Microsoft Windows “about to collapse”?

By Mark O’Neill

Analysts at a consulting firm called Gartner have concluded that Microsoft Windows is perilously close to collapsing, as the default operating system on most computers has become more and more “bulky” and “ill-equipped” to cope with the rapidly changing needs of computer users.

Now before all you Linux geeks start cracking open the champagne and start chanting “Burn Windows Burn!”, I just want to stress that these views are only the views of two Gartner Vice-Presidents (from what I can make out) but they probably speak for their company.  Plus Microsoft obviously strongly disagrees (they’re hardly going to plunge the sword into their own flagship product).

So it’s not as if there is universal agreement on this right now. As such, We’re certainly not going to see Wolf Blitzer in the CNN Situation Room pronouncing the death of Microsoft Windows and the rise to power of Linux anytime soon.

I have linked to the Times of London story in the first paragraph but here are some others. Here’s ZD.net, InformationWeek and Techcrunch.

So what do you think? Is Windows dangerously close to being a has-been? Or is it all a load of smoke and hot-air?





48 Responses to Microsoft Windows “about to collapse”?

  1. Pingback: Stewart Schatz » Blog Archive » The Doom Of Microsoft Windows

  2. I'd like to pose the question back to these chucklehead Gartner analysts in their ivory tower, "In exactly what way is it that Windows XP cannot cope with the rapidly changing needs of computer users?"

    And then again, in what way exactly are my needs "rapidly changing," anyway?

    These Gartner guys never cease to amaze me. They're even worse than the sensationalistic Ziff-Davis reporters who often are little more than the tech industry's version of Us magazine.

  3. I’d like to pose the question back to these chucklehead Gartner analysts in their ivory tower, “In exactly what way is it that Windows XP cannot cope with the rapidly changing needs of computer users?”

    And then again, in what way exactly are my needs “rapidly changing,” anyway?

    These Gartner guys never cease to amaze me. They’re even worse than the sensationalistic Ziff-Davis reporters who often are little more than the tech industry’s version of Us magazine.

  4. Gartner is right. I know the Windows-loving folk don't like it, but the handwriting has been on the wall for some time now – Gartner is actually very late in recognizing it.

  5. Gartner is right. I know the Windows-loving folk don’t like it, but the handwriting has been on the wall for some time now – Gartner is actually very late in recognizing it.

  6. Tony, they may be right. But I'd sure like to hear 'em justify it per my questions above. For your own sake, how is Windows not meeting your demands?

    Perhaps I have a greater than normal appreciation for Windows (XP) because I come from the ancient, pre-mouse days of computing and have used & supported every version of Windows.

    • Well as the Times article points out, we are reluctant these days to upgrade to the newest Windows version for a huge cost for potentially limited benefits (look at Vista). Plus we want things faster cheaper and faster and Microsoft doesnt seem to be able to deliver. The next Windows OS seems to be 2010 and since when has Redmond given us anything cheaper? We have Google snapping at their heels giving us Microsoft alternatives such as Google Docs, we have Linux offering an OS alternative…

      So I think Gartner is basically saying that Windows is in danger of becoming obselete in its current form if it doesnt change fast. The computing landscape is changing rapidly as users want things faster and cheaper – and that isn't the way Microsoft does things.

  7. Tony, they may be right. But I’d sure like to hear ‘em justify it per my questions above. For your own sake, how is Windows not meeting your demands?

    Perhaps I have a greater than normal appreciation for Windows (XP) because I come from the ancient, pre-mouse days of computing and have used & supported every version of Windows.

    • Well as the Times article points out, we are reluctant these days to upgrade to the newest Windows version for a huge cost for potentially limited benefits (look at Vista). Plus we want things faster cheaper and faster and Microsoft doesnt seem to be able to deliver. The next Windows OS seems to be 2010 and since when has Redmond given us anything cheaper? We have Google snapping at their heels giving us Microsoft alternatives such as Google Docs, we have Linux offering an OS alternative…

      So I think Gartner is basically saying that Windows is in danger of becoming obselete in its current form if it doesnt change fast. The computing landscape is changing rapidly as users want things faster and cheaper – and that isn’t the way Microsoft does things.

  8. Yeah, Mark, I agree that the way that Microsoft has historically rolled out new operating systems (and maybe even apps) needs to (and maybe already has) come to an end. It was profitable for them to haul out a new OS every few years, but now that there's such an entrenched user base, I think they've got to move to a more incremental, patch-based solution rather than forklife upgrades.

