Window’s Titanic Sinking

The announcement of the RIM Playbook and the Samsung Galaxy Tab is another iceberg in the flow of  Window’s Titanic Sinking. Now Windows is an enormous $9B++ business and Windows still has 91% of desktop PCs [Windows XP alone is well over 50%]. And the server side of Windows is doing very well, thank you very much. So what is this Titanic baloney?

Well even Steve Ballmer has acknowledged that Apple iPad is taking ouch, a chunk out of his Windows desktop hide. Many projections see iPad selling 28M units in 2011. But for some observers that is a low projection – with notable Wall Street analysts seeing 36 million iPads sold in 2011. Now assume the excellent RIM Playbook and the Galaxy Tab do 1/2 that total next year [the Galaxy Tab is slated to available for all 4 major US telecom carriers]- this means that just these  3 tablets will be  selling 50million++ units next year. Ouch!  Yet the prospects of a Windows 7 powered tablet bring mixed reviews – Microsoft Watch sees a potential trainwreck.

Markers of  Closing Windows

There are some major indicators of a Titanic Looming beyond the declining markets sales of  notebooks, netbooks and desktop PCs. Here are four looming “PC-icebergs”:
1)the Windows codebase is huge, 0ld, and plastered over with security+reliability  flaws and 55million lines of code to navigate. Microsoft has tried 3 times to tame the beast – and Vista was the last attempt.
2)the idea of one OS codebase stretching from server through desktop to mobile and  tablets just does not work. Both Google and RIM are taking the approach that two different OS are needed for smartphone and tablet.  Google has Android for phones, Chrome OS for tablets while RIM has Blackberry OS6 and QNX=Tablet OS respectively.
3)The days of offering development tools that only work on one platform [or equivalently, Windows best of all] no longer cuts the mustard. Shops now have 2 imperatives:  a)integrate, integrate, integrate and b) use tools that allow cross platform development and delivery to reduce costs, reduce time spent doing the same thing over and delivering more with less. Proprietary does not meet that goal – and Windows is both fragmenting into proprietary shards and does not fit the cross platform bill . More and more that is Java, JavaScript/DOM/HTHML5, and a raft of scripting and middleware tools.
4)Microsoft cannot just back into Open Source but has to have a cross platform message. Think of SQL Server and its middle ware as the opportunity. This group of software ported to to Linux/Unix and tight integration with Oracle, DB2, TheNewOpenDatabases would do what IBM did back in the early 1990’s when its own  mainframe-first strategy was strangling the company.
The big value add will come when using Microsoft software is not proprietary but means solving integration and cross platform problems. Right now Open Source tools and software has that reputation – not Microsoft. The result is that first Web developers, now mobile vendors + users, and shortly slate and tablet users are in migration mode.

Windows Migration

A real migration equation has been major Wintel vendors switching out of the Redmond camp. And why not? Vista and then Windows 7 have hardly been a winner for PC makers. HP has been waiting 20 years to deliver their Touch screen competitive advantage to their PCs and have been frustrated every time by Redmond and Windows. So HP bought Palm and WebOS as much for its tablet as smartphone capabilities. Now HP will not have to wait for Microsoft to deliver a touch savvy, memory trim OS for its smartphones and tablets.

Also many PC vendors have flirted with Linux; but really have not pursued the Linux cost, stability, and speed of operation aggressively.But with the meteoric rise of  smartphones and tablets, especially Google Android[Linux based] , the Linux and Open Source equation has changed.  PC  Makers can see what a user oriented OS [and especially an Open Source version like Google Android and Chrome OS ] can do for their competitive advantage. First, they can fix the problems that Redmond many times refuses to acknowledge until it is biting sales badly. Think Vista . Second, the trim size and speed of Unix/Linux core OS have distinct competitive advantages that gallumphing 55million lines of code in Windows 7 cannot deliver however partitioned. Third, PC Vendors can go in and do a HTC, the smartphone vendors, that has written a winning GUI front-end for its Android phone line-up. Radical customization allows hardware vendors to tailor their gadgets precisely to their target markets – and not have to wait for the OS vendor to provide the hooks to do it.

So it should not be a surprise that HP is switching for its touch screen tablets and light computers from Windows 7 to its own Palm/WebOS. And longtime Wintel stalwart Dell has already one Android tablet on the market with promises of more to come. And all of the major smartphone and tablet vendors are looking anywhere but Redmond for their OS. The basic problem is that twice Microsoft delayed on revitalizing their OS. First with letting Longhorn fall well short of the envisioned major rewrite. Then , second, with the failure to update Windows Mobile in a timely fashion as Apple, then Palm, and now RIM and Nokia all have gained big jumps on Redmond.

Bottom line Windows Client is sinking fast … and Windows Phone 7 may not be enough to staunch the flow out of Windows notebooks and netbooks for a sizable chunk of consumer and light business users. And the implications for Windows Server are not good as developers, developers, developers migrate away from the proprietary .NET, ASP, and Visual Studio world for cross platform Java, HTML5 and Eclipse plus NetBeans. In a world going integration and open, Windows proprietary is just dead weight sinking the Windows brand because it provides very few winning/market leading virtues but increasing cost, upkeep, and/or security/operational burdens.

Now the only question is how fast does the Windows Titanic sink? If Windows Phone 7 is just me-too in features with Androids, iPhone, RIM and others, then the death knell  for Windows will be sooner; otherwise Windows will linger like IBM mainframes. Microsoft will be in the constantly scrambling to catch-up mode and Redmond’s troopers having suffered cutbacks and outsourcing will not be in the mood for another Long March.  So  the buoyancy factor will be the core of desktop operational and creative users who absolutely, positively cannot do without Windows with their huge models, multiple screens, and compute intensive tasks. How big is this chunk of the Windows client business ? Well it will be the life raft keeping Windows afloat sort of like Cobol and IBM mainframes survive even today.

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