Relax, Android Ascendance Was Inevitable

Posted on April 5, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Mobile, Windows, Windows 10 with 101 Comments

Relax, Android Ascendance Was Inevitable

There’s been a lot of hand-wringing in the Microsoft fan base thanks to a recent report about Android usage outstripping that of Windows. Guys, relax. This transition was inevitable. And Microsoft has been planning for this day for years.

I’ve written and spoken a lot about the transition from traditional PCs to more mobile device form factors. And about how Windows long ago fell from its dominant role thanks to this transition: Today, mobile devices like smartphones and tablets account for a much bigger percentage of personal technology usage and sales than do PCs. And the dominant mobile platform, of course, is Android.

This transition explains Microsoft’s “mobile first, cloud first” strategy. And while the firm has too many toes in the water these days, so to speak, I feel that it’s future as a major force in cloud computing is very clear. Everything else it is doing today—yes, including Windows—is on the way out. No, not immediately. But that is the trend.

And, seriously, think about it. Think about what Microsoft is doing in Windows 10 today, and try to imagine how any of it could ever possibly result in more usage, or more sales, or a bigger overall market. It’s not possible. This product is really in maintenance mode, and all Microsoft can really do is make it better for the audience of users who do use and rely on it every day. And slow, maybe, what is an inevitable decline.

Android, meanwhile, is still ascendant. It isn’t just a bigger target for app developers and users, it’s expanding into new form factors and device types too. And it will see growth, directly, at Windows’ expense. New Chromebooks that can run Android apps and current and future Android hybrids like the (admittedly lackluster) Pixel C will continue to chip away. Just as the company’s G Suite apps and services chip away at other Microsoft businesses.

Today, the Microsoft fan can take solace in this: Windows remains a more powerful and full-featured productivity environment for those people who need to get real work done. The doers. The—I know—creators. And Android, while improving steadily, has a long way to go. Will that change over time? Sure. But today is not that day.

But whether you believe Android “surpassing” Windows has already happened or not—I don’t actually trust StatCounter data, sorry—it is going to happen. This year. Soon. But then it always was. So give your hands a rest and get on with your life. Nothing has changed.


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Comments (101)

101 responses to “Relax, Android Ascendance Was Inevitable”

  1. mtsmedly

    So what then is Microsoft's plan to not just become another data center company? Or is that the plan?

    Is there any plan that you can see for the company to recapture the consumer's (regular Jane/Joe) mind and market share?

    If Windows can't be the mobile platform for the world going forward, why do I care about Office 365 then when I grew up with GSuite? Why do I care about Skype (I know, bad example given it's state) when I grew up with iMessage and FaceTime? Why do I care about getting an Xbox from a company that makes enterprise productivity software?

    This is the bigger problem I feel Microsoft faces. Yes, they knew this day would come, I did too. But their attempts to stall this day or shift to be able to remain relevant in the discussion around consumer hardware/software seems laughable at best, especially in the mobile space.

    • Vuppe

      In reply to mtsmedly:

      Microsoft is trying to work on the next big thing to be relevant to consumers. They have more ambition and ability than IBM in that respect. If they fail, yes, they'll be IBM all over again.

    • Paul Thurrott

      In reply to mtsmedly:

      Why would that be an OK plan? No, seriously.

      Microsoft has never done the consumer market well. They never will.

      • Tony Barrett

        In reply to Paul Thurrott:

        That is very true. Microsoft's consumer ambitions have always been very half-hearted. Sort of there, but not fully onboard. The Enterprise is where MS have always focused and that's where a huge percentage of their revenue still comes from. In-fact, when MS (unofficially) pulled out of consumer mobile, where did they refocus on? Yes, back to their ever reliable, ever obedient cash cow - the Enterprise.

        • mebby

          In reply to Tony Barrett: Agreed. I think many think that MS, through arrogance and incompetence failed in the consumer market, but it seems they act like they only lost a minor, secondary market.
          Though by not having a viable mobile OS used by Enterprise consumers, seems like they will be less likely to fend off the Google/Apple/etc. eroding their market share of their cash cow.

  2. dcdevito

    A ton of MSFT fans' doubts rein supreme I see. Simpler and easier (mobile) computing is on the rise. I agree with Paul, no surprises here.