    Windows XP has been working fine for 6 years and they could've kept it working fine for another 6 via subscription-based update patches. Because, as I asked, really, what is it that Windows XP won't do for you? What "rapidly changing" needs exist that XP isn't capable of meeting?

    Vista is just so much fluff. And with hardly any real added functionality, it's simply not worth the effort to make the move. And that's just for me personally. I've been thru several enterprise-wide OS upgrade rollouts in the past decade & a half. The average corporate user is certainly nowhere near bumping into any real limitations of the OS. So, where's the incentive for the corporate world to spend the massive amount of money to bump up to Vista?

    • There is no incentive – period. Which is why everyone is waiting until 2010 for the next version of Windows. I think even Microsoft has admitted to themselves that Vista is a disaster and a write-off.

      Windows has lost its OS monopoly and it needs to realise that. If it tries to strong-arm people, everyone will just move to Linux. I mean, look at Ubuntu. Ubuntu are handing out free installation CD's to anyone who asks for them. Installing it seems to be a cinch. So the days of Microsoft holding everyone to ransom by saying "give us a few hundred bucks and upgrade!" are gone forever. Whether or not they actually realise that is another story altogether.

  9. Yeah, Mark, I agree that the way that Microsoft has historically rolled out new operating systems (and maybe even apps) needs to (and maybe already has) come to an end. It was profitable for them to haul out a new OS every few years, but now that there’s such an entrenched user base, I think they’ve got to move to a more incremental, patch-based solution rather than forklife upgrades.

    Windows XP has been working fine for 6 years and they could’ve kept it working fine for another 6 via subscription-based update patches. Because, as I asked, really, what is it that Windows XP won’t do for you? What “rapidly changing” needs exist that XP isn’t capable of meeting?

    Vista is just so much fluff. And with hardly any real added functionality, it’s simply not worth the effort to make the move. And that’s just for me personally. I’ve been thru several enterprise-wide OS upgrade rollouts in the past decade & a half. The average corporate user is certainly nowhere near bumping into any real limitations of the OS. So, where’s the incentive for the corporate world to spend the massive amount of money to bump up to Vista?

    • There is no incentive – period. Which is why everyone is waiting until 2010 for the next version of Windows. I think even Microsoft has admitted to themselves that Vista is a disaster and a write-off.

      Windows has lost its OS monopoly and it needs to realise that. If it tries to strong-arm people, everyone will just move to Linux. I mean, look at Ubuntu. Ubuntu are handing out free installation CD’s to anyone who asks for them. Installing it seems to be a cinch. So the days of Microsoft holding everyone to ransom by saying “give us a few hundred bucks and upgrade!” are gone forever. Whether or not they actually realise that is another story altogether.

  10. Sad thing is, most of the corporate world cannot move to Linux. It took us years just to advance from Windows NT thru 2000 to XP. XP is a pretty darned stable platform and the mission-critical apps that tens of thousands of businesses rely upon everyday work on it. You can't shift all those off to a totally different OS. Not overnight. Not in a year or two. Not for a very, very long time.

    We're still bogged down with enterprise-wide, mission-critical web-based apps that are coded for and/or only officially supported (by the vendors) under IE 6. if vendors can't even keep up with incremental browser updates – much less develop browser-independant apps – what hope is there for them to develop all-new versions of their stuff for a whole other OS?

    Windows XP is here to stay. MS missed the boat by not acknowledging that and figuring out how to work within that constraint. I agree that they've certainly shot themselves in the foot by trying to strongarm us into Vista. And like you said, that may very well be their undoing, as far as profits are concerned. Nonetheless, Windows isn't going away.

    • I totally agree with you. It takes time to learn an OS. How easy is it for the average PC user (read: normal non-technical person) to learn Linux? Ubuntu is good, but its look and feel are different enough to make me uncomfortable using it. Not to mention the major changes under the hood. There's a steep learning curve to Linux, less so to Apple, but it still exists. Anyone that thinks otherwise has their one up their zero. Troubleshoot connection issues over the phone for a day…that will tell you all about "normal PC users".

      Windows XP's problem is that it is too good and humanity now has too much information to digest. It's easier to stick with what works. I've just put too much time into this to switch. Thinking about it makes me feel sick.

  11. Sad thing is, most of the corporate world cannot move to Linux. It took us years just to advance from Windows NT thru 2000 to XP. XP is a pretty darned stable platform and the mission-critical apps that tens of thousands of businesses rely upon everyday work on it. You can’t shift all those off to a totally different OS. Not overnight. Not in a year or two. Not for a very, very long time.

