by Brian Solis

In Computerworld, Gartner analysts Michael Silver and Neil MacDonald went on the record with their views on Microsoft Windows and its declining role and significance in tomorrow’s enterprise, “Microsoft has not responded to the market, is overburdened by nearly two decades of legacy code and decisions, and faces serious competition on a whole host of fronts that will make Windows moot unless the software developer acts.”

And in PC World, Windows is predicted to lose its market share as cloud apps start to impact enterprise computing.

The legacy applications won’t go away, even if the exciting stuff is being done on Internet-based apps, they said. But it won’t stay that way. Today, 70 to 80 percent of corporate applications require Windows to run, but the Gartner analysts expect a tipping point in 2011, when the majority of these applications will be OS-agnostic, such as Web applications. “Sometime in the middle of the next decade, Windows will be playing a much less important role on the desktop,” said MacDonald.

Is this a surprise to you? Nah, I didn’t think so.

Web apps are still gaining traction as they evolve in functionality and elegance. By 2011, I think we’ll see adoption soar, but it will start from within – meaning the workgroup. 2011 is right around the corner and yes, as we migrate from Windows as our primary OS, the browser becomes the natural replacement as our dashboard or hub for day-to-day applications. Where we are today is not even close to where we need to be in order for the tipping point to truly reveal itself. Many more strides in functionality, capabilities, and interoperability need to take place in order to truly transform the enterprise from a Windows-anchored infrastructure to that of a Web-based architecture.

Many believe this is why Microsoft is pushing for Yahoo and I think it’s in Yahoo’s best interest to listen. And, it’s also in Microsoft’s best interest to listen to all of the discussions that already place the company on the road to irrelevance.

Connect with me on Twitter, Jaiku, LinkedIn, Pownce, Plaxo, FriendFeed, or Facebook.

About the Author:

Brian Solis

Brian Solis is principal at Altimeter Group, a research-based advisory firm. Solis is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders and published authors in new media. A digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist, Solis has studied and influenced the effects of emerging media on business, marketing, publishing, and culture. His current book, Engage, is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to build and measure success in the social web.

Visit Brian's page at


    no imageBen Kunz (Who am I?)11 April 2008 8:15 pm

    The long view is all this debate over operating systems — whether they be DOS or Windows or OS X or a browser window — will someday go away. Today, we don’t need an operating system to use the telephone, and soon we won’t need one to share more complex information. The computer utilities used by most people remain simple interaction techniques — typing, or video sharing, or creating written or mathematical documents, period. The ability to create documents, record and share sound and images, and to type at each other is not really rocket science. As the input and output methods become true *commodities*, what remains will be the network and the gadgets that hook in. Say farewell, Microsoft, and perhaps later Apple OS X and Facebook and Twitter, because someday soon the message, not the means, is all that will matter.

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    no imageVictor Karamalis (Who am I?)11 April 2008 8:38 pm

    IBM and Salesforce have been taking advantage of the fact that Microsoft has focused on their tried and true clients instead of younger users (i.e. eating their lunch). It seems that they have given that responsibility to their hardware partners (like Dell and HP). However, they are slowly losing marketshare to open source and online alternatives. Yahoo does offer an online platform solution for them hence, one of the reasons of their impending acquisition. Although they have tried to make a hybrid with Office Live and Vista, it still feels like a sophomoric attempt at best.

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    no imageMeryn Stol (Who am I?)12 April 2008 5:38 pm

    “Many more strides in functionality, capabilities, and interoperability need to take place in order to truly transform the enterprise from a Windows-anchored infrastructure to that of a Web-based architecture.”

    Can you give an overview of what those missing pieces are? I guess there are people busy on all of them? I’d like to see a future post on this!

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