  3. Jorge Garcia

    ...And folks, let's not forget about that trojan horse that is Samsung DeX (True Desktop Android). All the tech sites are missing the forest for the trees with this huge development. DeX is not JUST about this silly dock's about the fact that Samsung has clearly invested considerable resources into making an Android-based OS that actually runs the exact way a millenial would want/expect it to in a true desktop/laptop mode. This is something Google should have done to Android 3 years ago, but decided to go astray and focus on ChromeOS instead. Even after Google is done hacking Android apps onto ChromeOS, it simply won't be as elegant and adult-looking as what Samsung's engineers have managed here. Samsung DeX is what those engineers at PARC dreamed of in the early 70's - a perfectly user/consumer friendly, windowed GUI that actually HAS all the apps anybody could ask for on day one. Snapchat, anyone? Sure, most apps will open in a vertical "phone" configuration, but the average consumer will not care too much, because the important thing will be that the app is THERE and USABLE. You can't say that about Windows. Samsung DeX is the WINDOWS OS that 90% of people ACTUALLY want in 2017, not Microsoft's x86, win32, .dll, .exe, dinosaur platform which, while good for business and certain "heavy-duty" apps, is NOT the consumer-friendly app-laden platform that ANDROID currently is. If Samsung starts making laptops that come pre-loaded with DeX OS instead of Windows, then THAT is the product I will be recommending to family and friends who are tired of two-click-away from disaster Windows PC's. Microsoft should be really worried about this development, if you ask me, and if I am HP, I start making my own Android-based OS as well. The DeX docking station for the S8 may or may not be a gimmick, but the software behind it sure as hell isn't.

    • jrickel96

      In reply to Jorge Garcia:

      The Galaxy S7 makes up just 1.6% of all Android marketshare and each subsequent version of the Galaxy seems to do worse in sales than the prior version.

      So Samsung will sell maybe 20-25 million S8s. How many people will then buy a $150 dock? Maybe 20% at most? Probably 10% or less. So you're talking about 2 million to 5 million users of DeX TOPS. Windows Phone was bigger.

      DeX is a dead platform at launch. Like Android tablets, it'll get very few optimized apps and like most of what Samsung does, they'll abandon it in a year.

      • Jorge Garcia

        In reply to jrickel96: I couldn't disagree more. Honda and Toyota underestimated Hyundai, now they lose a good chunk of their sales to them. DeX is just the first shot across the bow. Sure, it's just a phone-specific gimmick now, but it won't remain there. Making a windowed desktop interface like that isn't a random decision and ain't easy to execute elegantly, but they've just done it. Maybe this version of DeX will wither on the vine (I really doubt it), but the idea itself will continue to be worked on. Samsung is not content to be a hardware manuf., Samsung wants to be the ubiquitous provider of ALL your computing needs, JUST LIKE APPLE. People scoffed at the first "me-too" Galaxy from the silly Korean company, but now Samsung leads Apple in smartphone innovation, and the S8 is literally the phone to beat. If they start releasing quality laptops, PC's and HDMI sticks that run their own desktop UI instead of Windows, it will eventually take hold, as 90% of people can get all their computing needs satisfied by Android.

        • jrickel96

          In reply to Jorge Garcia:

          Honda and Toyota have lost little to Hyundai. Hyundai benefits from an expanded market, but Honda still does quite well. The CR-V is on pace to be the top seller in the US and their global sales have increased.

          I would not underestimate DeX, but the comparison isn't a good one. Hyundai was going to make cars regardless. Samsung is expanding into unfamiliar territory with having to manage a desktop experience. They don't do that for their laptops - Windows makes up the bulk of those sales. Samsung may not stick out very small volume.

          The S8 will be a minor blip just like the S7. NO ONE BUYS HIGH END GALAXY PHONES. Not really no one, but they are such a small blip on the radar.

          You know what the most used handset is right now? The Galaxy Core Prime. Second most? Galaxy J7. There are more Galaxy S5s in use than S7s and each subsequent Galaxy S series sells less than the prior version, even if you look at screen size variants.

          Most all of what Samsung does in mid or low range with much smaller profit margins. And even if the S8 is the phone to beat, the next iPhone will destroy it in sales.

