Windows at risk of "collapsing," say analysts

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Windows at risk of "collapsing," say analysts

Redmond (WA) – The development time for Microsoft’s operating system are too long, there are legendary compatibility issues, and new competition is driving the need for Windows to an all-time low.

Those are some of the main arguments from Gartner analysts who presented a dismal look at Microsoft in a conference session called “Windows Is Collapsing: How What Comes Next Will Improve.”

“Sometime in the middle of the next decade, Windows will be playing a much less important role on the desktop,” said Garnter analyst Neil MacDonald, who shared his findings in the presentation alongside fellow analyst Michael Silver.

When Vista was released last year, amidst the glamour of what Microsoft called its largest software launch date ever, Microsoft did not expect the negative backlash it received.

Countless consumers, from computer minimalists to business professionals, have purposefully avoided upgrading to Vista.  Many have even looked for ways to downgrade new systems with Vista built-in to the previous OS, Windows XP.

Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, not nearly as many people questioned the value of Windows.  The monopolistic OS maker had many convinced that Windows was the only way to go.  

With the increasing boom of Apple computers, and especially Linux and even homebrew systems, people have become more skeptical with Windows.  Unfortunately for Microsoft, that cynicism grew just in time for Vista.

Another point MacDonald and Silver outlined, according to Computerworld, was that the emergence of Web-based applications makes the operating system on the computer itself less relevant.  Nearly 80% of corporate apps today only run on Windows, but Gartner says that by 2011 there will be very little dependence on operating systems for specific programs.

Additionally, contended the Gartner analysts, the PC market has matured in the US.  Since the inception of the portable computer, booming technological changes required operating systems to be radically updated, but now there is not really as much of a need to increase the functionality of an OS.  To many PC users, Windows XP delivers all that they need so there’s no reason to upgrade.

However, the analysts conceded that any earth-shattering changes in the OS market won’t happen for at least a couple years, so Vista will probably reach a healthy level of adoption in the rest of this decade.  After Vista, though, despite the fact that it will still be a key player, Windows may lose some of its glamour.

“I believe Microsoft will pursue a path of slow incremental change because that’s safest for their stockholders,” said Silver.