisticated as my business actually needs.

But can MS *dominate* the market? (2, Interesting)

walterbyrd (182728) | about a year ago | (#43905961)

Of course msft can survive.

But, can msft continue to dominate the industry the way they do today? Can msft continue to vendor lock everybody? Can msft continue to force so-called "upgrades?" Can msft enforce their proprietary documents format?

Sure msft can survive, but will they be anything like the msft of today?

Re:But can MS *dominate* the market? (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | about a year ago | (#43906177)

Heck, they're not even the MS of 2010, or 2007, or 2003 for that matter....

Can they use the linux kernel ? (1)

giampy (592646) | about a year ago | (#43906033)

Sometimes i wonder whether we might come to a point, like 10-15 years from now, where it might make more economical sense for MS to just rely on the Linux kernel (perhaps contributing just some resources to it, the way that other companies do) instead of having to develop and maintain their own. That could free up resources to do other things, and potentially help to gain some share in the mobile device market, where it looks like NT-based kernels might never be as efficient as Android or Macs.

Re:Can they use the linux kernel ? (1)

Kingkaid (2751527) | about a year ago | (#43906183)

Releasing control will never happen. That control is what gives them their edge. Look at what happened with webkit, both Apple and Google took it separately and split the product so that they could each have control over it. In addition, keeping the kernel internal has let them get away with Windows 8. Under the hood Microsoft has been very clever and is aligning all of their devices to one central kernel. This will let them have their future devices all talk to each other with ease and allow them better market share. There is a reason why they are becoming a devices and services company.

Re:Can they use the linux kernel ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43906223)

Android is an OS that leverages the Linux Kernel. Android is not Linux. There is this notion that the Linux community wants to spread that anyone who borrows the kernel is just another Linux distro. Android has it's own VM, it's own system libraries, etc. It runs a java language for apps that is not common to Linux.

The worst part is that Google is enjoying this confusion as a big benefit. They are closing the doors on the garden with Android, yet many Linux fanatics are comfortable entering to have tea with Brin.

Trending away from Microsoft (1)

DMJC (682799) | about a year ago | (#43906039)

Long term the trend is going to be to move away from Microsoft. Businesses just aren't there yet. But if I can sell my bosses on dropping in Samba 4 instead of AD Domain controllers, and we no longer use Exchange for communication because we've chenged to web based mail. Microsoft's days as a major driver in business are numbered. People talk about support and Microsoft and how they're amazing, but the reality is Microsoft doesn't support businesses with Windows deployments. Only third party vendors really provide support for Microsoft Products. Microsoft themselves are heinously expensive to get paid support from. $50+ per phone call outside of their licensing division. I see the future for Microsoft as being a slow downward spiral especially if they can't make a credible alternative to windows 8. They should split the product line into Windows Tablet and Windows Desktop. Their attempts at product diversification obviously haven't worked. They should try to spin off their diversification efforts into seperately managed companies that don't report to Microsoft's management chain directly. The management within Microsoft is horribly broken and unable to adapt to the rapidly changing market and needs to be sidestepped completely.

Re:Trending away from Microsoft (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year ago | (#43906119)

Samba 4 has a ways to go before it can replace AD. Believe me, I'd love nothing better than a drop in replacement for Windows Server, but I think Samba has at least another three or four years before it reaches that point.

Re:Trending away from Microsoft (2)

David_Hart (1184661) | about a year ago | (#43906317)

Samba 4 has a ways to go before it can replace AD. Believe me, I'd love nothing better than a drop in replacement for Windows Server, but I think Samba has at least another three or four years before it reaches that point.

Web based mail is great until you don't have access to it due to an outage, etc. At least with Exchange and outlook you have an off-line copy to work from.

Also, if you think that Email is THE killer app for Exchange, think again. THE killer app for Exchange is Scheduling (both people and resources) and I have yet to see any other product do it as well.

MS Lync is also a nice little add-on as you can see if the email recipient, assuming it is someone internal, is online and can IM them instead. It makes communication much easier.