          Android is a dead platform. It's going nowhere. It is severely fragmented. 15% of Android users are still on KitKat. About 70% of Android users are on KitKat, Jelly Bean, or Lollipop. Less than 3% are on Nougat a year after release.

          And will Samsung abandon users like it does on the Android phones? A year later and FINALLY the unlocked Galaxy Tabs are getting Nougat. How long will they get security updates for?

          If Samsung wants to take over Desktop, they will need to make sure they get security patches out regularly. They will need to find a way around carriers. They will need to support products for longer than a single year. Those are things Microsoft DOES for them in the PC space.

          Unless Android gets a lot more unified, it is going nowhere. Very few Android users use premium phones. Most of them HATE Android and use it only because iOS is the only other choice.

          Android is a placeholder. It'll be around for awhile, but its decay and death is inevitable. This fragmented and messy ecosystem will collapse at some point. The apps are mostly terrible written and optimized. It's just a mess and Samsung can't fix it.

          That's why they HOPED to move on with Tizen, but that has problems too.

          And the tech people may love the S8, but I work with average users. They all yawned at it. The one thing they liked about it was that it would make the S7 cheaper.

          So maybe the S8 will become THE premium Android phone - on 3 years when it's cheaper.

          With massive security concerns, no one is trusting Android. And there are some industries that cannot. Government and medicine can't use it because it can't handle the security. Samsung can't pass must with HIPAA laws. I have family in medicine and all mobile devices with patient information MUST be either Windows or iOS. Android is too insecure to trust it with ANY patient data.

          Google ran into that as well when they tried to sell Google Docs, etc to the largest medical provider in the area. No HIPAA compliance. Security was a BIG issue.

          Samsung can dream as much as it wants, but even that isn't the biggest of deals to it. Samsung has a lot of other things it does. If it loses the phone market, it has a lot of other areas where it makes money.

          • Jorge Garcia

            In reply to jrickel96: Everything you say is factual, but I feel you focus mostly on points that are relevant today, but that miss the big picture. Until I see evidence to the contrary, I am not changing my assertion that, regardless of how "dead" Android is, it is now the World's default OS, and it will be for at least a decade to come. Beta was better than VHS, but once the CONTENT went to VHS there was no going back to Betamax. Android has the apps people want, and if mighty Microsoft can't even make developers develop for their own Mobile OS (which IMO is indeed superior to Android, sadly) then who the heck will overtake Android (worldwide)? Elon Musk OS? Bezos OS (*cough* firephone?) Android is the turd that floated to the top - because of its openess - as almost always happens. For something better and more secure than Android to replace it, that OS had better run Android apps via emulation or something, because we all saw what happened to Blackberry, Nokia and Microsoft - no apps. I also don't change my assertion that Samsung is intent on being everything to everybody in the electronics/computing world. You keep focusing on the Samsung of today, but I'm focusing on the Samsung I think will exist in 15 years and onward. Rewind the clock 15 years...which "normal" people even heard of Samsung back then? Now they make their own (Credible to downright excellent) versions of most every apparatus in your home. Knowing what they want, and how they have the means and motivation to undercut and outperform many other companies...I continue to believe strongly that they are going to be more present in people's homes than Apple could every dream of being. I think that only Google has a chance to beat them, long-term, but they probably will not care enough to compete in all the niches that Samsung is definitely going to try and dominate.
    • Waethorn

      In reply to Jorge Garcia:

      Dex is just Samsung's middle-ware. When a new Galaxy S-series phone comes out, they'll change something and previous versions won't be updated. This is what Samsung does. Nothing is standardized across product versions and software is locked to a unique hardware revision. The software is a one-off for every version phone. When they switch to Tizen, users will be left in the lurch.

      Also, Samsung's code quality is sh*t. Samsung is GAHBAGE. Beautiful hardware crippled with defective and obsolete software.

      • Jorge Garcia

        In reply to Waethorn: Furthermore, at it's core, isn't Windows just middle-ware as well? All it is is an app launcher to get to your .exe's, really. I think it's time for Microsoft to bite yet another bullet and simply rely on the "Windows" brand moving forward, not the dinosaur software itself. They should make their own version of skinned-Android that looks and feels just like Windows 10, but isn't. "Windows 10-A".

