Move over, Windows; Google and Apple are movin’ in

Woody Leonhard

With nearly infinite and virtually free cloud storage available, and with archrivals Google and Apple offering big ecosystems of apps and media, Microsoft seems to have the short end of the stick.

Will Windows be able to compete in this brave new world? Or has it already been relegated to the technological bench — by consumers and, increasingly, companies?

Missing a major shift in personal computing

Put down the tar and feathers; I’m not predicting the imminent demise of Windows, by any means. Even with the extraordinary pace of the tech industry, Windows has the inertia of a movingfreight train, sufficient to carry it well into the next decade. That assumes it’s helped along by a re-envisioned Windows 9.

But given the current state of computing in general, I’m starting to worry that Windows 9 will be too little, too late. Forces outside Microsoft — particularly the convergence of proprietary hardware and content — could relegate Windows to niche applications. It could become the operating system of corporate drones and the platform for aged software.

I’m not worried about Microsoft’s survival as an ongoing enterprise. With Satya Nadella now firmly in command, I’m convinced Microsoft’s going to do fine. But will it do so with Windows?

Like it or not — believe it or not — both Apple and Google have assembled enormous ecosystems of interconnected applications and content. It can be argued that Microsoft has largely missed that shift in consumer computing, choosing to sit on its corporate-leaning laurels. There’s a huge demand for iOS and Android apps, and many of those apps are making tons of money for their authors. Similarly, there’s an unfulfilled demand for apps that run in the cloud, accessible to anyone with a browser, no matter what platform they’re using.

When was the last time you heard about a fabulous new Metro/Modern app — or new Windows desktop software? Possibly the last exciting MS software news was when OneNote went mobile — or when Microsoft made a viable version of Office for the iPad. (According to an InfoWorld article, IBM announced that it will help Apple deploy iPads and iPhone to enterprises.)

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2014-07-17:

Woody Leonhard

About Woody Leonhard

Woody Leonhard is a Windows Secrets senior editor and a senior contributing editor at InfoWorld. His latest book, the comprehensive 1,080-page Windows 8 All-In-One For Dummies, delves into all the Win8 nooks and crannies. His many writings tell it like it is — whether Microsoft likes it or not.