    We’re still bogged down with enterprise-wide, mission-critical web-based apps that are coded for and/or only officially supported (by the vendors) under IE 6. if vendors can’t even keep up with incremental browser updates – much less develop browser-independant apps – what hope is there for them to develop all-new versions of their stuff for a whole other OS?

    Windows XP is here to stay. MS missed the boat by not acknowledging that and figuring out how to work within that constraint. I agree that they’ve certainly shot themselves in the foot by trying to strongarm us into Vista. And like you said, that may very well be their undoing, as far as profits are concerned. Nonetheless, Windows isn’t going away.

    • I totally agree with you. It takes time to learn an OS. How easy is it for the average PC user (read: normal non-technical person) to learn Linux? Ubuntu is good, but its look and feel are different enough to make me uncomfortable using it. Not to mention the major changes under the hood. There’s a steep learning curve to Linux, less so to Apple, but it still exists. Anyone that thinks otherwise has their one up their zero. Troubleshoot connection issues over the phone for a day…that will tell you all about “normal PC users”.

      Windows XP’s problem is that it is too good and humanity now has too much information to digest. It’s easier to stick with what works. I’ve just put too much time into this to switch. Thinking about it makes me feel sick.

  12. Microsoft has released crappy products before, (Windows ME?) and they've come back from it.

    Yes, a lot of people dont like buying a new computer infected with vista, but most of them end up replacing it with XP, another windows product.

  13. Microsoft has released crappy products before, (Windows ME?) and they’ve come back from it.

    Yes, a lot of people dont like buying a new computer infected with vista, but most of them end up replacing it with XP, another windows product.

  14. I bought 2 computers in the past year… Both came pre-loaded with Vista. Neither one has Vista on it anymore.

    The desktop is running Win XP pro and running SIGNIFICANTLY better than it was under Vista. My laptop is running Ubuntu Hardy. I tried installing Win XP on here (I have 2 legit Win XP Pro licenses) but the install wouldn't even get past "checking hardware," so me thinks Sony put something in the BIOS of the machine to prevent people from loading Win XP on here. (They've publicly stated it's not possible to install XP on this model of computer.)

    Come to think of it, I've had problems getting Linux live CDs to load on here too. Ubuntu Hardy is the first one that (almost) got all of my hardware correct. I still had to download and install the ndiswrapper and use the Windows driver for my wireless card. Oh and I don't think the built-in card reader works under Linux. No biggie, though. I have an external Dazzle box that works just fine for reading the cards that come out of my digital camera.

    Honestly, I am starting to think that Windows' days are numbered not because Vista is a horrible OS, but because MANY corporate customers REFUSE to support it. I know that our corporate IT has told our local IT that Vista is not allowed on our computers AND that computers running Vista aren't allowed to connect to our network. Sadly, though, iNews won't run under WINE or on a mac, so we're stuck with Windows. (I know an IT guy who DID try to get it running under WINE.) Honestly, if Microsoft were smart they'd extend the life of XP for everyone. But then again, this is the company that brought us Windows ME.

  15. I bought 2 computers in the past year… Both came pre-loaded with Vista. Neither one has Vista on it anymore.

    The desktop is running Win XP pro and running SIGNIFICANTLY better than it was under Vista. My laptop is running Ubuntu Hardy. I tried installing Win XP on here (I have 2 legit Win XP Pro licenses) but the install wouldn’t even get past “checking hardware,” so me thinks Sony put something in the BIOS of the machine to prevent people from loading Win XP on here. (They’ve publicly stated it’s not possible to install XP on this model of computer.)

    Come to think of it, I’ve had problems getting Linux live CDs to load on here too. Ubuntu Hardy is the first one that (almost) got all of my hardware correct. I still had to download and install the ndiswrapper and use the Windows driver for my wireless card. Oh and I don’t think the built-in card reader works under Linux. No biggie, though. I have an external Dazzle box that works just fine for reading the cards that come out of my digital camera.

    Honestly, I am starting to think that Windows’ days are numbered not because Vista is a horrible OS, but because MANY corporate customers REFUSE to support it. I know that our corporate IT has told our local IT that Vista is not allowed on our computers AND that computers running Vista aren’t allowed to connect to our network. Sadly, though, iNews won’t run under WINE or on a mac, so we’re stuck with Windows. (I know an IT guy who DID try to get it running under WINE.) Honestly, if Microsoft were smart they’d extend the life of XP for everyone. But then again, this is the company that brought us Windows ME.