        • Waethorn

          In reply to Jorge Garcia:

          Windows isn't middle-ware. The crap they bundle into it is. If you want a clean Windows install, you'll be using LTSB. It's radically different from your existing build as it has absolutely no UWP store or apps. Just a clean OS with a few of the old classic Win32 accessories.

          • Jorge Garcia

            In reply to Waethorn: What does Windows do? It's a desktop-oriented GUI that launches .exe's.
            What does DeX do? It's a desktop-oriented GUI that launches .apk's. They are both app launchers, nothing more. Which one is better? (To regular folks,not us, that is) It's the one that launches the apps they are used to, aka the ones they use on their phones every single day. If you think Samsung made DeX just to use it as a gimmick solely for the S8, then you don't understand near-nationalized South Korean businesses like Samsung. It is always about the long-term. Samsung does not enjoy using "western" software on their hardware, and they will flex their hardware muscle until they can dominate both.

      • Jorge Garcia

        In reply to Waethorn: I can't fully disagree, but I will say that judging Samsung's 2017 software by their past software could be a very unwise move. Hyundai's cars started off as pure crap, but now they are practically Toyotas in terms of quality. Samsung is more of a nation than a company, and they really dislike playing second fiddle in the electronics market to "American" companies when, after all, they are in control of so many of the manufacturing elements that those same companies now depend on. DeX is a shot across the bow, stating, we don't need no stinkin' outside software to give you a fully functional computer that you will enjoy.
        • Waethorn

          In reply to Jorge Garcia:

          It's a skinned version of Android. What's it called again? TouchSense? Whatever it is, it's crap. Every version phone is a one-off update of TouchSense. The S9 won't operate like an S8, and the S8 technology gimmick will be orphaned.

          Also, Samsung isn't using their own chips in the S8.

  4. glenn8878

    Remember the Ballmer laugh. Ha hahahahahaha ha.

    Sure, its inevitable if you can forget all their bad attempts to try to fix it. They tried to outdo the iPhone when their actual competition was Android. Windows can't be free. It also can't beat the closed ecosystem of iPhones. Just when they finally had the whole hardware manufacturing base of Nokia at their disposal, they dumped it like it was yesterday's news.

    Ha hahahahaha ha. Love their strategy.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to glenn8878:

      MSFT wanted Apple's iPhone/Store revenue stream BAD. That explains the focus. So MSFT joined Apple watching Android shoot by.

      The Nokia purchase was desperation mixed with hubris. Ballmer would make an excellent subject for a tragedy (though he may be enjoying being able to spend more time with the Clippers).

  5. wshwe

    People have more use in their daily lives for Android than Windows.

    • wolters

      In reply to wshwe:

      That right there is the answer. Not so much on Android but Android and iOS. Most people I know don't use or need a PC on their daily lives.

      I still shake my head at my daughter's school being ALL Chromebooks. I still don't get it but I can see how and why web based only functions are working for some.

      • Waethorn

        In reply to wolters:

        Simplicity. Simple to use, simple to manage.

      • Jaxidian

        In reply to wolters:

        All Chromebooks *that run Android apps* makes a lot of sense for a lot of people. Chromebooks before that additional feature are just a stepping stone. That huge distinction has accelerated the "Android takeover" of Windows simply because it tackles head-on the biggest weakness of the platform - the fact that you can't do much while disconnected (a problem that in itself is also diminishing in frequency now that most mobile plans offer a significant amount of tethering).

        • Waethorn

          In reply to Jaxidian:

          How much data do you get with a tethered plan? Maybe 5GB on a phone for a reasonable plan? I looked at AT&T and they charge $90USD for 10GB (or a whopping $120CAD! I don't know anybody that pays that kind of money for a modest phone bill). Windows builds are about a 3GB download for 64-bit (most computers are 64-bit nowadays). And then you have general cumulative updates that are hundreds of megs happening every month. Plus app updates. What does that leave you with for regular data? And how fast are uploads for cloud computing?

          And what if you have more than one computer?

  6. Rocwurst

    Interestingly enough, Apple's iOS captured over a third (35%) the share that all Android phones and tablets managed worldwide according to Statcounter. 

    Notice that iOS beat all Android devices in the USA with iOS at 25.7 percent, and Android at 21.2 percent according to StatCounter.

    iOS also doubled Android's share in Australia by a whopping 31.39% to 15.29% - that's only 6% behind Windows.

    iOs also beat Android in the UK with 26.22% to 18.88%.

