Just an early-morning thought: is there any chance that Vista is the beginning of the end of Windows as an operating system? In other words, could the distinct lack of excitement surounding Vista (not surprising given much of the good stuff didn’t get into the first release of Vista) suggest we’re at a tipping point when it comes to Microsoft’s dominance of the OS market?
Look at it this way: other than people buying news PCs, there’s little reason for anyone to upgrade to Vista right now. The new features aren’t compelling enough, the hardware requirements are pretty stiff (some suggest 4GB of RAM is needed) and there’s no guarantee your existing software will be compatible with Vista. As a result, there’s an OS void in the market where most Windows users are perfectly content with the status quo. Still, there are a growing number of consumers looking for something different and/or better – and the current version of Vista ain’t it. It means there is a huge opportunity for Mac annd Linux to step into the void.
There’s seems to be a lot more buzz about the Mac, anecdotal evidence more people are moving over to Mac, and Apple’s fiscal first-quarter results suggests there’s more interest among consumers. The number of computers (desktops and laptops) sold climbed 28% to 1.6 million, highlighted by a 65% jump in unit sales of laptops to 986,000. Maybe this suggests the MacBook has become the default for the cool laptop set, or maybe it suggests laptops are beginning to outstrip desktops for people not chained to a desk all day.
Of course, the Mac will never really be taken seriously until it grabs a bigger foothold in the corporate market where Windows has a stranglehold. But you are seeing more attention about whether this could happen. I’m not sure whether anyone should get too excited about it yet but there is a conversation starting to emerge.
At the very least, the OS landscape could be poised for change because Vista has shown people that Microsoft’s ability to produce anything more than Windows upgrades has come to an end. At the very least, I’d argue that a powerful OS with lots of bells and whistles is becoming important given the browser has become the new OS for more people. Sure, people will argue you need a robust OS to run multi-media applications, etc. but all you really want the OS to do is work and work well without things like crashes and virus attacks.
As a result, Windows – and maybe even Mac, for that matter – is being shoved aside as the engine by the browser and the search engine, which are poised to become much more exciting places than the OS. Take a look at the buzz surrounding Firefox, Powerset and Freebase for a sign of what’s exciting tech people these days.
Update: For some interesting insight into why Apple is using “cats” as a theme for its OS iterations, check out TUAW.