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Microsoft and Operating Systems: End of Year Tech Trends

The world of technology moves at a blistering pace. Five years ago, Windows XP was the most-used operating system (OS) in the world. At the time, Microsoft was just beginning to roll out its first cloud-based service offerings under the Microsoft “Azure” brand. As consumers, we were still mostly living in a desktop world. Angry Birds was the #1 game in the iOS App Store, and the first-edition iPad had just rolled out. Today, Microsoft and operating systems look a lot different than they did five years ago. Here's how our world is changing. 

2011 Market Share: Desktop OS

OS Market Share

2016 Market Share: Desktop OS 

OS Market Share

2016 Market Share: Mobile OS

Mobile Market Share

Today, the most heavily used operating system in North America is iOS, which runs on iPhones and iPads. The rest of the world mostly runs on Android. In third place are Windows operating systems (typically in places where mobile hasn’t taken off as much yet).

North America OS Market Share

Clearly, the trend over the past five years has been a shift away from Microsoft and operating systems associated with it. As a technology enthusiast, I am always keeping an eye on this trend. Microsoft seems to be painfully aware as well, and is adapting to the trend.

Microsoft Goes Open Source

MS Loves Linux

At Microsoft’s annual Build conference, the company recently announced how it will now support Linux and OS X, Apple’s operating system. They will support these new systems with their standard suite of development tools. Previously, these tools worked only on a Windows OS. 

Related to this, Microsoft also recently join the Linux Foundation — an organization of corporations and individuals who collaborate on various open-source projects. Joining the Linux Foundation means more than just submitting a Pull Request on GitHub. It represents Microsoft becoming actively involved in the use of Linux, Node.js, and other open-source projects.

Within the Linux Foundation, Microsoft is a Platinum Member. This is the highest membership level a corporation can have — even higher than Google's participation. As a technology enthusiast, I see this raising several interesting questions to ponder. 

  • Why the shift in thinking at Microsoft?
  • What will the next five years look like?
  • How does this affect my customers? (Many companies — especially utility, oil, and gas companies — rely heavily on Microsoft technology.)

Microsoft and Operating Systems: A Prediction for the Future

Microsoft knows the world is changing. We are seeing massive shifts toward more mobile devices, tablets, virtual reality and multiple reliable desktop OS choices. Amid all this change, how can the global technology powerhouse sustain growth and remain viable? Microsoft understands that a cloud-based OS, rather than desktop version, is the future. The company is focusing on building software for all devices. It is offering cloud-based services to support the software initiatives of the future. It is turning into an enterprise-software company rather than a one focused on both consumer and enterprise software.

The next five years, I believe, will not be as radical in terms of shifts as the past five years. But we will see the results of the past five years play out. Apple will retain its stronghold on the mobile market in North America, as there seems to be no reason for that to change. Apple-based computing devices — like the MacBook Pro — will continue to climb in market share. And Microsoft technology will begin to work very well on OS X systems. 

There are some interesting new technologies coming. Virtual reality (VR), anyone? The impact of VR on our enterprise and consumer lives remains so be seen. Many prominent leaders in the software industry predict it will be large, however.

Impact to Your Organization

What does this mean for your organization? To start, you’ve probably relied on Microsoft technology and the PCs that support them for quite some time now. No worries, you can continue to do so. But do expect to see more and more MacBooks — and even possibly Chromebooks — showing up around your office in the next five years. The most recent release of the .NET Framework (now called .NET Core) is designed to run on Linux, OS X and Windows. In addition, the tooling around building applications that run on these operating systems will also run across all major operating systems.

Microsoft’s newest code editor, Visual Studio Code, is written in JavaScript and runs on Electron. It has been designed and built from day one to run across all operating systems. The core Visual Studio product, which developers have relied on for more than a decade, is also now ported to run across all operating systems.

In the next five years, expect the reliance on IT departments to lessen, if they haven’t already. As more and more software becomes cloud-based (think MS Outlook and SQL Server), there won’t be as much need for internal IT departments to manage Exchange servers and for database administrators (DBAs) to manage SQL servers.

Conclusion: Microsoft and Operating Systems, Now and Beyond

We live in a brave new world; it is always evolving. Keeping up with all the trends can feel challenging. If you’re willing to adapt to changing technology, however, you will make future transitions easier for yourself and your organization. Take me for example. I wrote this blog post on a Mac with Microsoft software :-)

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Author Information

  • Josh King

    Josh King

    Josh King works as a Senior Consultant, specializing in software architecture, at the GIS consulting company SSP Innovations in Centennial, Colorado. Since 2000 Josh has worked on a number different software applications with his most recent experience being in developing field operations applications for the Telecom, Oil and Gas, and Utility industries.

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