    In Canada iOS had 25.12% vs 14.81%.

    In Japan, with 21.53%, iOS thrashed Android on a lowly 8.69%.

    Note that NetApplications puts iOS even higher at 53% web browser share of all Android devices worldwide.

    Not bad at all for one manufacturer whose devices come in at 3x - 4x the price of the average cheap plastic Android device.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Rocwurst:

      Re StatCounter vs Netmarketshare, Apple recently announced about 100m Mac users. StatCounter puts worldwide macOS/OS X usage at 11.68% (Mar 2017), which implies about 856m microcomputers in use. Netmarketshare puts worldwide macOS/OS X usage at 6.27% (Mar 2017), which implies 1.59b microcomputers in use. The latter is much closer to consensus belief about total microcomputers in use.

      IOW, there's reason to suspect the accuracy of StatCounter's OS metrics.

  7. toshdellapenna

    I avoided computing outside of school aside from looking up a few things online, printing something and then disconnecting (it was the 90's and most of us were on dial up). I even avoided computing in college unless necessary because I didn't really care about it. Shortly after leaving college I decided to pick up some parts from a friend and put together a system. I got bit by the bug. Not long after that Dell started marketing the Axim line of pocket pc's. Being a person who was always on the go and more a gadget lover than anything, I sold the recently assembled computer and bought an Axim. Since it had Windows and many of the familiar programs and stuff from my computer I was forever bit by the mobile bug. Since then I've lived in a pure Windows world other than playing around with friends and families ios and android devices. I would eventually make the assessment that the Windows OS is not only my favorite operating system, but my favorite piece of software in general.

    I've always been considered a futurist and was begging for the onecore, one os, uwp strategy since I got that first pocket pc. I've always wanted that 1 Windows device that did everything and fit in my pocket. Right now its a 950xl with various docks for connectivity. Cellular pc's will officially seal the deal for me. If the Windows OS ever went away I'm not sure what i would do as its all I've ever truly used since I got into personal computing. I went Linux only for a while and will never do it again. And I despise apple for many reasons, including their ux.

  8. brettscoast

    Microsoft's reliance on the windowsoffice cashcow over many years saw it lose it's focus on mobile completely and the result is what we have now that the android platform is dominant and will continue that way going forward. The release of the iphone should have come as a stark wake up call to Microsoft which it seemingly ignored to it's own detriment and that of it's mobile user base. Some informed and intelligent comments in this thread and i have enjoyed reading them all.

    • toshdellapenna

      In reply to brettscoast:

      I read an interview with Bill Gates back in 2009 when WinMo was still in. He was already talking about a solution similar to what would become the HP Desk Dock. It was verbatim what it is today, except that I can't remember if Windows mobile was going to be tailored much like it is today, where its another edition of Windows, or if it was going to gain win32 support and become what's on the horizon. Either way it was a good read and just shows you how dropping Windows mobile in favor on Windows Phone really hurt them.

      They honestly should have developed Windows Phone as a replacementfor the smartphone edition of windows mobile and kept going with the pocket pc versions of the OS. It's crazy to think what could have been...

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to brettscoast:

      MSFT's foray into mobile was premised on Windows 8 getting PC users to use their PCs like phones. It was an abject failure, and it caused more than a little angst at MSFT because it started to drive off Windows PC users. But the worst thing to come from Windows Phone/Windows 8.x was the realization that MSFT position in the PC market meant NOTHING in mobile.

    • skane2600

      In reply to brettscoast:

      Microsoft didn't think of the finger-touch approach that Apple used for the iPhone and was slow to adopt it for their own products but they were focused on mobile long before Apple was and never really stopped. MS's mistake was to make devices like the pocket PC too closely mimic the UI of normal Windows with scroll bars etc. Windows 8 had the same problem in reverse - they tried to make their non-mobile OS more like what they imagined a mobile device would need. IMO, the second smartest thing Apple did with the iPhone (the first being the finger-touch interface) was to make its OS independent of their desktop OS.

