Sunday, February 23, 2014

Rock, Meet Hard Place

One of my favorite Microsoft pundits Paul Thurrott had a post recently on the future of Windows. I borrowed his summary for the title of this post. Microsoft has found itself between a rock and a hard place.

Since Windows XP Service Pack 3, Windows has been "good enough" for desktop users. Microsoft is going to finally kill off XP by abandoning security updates for it. Certainly they will do the same for Windows 7. That's already set for January 14, 2020. If only Microsoft had a "hook" for obsolescence like Intuit does with Quicken.

But Microsoft has a bigger plan if it succeeds. They are trying to converge the various consumer devices onto a single software platform.

Stepping back a for a moment, I see three mainstream consumer computing platforms today: Apple, Google, and Microsoft.

Apple clearly has their walled garden, i.e. iCloud, but seem to be some way away from converging Mac OS and iOS. And they are determined to be a sole source.

Google has their "Let one thousand flowers bloom" platform, i.e. Android, but this may be moving somewhat to their own walled garden. It wouldn't surprise me if the platform turned out to be Chrome rather than Android but that's another discussion.

Microsoft has the legacy platform, Windows, and their challenge is to transition to an ongoing platform. This is what the Metro Modern user interface (UI) is all about.

But the Modern UI is just the user interface. They key to the success of the platform is the platform. Can Microsoft converge the underpinnings of the three screens?

Obviously desktop Windows has a foothold but consumers aren't lining up for the current Windows 8 product. Windows Phone is making slow but steady inroads. Windows RT is all but dead.

The enterprise market is a completely different question. Windows Server and Linux have the server market locked. Same with desktop Windows.

The enterprise questions are "Is Microsoft going to push Modern UI so hard that enterprises rebel? Can they rebel?" There doesn't seem to be a serious alternative today.

I wonder if Chrome is the alternative. It's certainly a ways out in the future but it's cloud-based and hardware agnostic.

The real money for the IT vendors is in the backends. What will Chrome talk to? Windows Server? Linux? Unix? OpenStack?

Stay tuned for further updates...

No comments: