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November 20, 2015

Dominant at 30 years old, but is the Windows OS future bleak?

Analysis: The Windows Operating System may have made it to 30, but have we seen it in this format for the last time?

By James Nunns

Microsoft’s Windows Operating System is 30 years and it is still dominating the desktop OS market.

Combined, its operating systems total 88.55% of current desktop market share, according to Netmarketshare.

Windows 7 dominates with 57.79% of the market, while its latest OS Windows 10 accounts for 1.87%.

The dominance is clear but to highlight it further, the largest slice of the pie that doesn’t go to Microsoft is only 4.18% from Mac OS X 10.10.

It seems that age has not dampened its appeal to the market as it remains typically the default choice for businesses and consumers.

Released on the 20th of November 1985, Windows 1.0 sold 500,000 copies in just under two years, part of the foundation for success can be attributed to its price compared to its competitor Apple. Windows 1.0 came in at $99, while Apple’s Lisa OS cost around $10,000.

Dan Ulzhoefer, CEO, UI Centric said: "Windows was the first platform to truly realise the dream of the personal computer. The idea that every person could have access to their own programmable computing device is now at the heart of our relationship with technology today."

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Although use of its OS seems to be ubiquitous there have been bumps in the road. Microsoft would probably rather forget about problems with Vista and Windows 8.

Windows Vista attempted to fix some of the security problems that persisted on XP, however, compatibility issues with applications resulted in slow uptake.

In the end the company has focused on making the end user more productive, simplifying tasks that were once perhaps cumbersome and building a cross-platform strategy with Windows 10.

Challenging across platforms, the company faces stiff competition from the likes of Apple with its iPad Pro, a potential replacement for the laptop and, with PC sales continuing to decline, the future may not be rosy for the OS.

Chipping away at Microsoft’s desktop dominance, Mac OS X grew from a 3.68% marketshare in 2014 to 4.18% in 2015. While minimal compared to the market share of Windows, Apple is making in-roads little by little.

Windows 10 could potentially be the last version, with Microsoft employee Jerry Nixon saying: "Right now we’re releasing Windows 10, and because Windows 10 is the last version of Windows, we’re all still working on Windows 10," during the Ignite conference in may.

At least it could be the end of Windows in its current format, as rolling updates replace versions; the next step could be for it simply to be called Windows.

The future, with the rise of cloud, could perhaps see Windows-as-a-Service, with the OS becoming something based on a pay-as-you-go model.

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