Thursday, May 27, 2010

Is the Windows Era over?

I have made no secret of my animus against the Windows operating system. I use it only at work these days - and am stuck on Windows XP for the most part. But I still find it hard to use the operating system without being constantly needled by its poor design, poor efficiency, and lack of respect for the user.

But now many are arguing that the end of the Windows Era is here with the rise of Google "in the cloud", Apple in the smartphone/iPad space, and HP's high-profile purchase of Palm for webOS. They predict that we are past the peak of the Microsoft mountain, and will be watching a slow slide to irrelevance in the next 10 years.

Microsoft lumbers along, avoiding risks, clinging to Office and Windows revenues. Meanwhile, companies without Microsoft's existing monopoly-bound customers drive change, and they are willing to take risks. The mobile-to-cloud service platform is to the PC what the PC was to the mainframe: It extends computational and informational utility to more people and places -- and for lower cost. The Windows era is giving way to the anytime, anywhere, on-anything era. The most dynamic innovations are occurring outside the Windows monopoly...
HP already has announced a WebOS-based tablet. HP's next, logical step is to release a laptop running WebOS. Losing HP is bad, but there may be more trouble coming. Sony is yet another traitor in the making. Last week, Sony announced plans to support Google TV by offering a television running Android. As part of a recent reorganization, Sony execs responsible for VAIO PCs are in charge of TVs. OS migration from Sony smartphone (the Xperia X10) or Google TV-based television to tablet or PC is logical next step. What about Dell, which already has adopted Android for smartphones? Windows is bloated and moribund compared to these lither mobile OSes pushing up into the PC market.
To be clear, the end of Microsoft's dominance does not necessarily mean the beginning of an Apple Computer era. Google is well-poised for dominance, there are a number of alternative OSes out there like webOS and Android, and with Linux it is becoming increasing cheap for anyone to start from scratch in inventing their own Operating System for their own custom device.

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