Will the Next Decade See the End of the Dominance of the Windows PC?

by Chris Howard Dec 19, 2007

Apple has proven one thing: even in the computer industry, despite what is believed, there is room for proprietary systems.

Why is it that when it comes to any other technology, compatibility is less of an issue? Sure, there’s media compatibility, but all these things can run any OS they like.

In the games area this is most evident of all. Have you ever browsed the junk mail and seen how many games platforms there are now? Wii, Playstation, XBox, DS, PSP, PC, Mac (sometimes), etc. In the games market, if you can make a decent platform, developers will come to it. The argument of supporting multiple platforms seems to have become redundant.

But try getting support for a new computer platform…or even just try getting developers to code for the Mac.

And it’s not just desktop apps. I’m sure many others out there have experienced the frustration of a site coded to favor Internet Explorer.

Now, the dumb thing about that is it’s harder to code a website to be IE compatible than it is to be anything else compatible. The developer has to make extra effort to make a site work with IE. In fact, the general rule is to get your site working with compliant browsers first, and then code in all the bits necessary to make it work with IE. So it’s not like developers are afraid of doing extra work.

In the 1980s world of personal computers, many platforms existed. There were Apples, Hitachis, BBCs, IBMs (and compatibles), Spectravideos, Ataris, Commodores, Spectrums, Microbees, Amstrads, and dozens more, and all running their own operating systems.

Is there any chance—with the rise and rise of the web based application, plus applications built on transportable code, such as Java—that we’’ll see a return to those heady days where the OS doesn’t define the market? If that comes to pass, we will be the big winners, because then the focus of compatibility will have shifted to where it really belongs and should have always been—that is, data compatibility and standardized file formats. To achieve that, though, will require open formats. And obviously it can’t apply to all file formats, but certainly to many.

In fact, we already have these universal formats in some areas. Graphics, for example, has several standardized formats such as jpegs, tiffs, and gifs. The problem formats are the ones Microsoft controls, Word and Excel in particular.

When we finally achieve standard file formats for word processing and spreadsheets that are not controlled by any company profiting from them, then we just might see a boom in proprietary hardware and operating systems, as wiz kids in uni could start writing super OSes that would accelerate the development of operating systems, which as I’ve said before, has been somewhat slow.

The next decade could indeed see manufacturers throwing off the shackles of Windows and we could see a time where you buy the best computer, not the one that runs Windows. And a little competition will be good for the Mac.

And finally, a happy and safe festive season to you all, may we all get the Macs we want…and if anyone’s interested, I’d be happy with a Wacom Cintiq 21UX.


  • about 90% of this article has nothing to do with the title??? When you finally begin to talk about it, the article abruptly comes to an end…?

    hollandsworth had this to say on Dec 19, 2007 Posts: 2
  • Sorry, Holland. My working title was “Will we see a return of proprietary systems” but I didn’t think that would be broadly understood and was a bit vague. So I changed it to reference that final point which is the conclusion of the article.

    However, you are right, and I should have put some more thought into the final title.


    Chris Howard had this to say on Dec 19, 2007 Posts: 1209
  • I think most of the article is about the title.

    ps… what was a"BBCs”?

    Greg Alexander had this to say on Dec 19, 2007 Posts: 228
  • Greg, BBC was shorthand for BBC Micro, a micro computer (that’s what we called PCs way back then) developed by the BBC for the education market in the early ‘80s. Also it went by the nickname “Beeb”. From what I remember reading, it was a very good computer.

    <a >BBC Micro</a>

    Chris Howard had this to say on Dec 19, 2007 Posts: 1209
  • I’m not really sure I’m convinced that it’s the lack of open formats that has led to the dominance of Windows.  Apple is just as bad about proprietary formats as anyone, but they don’t dominate the OS market. 

    I think the real key to OS dominance is setting standards, open or not, and Windows has done that with Office and Excel.  But both of those are not only cross-platform, but readable by any number of compatible applications - including several on the Mac.

