Microsoft Windows has been a mainstay of the technology landscape since 1985. For most of that time, it’s been by far the most-used operating system in the world. It still is, but its market share is shrinking, particularly in the U.S.A. Could it really be time to say a final goodbye?
Understanding the success of Microsoft Windows
To understand why Microsoft Windows is currently in big trouble, you need to understand what made it such a success in the first place. In simple terms, Microsoft Windows was created with the mainstream in mind.
The big differentiator between Microsoft and Apple was that Microsoft only made the operating system. Apple, by contrast, also produces its own hardware. This meant that Microsoft was able to work with manufacturers to get Windows PC mass-produced in a way Apple could never manage.
This in turn meant that there was a Windows PC for every budget, even the lowest ones. That ensured Windows popularity and hence encouraged third-parties to develop software for it. As the range of Windows software increased, so did its ability to compete with Apple at the premium end of the market.
Enter mobile devices
Apple, however, started to rock Microsoft’s world in 2007 with the launch of the first iPhone. This led not only to the iPad (and iPod touch) but also to Android smartphones and tablets. At first, none of these were real competitors to Windows PCs.
Over the years, however, the performance gap has closed. As a result, some people are able to use phones and tablets when they would once have used tablets and laptops or even desktops. What’s more, the average person has a lot of motivation to make the switch.
It’s common knowledge that homes are getting smaller. Some people can get a bit more space out of their property by adding a side return extension. Many people, however, just have to do what they can with what they have. This generally includes streamlining possessions, for example swapping out a laptop and a tablet for a tablet plus accessories.
This has been great for companies in the mobile device market, including Apple. It has, however, been terrible for Microsoft. They have never managed to gain any serious traction with mobile devices.
Along comes ChromeOS
Microsoft can’t have been happy about the move to mobile, but it still had its dominance in the laptop/desktop market. Now, however, that too is under threat, not from MacOs, but from ChromeOS.
ChromeOS is basically Android for laptops and desktops. It runs Android apps, browser-based apps, and cloud apps. In other words, it covers most, if not all, of what most people and businesses are going to want to do. What’s more, the interface is user-friendly and Google offers effective remote-management tools.
In principle, the downside to ChromeOS is that it has limited offline capability. In practice, these days, that’s largely irrelevant. Firstly, a lot of modern applications need internet access to work effectively. Secondly, it’s highly unlikely that anyone is going to be entirely without the internet for any significant length of time.
The payback for sacrificing offline functionality is that Chromebooks can run happily on much lighter hardware than Microsoft Windows. This means they can be sold much more affordably. ChromeOS is a long way off reaching the user figures Microsoft Windows has, but once upon a time, Chrome was a long way off reaching the user figures Internet Explorer had.