  16. Am I the only one who thinks Vista is better than XP. I admit XP is a lot faster but if you have a relatively new PC this shouldn't be an issue.

    It's been almost 4.5 months since I became a full time Visa user and I can't think of a single instance where I had to find a missing dll or manually install a missing driver. Both of these issues are quite common under XP.

    • Please define "relatively new." I wasn't aware a dual core laptop with 1GB memory built only a year and a half ago was old. I thought the title "old" belonged to my Pentium II. Was I wrong? This laptop (though "Vista capable") groaned when I put Vista on it for 4 days. It simply couldn't handle it. Maybe if your laptop is very new—made only in the last couple of months—or if it's really high spec—2GB of memory at least—you can run Vista fine…but no computers made before Vista's release, even the ones with "free Vista upgrade certificate!" stuff, will run Vista well.

      • Man Pentium 4's are old. Heck it won't be long until my Centrino Duo is old if it isn't already old, and I got this computer about a month before Vista came out.

  17. Am I the only one who thinks Vista is better than XP. I admit XP is a lot faster but if you have a relatively new PC this shouldn’t be an issue.

    It’s been almost 4.5 months since I became a full time Visa user and I can’t think of a single instance where I had to find a missing dll or manually install a missing driver. Both of these issues are quite common under XP.

    • Please define “relatively new.” I wasn’t aware a dual core laptop with 1GB memory built only a year and a half ago was old. I thought the title “old” belonged to my Pentium II. Was I wrong? This laptop (though “Vista capable”) groaned when I put Vista on it for 4 days. It simply couldn’t handle it. Maybe if your laptop is very new—made only in the last couple of months—or if it’s really high spec—2GB of memory at least—you can run Vista fine…but no computers made before Vista’s release, even the ones with “free Vista upgrade certificate!” stuff, will run Vista well.

      • Man Pentium 4′s are old. Heck it won’t be long until my Centrino Duo is old if it isn’t already old, and I got this computer about a month before Vista came out.

  18. Mac, I agree about the sloppy developers needing to be canned, but it's far more prevailent than you could ever imagine. And even with 2GB of RAM, Vista won't perform well without some serious video oomph too.

    Mark, as for the next version of Windows that's due in 2010, what will it do for you that Windows XP cannot? I mean, really, what more do we need from our OS? Plenty of people whine about XP's supposed instabilities, but if you're running a reasonably standard system – that is, not the latest & flashiest video card cobbled together with some fresh-out-the-door mobo (complete with semi-tested, flaky BIOS) – XP is solid as a rock. I haven't rebooted my Dell Optiplex 755 with Xp Pro at work in like 2 months… and then it was due to a power outage caused by an automobile accident that took out a multi-block grid.

    • speaking for myself, XP is wonderful. I would be perfectly happy having XP forever. I just want to clear that one up. I have absolutely no problems with XP personally.

  19. Mac, I agree about the sloppy developers needing to be canned, but it’s far more prevailent than you could ever imagine. And even with 2GB of RAM, Vista won’t perform well without some serious video oomph too.

    Mark, as for the next version of Windows that’s due in 2010, what will it do for you that Windows XP cannot? I mean, really, what more do we need from our OS? Plenty of people whine about XP’s supposed instabilities, but if you’re running a reasonably standard system – that is, not the latest & flashiest video card cobbled together with some fresh-out-the-door mobo (complete with semi-tested, flaky BIOS) – XP is solid as a rock. I haven’t rebooted my Dell Optiplex 755 with Xp Pro at work in like 2 months… and then it was due to a power outage caused by an automobile accident that took out a multi-block grid.

    • speaking for myself, XP is wonderful. I would be perfectly happy having XP forever. I just want to clear that one up. I have absolutely no problems with XP personally.

  20. Gartner is one of the largest and most respected analysis firms out there. I can tell you that any business looking for recognition would kill to get in their reports. So what they say will most probably be taken into consideration by most companies. I believe there is some smoke there they base their theories on. But even if Windows will stop being the no. 1 OS, I doubt this will be the end of Microsoft!

    @Adam – Sony did indeed do some kind of deal with Vista for new laptops. First, no XP drives anywhere. My bf eventually made a custom install cd and I got XP working for a while, but it crashed miserably. I run Vista and Ubuntu on it right now.