While Webmail may work for small organizations, large organizations are going to stick with Exchange for a while yet.

Re:Trending away from Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43906313)

I've always wondered why no one ever calls MS for support. I'm an advocate of Linux, so I don't mind doing my own research. Generally, I find the answers on the internet regarding Linux to be very good.

MS on the other hand... not so good. Most sites that attempt to help you with Windows problems are a mish-mash of hacks who suggest you open something up and in Office (or some other MS product) and save it with no though of how this could apply to repeatable process. The only thing worse than the amateur sites is the MS site itself. Maybe it's easier for someone who like MS products, but I find their site to be difficult to work with. More often than not, I end up reading articles that are for the wrong version of what I'm trying to work with.

So, when someone says that Windows won't run their favorite program anymore, I tell them call Microsoft. They never do. Never. Ever. It's a weird codependency thing I guess.

Tip for MS: Don't alienate your core markets! (4, Interesting)

ErichTheRed (39327) | about a year ago | (#43906043)

In my opinion, the whole "PCs are dying, everyone will be on tablets and in the cloud by 2017" meme is a little overhyped. It's true that PCs are no longer the only computing devices available, and tablets are definitely getting good enough to replace PCs for most "read only" tasks. However, even with suitable Bluetooth keyboards and other accessories, creating documents and content on a tablet is still very difficult. I'm sure it will continue to be this way until some new UI paradigm pops up like 100% fluent voice recognition, wildly gesturing to type, etc. For writing software, messing with spreadsheets and even playing high end games, PCs still have a place. It's just not 99% of the market anymore. A good example of this is the Surface. It's amazing to have almost a full fledged PC in a tablet form factor and lets you build some really cool applications that the previous Tablet PC form factor didn't address well. But I wouldn't use it to write anything longer than an SMS, tweet or quick email...it's just not built for huge gorilla hands. :-) On the other hand, it's great for watching movies, surfing the web, and other Millenial-approved social media tasks.

Microsoft seems to have missed this fact with Windows 8, probably because they were panicked about Apple and Android dominating the tablet market. Or their marketing department came in and said "zomg Millenials and hipsters are chooing a tablet-first approach to computing, we must capture this market." And that makes sense -- people of a certain age have been raised with Facebook and smartphones, so they're used to it. However, they also have jobs, and probably use PCs and laptops at these jobs to create content. Windows 8.1 appears to be backtracking on their tablet bet a little bit, but not totally -- the Metro "app" ecosystem is here to stay. (As a side note, my primary complaint with Windows 8 was not the Start screen, though it's nice they're bringing the button back -- it was the awful 2-D Windows 2.0 user interface, and it looks like they're not bringing back Aero in Win8.1, so that sucks.)

Microsoft will continue to have decent market share in workplaces. Desktop PCs will most likely fade out as laptops get more powerful, but the idea that the tablet form factor works for every situation is crazy. Even when hardware begins shipping with touch screens by default, some people will prefer not to use them. Windows Server 2012 (and Windows 8 under the hood) are actually very good products. But they do need to listen to corporate customers. How hard would it have been to bring back the classic Start menu for companies who are deploying on desktops and laptops? Why wouldn't you allow your customers who were happy with Windows 7 to keep most of what they liked while having the option to use the new stuff? In my mind, not listening to corporations who buy millions of licenses will make them less relevant, not the rise of the tablet.

The way of IBM or the way of DEC . . . (4, Interesting)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about a year ago | (#43906081)

In the early '90s, everyone said that IBM couldn't survive. Look where they are now.

In the late 80's, everyone said that DEC would crush IBM. Look what happened to them.

So I guess it could go either way:

Megasoft Business Services . . . ?

. . . or iSoft . . . a division of Apple Galactic Life Systems . . . ?

Well, we know one thing for sure. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43906105)

Reguardless of what happens to Microsoft, Apple is toast.

