Windows Market Share Falls to Lowest in Decades, But Should Microsoft Care?

Windows Market Share Falls to Lowest in Decades, But Should Microsoft Care?

According to stats and commentary supplied by Seeking Alpha, Windows has fallen below 90% in worldwide market share while Apple's Mac OSX has overtaken the 8% mark. Additionally, ChromeOS more than doubled (0.06% to 0.15%) since the 2013 holiday season.

And, one has to wonder, even with the launch of a new CEO, if this is the beginning of erosion or just a temporary setback as Microsoft rights itself.

Microsoft Windows is at a breaking point. In fact, we'll see here in a month or so (April 8, 2014) whether or not Microsoft can lure customers back to Windows with the release of Windows 8.1 Update 1. Microsoft has spent the last few months fixing Windows 8 so that normal computer users (non-touchscreen users) can benefit from using the OS through minor mouse and menu additions that probably should have existed since the beginning. I've talked about this before, most recently in A Windows RT-like Future is Still in the Works with Windows 9.

From a Windows perspective, I don't think we've ever experienced a time like this. Windows has been the dominant OS for years, topping and maintaining over 90% of market share worldwide, and even though it has only slipped to around 89%, its evidence that times are definitely changing.

The next few months, particularly after the end of Windows XP support and the release of the desktop improved Windows 8.1 Update 1 (coincidentally or not coincidentally both happening on the same day) will be fascinating to watch. Windows, the operating system, sits on the precipice and because of advancing competitors could actually go either way. If Microsoft can teach the world to trust it again, Windows could sneak back into the 90 percentile again. If not, Microsoft will need to rely on other avenues for revenue.

And, this may already be happening. Per Satya Nadella's first email to employees, and then subsequent interviews after, he has consistently hammered Mobile First/Cloud First, meaning that the once OS and software firm, is now more focused on devices and services. In essence, it's still heading in the direction outlined over a year ago. New guard, same direction.

When you look at Microsoft's revenue numbers from 2010 to 2013, Windows has been flat. Microsoft Office still represents the majority of escalating revenue and Server and Tools (System Center and Cloud) comes in right behind. There's no question Microsoft knows this and has been attempting to address it. Even recently, Microsoft is suggesting a lower cost Windows. Windows with Bing would bring devices running Windows to the masses because of the overall lower price of the OS.

Obviously, to many within Microsoft, releasing a lower-cost, closer-to-free Windows has to feel a bit like getting hit in the gut. Windows has towered over other OS offerings for so long the ego has to be bruised slightly with just the slightest dip in dominance. Windows is Microsoft's baby. Without Windows would any of us be using computers today? Truly many are invested. From Microsoft employees to consumers, Windows has been part of everyday life since its first release in 1985.

But, there comes a point where, to be successful, Microsoft has to move beyond an operating system that is heavily grounded. Windows Azure, Office 365, System Center and other Cloud-defined services are going gangbusters. So, maybe the drop in overall Windows market share means Windows is becoming less important, even to Microsoft. As Microsoft's mobile and cloud offerings advance and continue to hint at a company rebirth, maybe a loss of Windows market share actually means that Microsoft's plan is successfully working. Could it be that a bump in ChromeOS and Mac OSX usage is actually a bad thing for Google and Apple because that's not the future?

Maybe Microsoft should just stop caring about Windows altogether.

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