Re: The Windows/Mac crossroads
"But Microsoft should be wary of XP holdouts coming to a crossroads where they're turned off by the radical redesign of Windows 8 and are looking to make a fresh start with a Mac or an inexpensive Chromebook."
Indeed. The May and June desktop usage share reports should be very interesting. In February, there were still upward of half a billion XP systems in use. With a lot of people rushing to upgrade, all that market share has to go somewhere. I think it's safe to say that Windows 7 will absorb more XP users than any other OS. But how many people will stick with XP over the next three months? How many will jump to a Chromebook, a Mac, or Linux? How many of the XP PCs will be replaced by a tablet instead of another PC?
With Windows 7 and 8.1 still accounting for more than half of PC users, it's not like Windows is going to evaporate in importance overnight or anything, especially in the enterprise. But I think it's likely that Windows falls below its historical 90% share of the PC market. But how far below? It might seem far-fetched, but if Windows were to fall to, say, 85% of the PC market, I wouldn't be surprised to see a lot of doomsday commentaries about the future of Windows (as opposed to, say, the future of Microsoft software that lives in the cloud, instead of tethered to the OS). 85% would still be a huge number-- but it would represent tens of millions of lost core customers. It would also suggest a much grimmer share of recent PC sales, and given the prominence of Windows 7 in the workplace, a near-complete flop among consumers.
Since Nadella took over, Microsoft has been emphasizing cross-platform opportunities more than ever. On the one hand, this rhetoric is in some ways a natural extension of Ballmer's "software and services" framework, which was never proposed as a completely closed garden. But on the other hand, the ramped-up emphasis might imply that Microsoft realizes Windows is less important than it used to be, and that the company isn't in position to reverse the tide.