Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Microsoft is Down, But Not Out!

There was once a time, not that long ago, when Microsoft and it's ubiquitous Windows operating system seemed to be unstoppable. This was, after all, the company that had the money and the power to crush anyone or anything that they pleased with ease. This was the company that set the pace, or so it was thought, for all new technologies and new trends, and it's views were consider to be almost law. 

Not any more.

Today, Microsoft is struggling, losing both cash, prestige and market share, as it plays catch up to Apple, Google and the open source crowd. This trend still continues despite all of the recent and great press that Microsoft has been getting for it's second incarnation of Vista, otherwise known as the Windows 7 beta. Thanks to Apple, Google and to a lesser extent on the efforts of the open-source crowd, Microsoft and it's Windows flagship isn't looking quite as invincible as it once was. 

InformationWeek and many others have been reporting on the recent findings from Net Applications that shows Windows use is continuing to fall sharply, all at the same time that the Mac, and to a much lesser extent, Linux, has also been sharply rising. 

InformationWeek reports:

"Apple's market share has risen month to month in seven of the last 11 months. In March 2008, the Mac OS X had a share of 7.48% and in December it was 9.63%. Microsoft, on the other hand, has seen its share drop in seven months since March, when Windows had a 91.57% share. In December, Windows had an 88.68% share. 

The latest numbers from Net Applications followed almost two weeks after Microsoft reported an 11% drop in net income and an anemic 1.6% rise in revenue in its most recent fiscal quarter as a result of a decline in sales of Windows and a weak global economy. Apple, on the other hand, reported the same week a 9% increase in sales of Macintosh computers during its most recent quarter."

Wow, for Microsoft that has got to hurt and I'm sure that they are working overtime to address all of this. The big question - is it already too late? Despite Windows 7, it still may be a little too late for Microsoft to stop either the Mac or Linux from gaining even more ground against it's Windows juggernaut. 

This is in part due to Microsoft's 'it's good enough' philosophy and the debacle from Vista. This has caused many Windows user, for the first real time, taking a closer look at the alternatives and they seem to be liking what they see.  In the process they have discovered that Microsoft isn't the only or even the best game in town and the recent Net Application numbers point this out. 

One of the more interesting things to come out of the recent Net Application figures, however, as pointed out by the Inquirer, is that when you break down Windows and OS X into their various and different versions, then Linux, which is often viewed as being the third biggest OS, actually ends up way down the list at being number 7! And that would be for all 75 billion different versions of Linux bundled together! I would hate to think of Net Applications having to try to break down Linux into all of  it's many, many and different flavors, otherwise the list might end up being a mile long! 

Regarding Linux's market share, the Mac site, 9to5Mac, even went so far as to suggest that the Hackintosh (illegal OS X based computers) may have, in fact, beat out all of the various Linux versions put together as well. This is based on the fact that Net Applications gives a one percent market share to OS X computers that have no version number assigned to them! This, to some, is a clear indication that a lot of people are using OS X on non-Apple machines.

It is also interesting to note that people seem to be abandoning Microsoft's Explorer for other browsers such as FireFox , which has seen it's market share grow to 21.5 %. Safari, as well, has also grown from 5.8 % to 8.3 %. Whether or not Microsoft's new Explorer 8 can win back some of that share is still yet to be seen, but one thing that can be clearly seen from all of this data is that Microsoft's dominance in both the OS and browser space is no longer a given, and if they wish to remain number on top that they are going to have to work really hard, or otherwise, nimbler and more innovative companies such as Apple, Google and others will be eating their lunch. It may take some time, even a long time, but if Windows 7 and Explorer screws up this time, then I can see the day when Microsoft will no longer rule the roost, but will continue to lose market share and relevance.  

In the end, Microsoft may be down, but they are also certainly not out of the game yet  - not by a long shot! If Microsoft is famous for being anything, it is for being a survivor, and one that will fight tooth-and-nail to get what it wants, and what they have always wanted is nothing more, nothing less than - total market dominance! Will they continue to succeed, or will they continue to lose out to Apple and Google?  Time will tell. 

And that's my 2 cents 4 this Tuesday, February , 2009


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