  21. Gartner is one of the largest and most respected analysis firms out there. I can tell you that any business looking for recognition would kill to get in their reports. So what they say will most probably be taken into consideration by most companies. I believe there is some smoke there they base their theories on. But even if Windows will stop being the no. 1 OS, I doubt this will be the end of Microsoft!

    @Adam – Sony did indeed do some kind of deal with Vista for new laptops. First, no XP drives anywhere. My bf eventually made a custom install cd and I got XP working for a while, but it crashed miserably. I run Vista and Ubuntu on it right now.

  22. Why is no one here talking about Apple OSX? It's clearly the choice for non-uber-geek home users. Windows is designed for business, OSX is designed for home use. End of story. :)

    • lol, you still living in the 90's?

      In today's world you can't say one is better then the other it is all about personal preference. Also those mouses that come with new Apple's are the worst mouses ever designed. As well if you are into gaming at all Apple is the worst, although it is getting better slowly.

  23. Why is no one here talking about Apple OSX? It’s clearly the choice for non-uber-geek home users. Windows is designed for business, OSX is designed for home use. End of story. :)

    • lol, you still living in the 90′s?

      In today’s world you can’t say one is better then the other it is all about personal preference. Also those mouses that come with new Apple’s are the worst mouses ever designed. As well if you are into gaming at all Apple is the worst, although it is getting better slowly.

  24. Many people forget that when XP first came out it was a terrible OS, and stayed terrible until SP2 came out. The difference from then and now is the internet. Instead of just the teens using the internet a lot everyone is using the internet a lot so everyone can tell everyone how bad Vista is. Just like XP I'm willing to bet after a couple of updates it will be considered one of the best OS's to date.

    So far from my experience is that I hate Vista because all the programs that I need were built for Vista first so the are incredibly unstable with XP.

    Anyways the point I want to make is that Microsoft needs to forget about releasing a new OS every 6 or 7 years and concentrating on getting it right the first time and not after two service packs. Take an extra 2 years and get it right and people will love them for it. Well I would still hate Microsoft with a passion for similar reasons to why I hate EA, Wal-Mart, and our government.

  25. Many people forget that when XP first came out it was a terrible OS, and stayed terrible until SP2 came out. The difference from then and now is the internet. Instead of just the teens using the internet a lot everyone is using the internet a lot so everyone can tell everyone how bad Vista is. Just like XP I’m willing to bet after a couple of updates it will be considered one of the best OS’s to date.

    So far from my experience is that I hate Vista because all the programs that I need were built for Vista first so the are incredibly unstable with XP.

    Anyways the point I want to make is that Microsoft needs to forget about releasing a new OS every 6 or 7 years and concentrating on getting it right the first time and not after two service packs. Take an extra 2 years and get it right and people will love them for it. Well I would still hate Microsoft with a passion for similar reasons to why I hate EA, Wal-Mart, and our government.

  26. Pingback: RafaLinux » Blog Archive » Vista es lo mejor que le ha pasado a GNU/Linux (II)

  27. I can't lump myself in the same category of geek as most of the readers, but I have used Microsoft products since DOS 5, and have learned how to curse in different ways with each "upgrade" or change in OS.

    Thankfully, with a lot of help from sites like geeksaresexy.com, I've learned how to keep even older (think, gasp, Win98) limping along for friends.

    But every time a new OS comes out, regardless of professional reviews, I take a "wait for 6 months or longer" before upgrading or adding patches. I just don't trust MS products when they are first released, until more problems are shaken out. I can't believe how faulty their products tend to be.

    BTW, I use XP and find it as stable and more cost-effective compared to Vista. Vista Business also didn't come with drivers for DVD players, even though the laptop came with a DVD/CD player. Thankfully, there are freeware drivers online.

  28. I can’t lump myself in the same category of geek as most of the readers, but I have used Microsoft products since DOS 5, and have learned how to curse in different ways with each “upgrade” or change in OS.

    Thankfully, with a lot of help from sites like geeksaresexy.com, I’ve learned how to keep even older (think, gasp, Win98) limping along for friends.

    But every time a new OS comes out, regardless of professional reviews, I take a “wait for 6 months or longer” before upgrading or adding patches. I just don’t trust MS products when they are first released, until more problems are shaken out. I can’t believe how faulty their products tend to be.

    BTW, I use XP and find it as stable and more cost-effective compared to Vista. Vista Business also didn’t come with drivers for DVD players, even though the laptop came with a DVD/CD player. Thankfully, there are freeware drivers online.