Who Gains if the Giant Falters?
If indeed Microsoft were to suffer in the marketplace, at least three players would benefit:
Google: The search giant has done something deeply intelligent by developing its Android mobile phone platform. Its smart that they go first for the mobile market, and grow up into ultra-mobile devices, MacDonald says. And ultimately, why not get into the more general PC environment? In the future (and even now) the line is blurring between mobile computing and the desktop PC its all one environment. So entering the mobile arena first (which is not Windows strength) is savvy.
Apple: Apple continues to grow in enterprise market share, he says.
Linux: You cant rule out desktop Linux. It continues to evolve and get better, MacDonald says. OpenOffice, a free, open source alternative to leading Microsoft cash cow Office, keeps on improving, and is already perfectly suitable for most uses, he says.
Advice for Enterprise Users
MacDonald and Silvers presentation offers a number of recommendations for enterprise clients as they consider their future relationship with Windows:
On an immediate basis, take a look at the extent of Windows OS instances in your infrastructure. Create a forecast for your tipping point, at which youll likely become OS-agnostic.
Over the next year, take a look at where virtualization technologies and OS-independent applications can give you a competitive or cost advantage. At the same time, MacDonald recommends proceeding with Vista deployments; even if Microsoft were to change course, it would be a couple years down the road.
Longer term, keep track of Microsofts road map. Based on how satisfied you are, vote with your wallet, they advise. Dont hesitate to consider alternative computing models. And if you want to extend the life of your current Windows instances, use virtualization to squeeze more bang for your buck.