Re:Well, we know one thing for sure. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43906133)

I don't want to start a holy war here, but what is the deal with you Mac fanatics? I've been sitting here at my freelance gig in front of a Mac (a 8600/300 w/64 Megs of RAM) for about 20 minutes now while it attempts to copy a 17 Meg file from one folder on the hard drive to another folder. 20 minutes. At home, on my Pentium Pro 200 running NT 4, which by all standards should be a lot slower than this Mac, the same operation would take about 2 minutes. If that.

In addition, during this file transfer, Netscape will not work. And everything else has ground to a halt. Even BBEdit Lite is straining to keep up as I type this.

I won't bore you with the laundry list of other problems that I've encountered while working on various Macs, but suffice it to say there have been many, not the least of which is I've never seen a Mac that has run faster than its Wintel counterpart, despite the Macs' faster chip architecture. My 486/66 with 8 megs of ram runs faster than this 300 mhz machine at times. From a productivity standpoint, I don't get how people can claim that the Macintosh is a superior machine.

Mac addicts, flame me if you'd like, but I'd rather hear some intelligent reasons why anyone would choose to use a Mac over other faster, cheaper, more stable systems.

To be fair . . . (2)

walterbyrd (182728) | about a year ago | (#43906307)

You are comparing very old Apple technology, to very old Microsoft technology.

I am not sure if that proves anything about the current state of either technologies.

Sure, they can survive. But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43906117)

They'll need to trim the fat along the way. I don't see how they can maintain their current size efficiently if Windows and Office does not grow in the coming years.

Microsoft is fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43906203)

Android isn't really a competitor for the desktop market and MS doesn't make its money in the tablet market...not sure why they are considered 'competitors'. A big chunk of the money MS makes from OS sales is through OEMs selling machines with an OS pre-installed. Nobody wants to buy Win8 machines so they are forced to install older OS versions (at lower price point) or sometimes Linux.

Once Win8 blows over, I suspect that the decline in sales will reverse course slightly. People still want Windows machines.

It's always fun to speculate ..... (1)

King_TJ (85913) | about a year ago | (#43906237)

The way I see it, there are no really good answers to the questions in the original article. Will MS market-share keep plunging? A *lot* of that hinges on the long-term popularity of the trend of people using tablet devices in place of computers.

If you're the type who likes to bet on future results based on current trends? Then yes, you have a lot of statistical data in your corner. "John Q. Public" and "Jane Doe" who were never really very good with computers to begin with absolutely LOVE devices like the iPad, or smartphones. All they were ever trying to do to begin with was surf the net, check their email, and maybe type up a few letters to print out. The letter writing part, long argued a weak spot for mobile phones or tablets, is largely overcome with a bluetooth wireless keyboard.

The kids and teens who only wanted the computers to play video games? That market is splitting down the middle too. A lot of them are pretty satisfied playing the ever-increasing number of titles on the Android or iOS devices. (Heck, they were playing devices like the Gameboy before that, and stuck paying much higher prices for the game cartridges.) Just as many consider that a non-starter, because they want to play bigger, more demanding titles like World of Warcraft or the Call of Duty series.

I'm not sure how long this trend will continue though? My experience with tablet computing is, you generally get only a "lite" version of a given application, compared to what's done on a full-fledged PC or Mac. If nothing else, it's sorely lacking in local storage capabilities compared to a computer. I think computer sales to the public may have permanently declined a bit, because people figured out there are good alternatives now if they don't really want or need everything a PC can do. But I suspect we're quickly reaching the saturation point there.

If Microsoft could come up with some new, compelling reason to use a Windows based computer ... something clearly impossible to do on a tablet or phone that a whole lot of people would REALLY like to be able to do? They're right back in the game.

Sure they can (1)

houghi (78078) | about a year ago | (#43906251)

They can survive just like any other non-dominate company. They could resize to moms basement size and just give support to grandma and her friends and survive.

The real question is if they WANT to do that.

Most likely at some point they rather sell then resize.

Doesn't matter if Windows doesn't dominate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43906283)

That's why MSFT stock is at its highest price in several years.

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