    So it seems to me that breaking Windows dominance is about setting standards outside of the need for Windows - like mp3 for music or jpg for photos which do not require any particular OS to use.  They don’t have to be open necessarily, they just have to be OS agnostic.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Dec 19, 2007 Posts: 2220
  • However, you are right, and I should have put some more thought into the final title.

    Given the last couple of articles posted on this site, your title is fine.  smile

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Dec 19, 2007 Posts: 2220
  • Unfortunately, most big business are solidly in the Microsoft camp. They have a huge investment in PC hardware and software thus making it expensive and difficult to get out from under the weight of having everything running on the Windows platform.

    The other issue is that many young programers are only adept at programming for a windows environment. One Unix software engineer told me that it’s easier and cheaper to hire Windows programers right out of college than to hire experienced Unix programers.

    My company is now 100% in the Windows camp. Our art department has switched from Macs running OS 9 to Windows. However, many of us at home use Macintosh computers and having open source software such as Firefox and NeoOffice let us coexist to some extent with the corporate Windows world.

    flyboy had this to say on Dec 22, 2007 Posts: 30
  • There’s no computer better than an Apple computer!  I’ve been messing with computers since 1985.  I’ve been an Atari user, a Commodore user, an Apple user, a Windows PC user.  I’m certified.  I’ve seen the best and the worst in all platforms.  I started programming in Atari Basic, and I’m what you call a 80s computer generation road hippie.  Look’n at what I’m work’n with?  I got my external mouse on my Macbook Pro flying through cyberspace, got me a kick butt website.  What can I say?  I’m the POWERSHAKER.  iWeb is my name!  Mac OS Journal is my game.  I got a Tiger running on my machine.  I got tired of Internet Explorer and the fascist regime of Microsoft long ago.  I run XP on my Mac just to show the world of Windblows where the wind is blowing. 

    It’s Christmas, and my next door neighbor Windblows user wanted me to download a driver for him.  Says he has a Linksys router, and he can’t get it up and running.  I’m a good Samaritan.  I helped him.  I downloaded the driver, and then I took the burn back over to him.  Something just told me to watch what he does with that disc.  He put it in his driver and clicked on the disc icon.  Lo and behold, he starts clicking on the driver .sys file.  Guess he thought it installed just like a Windblows program.  So, I say, “Hey, man!  Let me fix that for ya!”  You hear what I’m saying Apple adepts?  I get him to open up old Device Manager, and he says, “See, the device doesn’t show up.”  I say, “Yes it does.  See that PCI device that has the exclamation mark?”  He said, “Yeah, but it doesn’t say Linksys.”  “Well, I’ll make say Linksys.  Watch this.”  Browsed for the driver on the burn I gave him, and then installed it.  Had his network up in four minutes or less.  Guess us Apple Macintosh road warriors don’t know much about fixing PCs.  I’m tell’n ya I wouldn’t have a PC ever again.  I call it a shameful act.  Apple’s got the culture, the taste and the ingenuity.  Wanna play junk games no one else wants to play, buy a Windows PC, because all the best games come on Mac these days.  If I want to run all the junk games and walk into Wal-Mart like a WindBlows wizard, I’ll put old Boot Camp on the Macbook Pro and jam with the best of them.  Lately, I’ve heard from PC World that the Mac runs Vista better than a PC “clone.”  You know what I’m say’n?  Let’s talk about brilliance.  Let’s talk about the seasoned computer owner.  Let’s talk about the POWERSHAKER with his Macbook Pro at 2.4GHZ Core 2 Duo and the jam’n Geforce 8600M I’m pushin’. 

    Some Windblows user come and tell you that Apple users don’t know anything about computers, then tell me why I’m fix’n up one of their boys for them?  I don’t have time for Bill Gates Mall.  I’m walking into the Apple store feeling proud of my lady Apple Aphrodite.  I’m look’n out the window, and I can see apples in the clouds.  I got some Altec Lansing mids hooked up to my Pro, and I’m jamming to Whitesnake - not Timberlake.  I got class.  I got my 17” covered with an apple chick.  When I carry my Mac to the mall, everyone stares and starts drooling.  I get something done, and tomorrow a Windows user will still be bee-bopping through Device Manager and searching for the long-lost .dll file.  Ya know what I’m say’n?

    They say think different, but I’m thinking sexy.  I got a big bad 320 gig 7200RPM Seagate storing all my mp3 files and making advertisements for Apple just for fun.  I got one on google that got three five star ratings, and the week hasn’t even begun.  Ya know what I’m say’n?  Come on?  Show me any Windblows user life, and I’ll show you how vasty inferior his is to mine.  I got an iSkin and the longest foreskin in the world.  Eve took a bite out of the apple, but we still got the sweet spots left.  It’s apple pie.  It’s this in your face!  It’s the ancient, zen artist in the princedoms by the sea.  Apple’s for you and me.

    I got one-hundred-forty-five wallpapers of apple babes of the month.  I got a truck with a apple shocks that can take the punch when I’m riding through the sea of PC machines.  They say plug-in-play, and I just plug it in!  You see?  Why all the Apple users got a sexy butt?  Look like two apples in sling.  Every chick I ever dated is turned on by my Mac.  I put her in my slide show theater, and I’m off to the base camp.  Who can touch this?  The wind blows, and I know… I know it’s better to be different than be like every WalMart shopper wading through Bill’s techno drama.  I don’t have time for ya!  I’m ship’n out to Job’s backyard.  I got a tent with an apple on the side.  I got wireless hot spots in my crotch.  I don’t need a Windblows machine.  I hooke up anywhere day or night.  I plug RSS feeds bleeding for me.  If you ask “where’s the bathroom,” I’ll tell you “it’s probably built in.”  Why you Windblows iTunes so shabby compared to OS X sex? 

    I don’t want an Internet Explorer!  I want a big, bad web moment!  I want a Firefox scorer!  Now, I’m shut’n the door to the driver door.  No .dlls in my grill.  I got true plug-in-play, but what can I say?  It just works!  It just rocks!  I’m running a Hal 9000 with an extra large mo-hawk.  Who’s got my back!?  Let me see what you’re work’n with!  Penelope Cruz graces my desktop.  I’m burning discs for PC punks and my iPod never stops.  Man, what you talk’n about!?  Windblows is a flop!  STOP!

    I’m a white boy who can rap, because my Mac talk me how.  I give 8 gig iPods to pretty girls, and they’re pink and sweet.  I can wade through porn land without no virus infection.  Where’s a Windblows user!?  Time for disinfection!  Shuffle the sectors, pretty boy!  I’ll keep playing with my toy story.  Don’t have no time for you, Microsoft prisoner.  I’ve been hearing what you’re saying.  I’m a real good lisoner.  Come to place.  Let me show you how to smile.  I got a Mac SE monument ready to sing.  Let me show you quickly how to think.  Your PC is a shame.  Your Windblows stinks!  That’s a rap! A bit of Apple cider.  What’s that crawling in your PC?  A trojan spider?



    POWERSHAKER had this to say on Dec 25, 2007 Posts: 1
  • Um. The comment is longer than the article.

    Mr Roberto had this to say on Dec 26, 2007 Posts: 10
  • Unfortunately, If you are an IT manager in a big company, you won’t get fired for buying the 2008 version of IBM, Windows/Dell.

    flyboy had this to say on Dec 30, 2007 Posts: 30
  • Unfortunately, If you are an IT manager in a big company, you won’t get fired for buying the 2008 version of IBM, Windows/Dell.

    So in your ideal world, people would get FIRED for buying Dell or Windows?

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Dec 30, 2007 Posts: 2220
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