  9. Jorge Garcia

    Ok, I'm ready for the hate, but I think it's time for Microsoft to raise the white flag and simply rely on the "Windows" brand moving forward, not the actual dinosaur software itself. They should make their own version of skinned-Android that looks and feels just like the Windows 10 desktop, but isn't under the hood. "Windows 10-A" :). Yes it would be like RT all over again, except THIS TIME almost any sin can be forgiven once you enter the Google Play Store and realize the sky is the limit as far as App options, assuming you're not a "Win32 heavy-lifter" (and most individuals aren't these days). Would Google even allow it? Probably not, as it would keep MS Windows around even longer. Millennials are simply not going to buy-in to Windows the way we did - once Desktop Android becomes a viable choice that is - and it's because Windows doesn't do half the things they want it to do, and barring some miracle, won't. And what it DOES do, often feels too clunky to them compared to the what they are used to in mobile. I have tried a million times to explain to people under twenty why "double-click" HAS TO exist on a "real" PC, and their eyes glaze over every time. To them, double-click is just anachronistic annoyance!

    • truerock

      In reply to Jorge Garcia:


      You are absolutely correct - and Apple agrees with the premise of your strategy.

      The Android flavor of Unix has some serious market entrenchment and would be a great way for Microsoft to get started on a better long-term strategy.

      One problem: note how Samsung is trying unsuccessfully to pivot from Android. In many peoples minds pure unadulterated Android is a huge plus. If Samsung started putting Android in their smart-TVs instead of whatever abomination of an OS they are currently using - Samsung would have a far superior product - but, it would further put them under the control of Google.

      This is what Bill Gates would do:

      Sell Microsoft Android smartphones and include Microsoft Office for free.

      Give away Microsoft Android with built-in Office for free to other smartphone manufacturers.

      Of course Microsoft can't do that in 2017 because Microsoft has to worry about next quarter's financial reports to its stockholders.

  10. illuminated

    Well Microsoft mobile strategy is kind of dead at the moment and we all can find reasons why this happened starting from slow updates, app problems and ending with bathroom stall height. Domination in mobile is hard. Let's see how many corpses we have: Symbian, Maemo, Moblin, Meego, Bada, Blackberry, WebOS, Ubuntu Touch, old Windows Mobile, Windows Phone, Amazon Fire Phone, FireFox Phone.

    So let's just keep this in perspective. Microsoft was not the only failure. They have a lot of loser friends.

  11. jwillis84

    Microsoft started as a language business, remember BASIC ? It also started as a driver company, remember DOS ? What built the company was the customers, hobbyist and hackers who tinkered and needed a platform. Third party apps emerged on DOS (Lotus 1-2-3, Wordstar) and in spite of itself it raked in the money. Then the IBM PC and Apple Macintosh came along and built a stable hardware consumer for the languages and driver products Microsoft nominimally sold. When Microsoft got big enough it bought Third party apps to cobble together an office suite (3 or 4 was the magic bundling number). -- The Mobile revolution has eerily paralleled Microsofts history, Apple just repeated the Microsoft story and Microsoft.. feeling secure, spent a lot of money on not very smart people who made a lot of sales people feel smart. -- the problem with Microsoft is.. there is no problem.. it was never what it thought it was.. a lucky company, that ran out of luck. Its not like they are going to turn that around. (You can't beat free, and that includes "free" Third party developers and the interest in using your development tools and products.. they will always come up with clever innovative ideas you never thought of.. you can't put a pile of money in a corner and make it magically "grow" itself.. or pay someone to go from Harvard to be Einstein.. it doesn't exactly work that way.) The whole idea money can force innovation.. or "more" money would make Steve Jobs a good manager or a bonus would help make him a more creative person.. is at best a strange idea. The most likely place the next revolution will come from is probably the Makr community tinkering with seemingly low powered rasberry pi's or three dimensional printing. Laugh at netbooks if you like.. but Steve Balmer laughed at the iPhone.. being a deprecating bellicose wind bag.. doesn't change the way things actually do tend to work. They have a way of flying under your radar and surprising you.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to jwillis84:

      Picky: MS-DOS was a single user, single tasking OS, and MSFT didn't acquire QDOS until the early 1980s, years after it had started off selling BASIC. 3rd Party apps started off more under CP/M than MS-DOS. I don't recall whether WordStar was available for CP/M, but VisiCalc and SuperCalc were available for CP/M. Lotus 1-2-3 beat out VisiCalc and SuperCalc because 1-2-3 provided rudimentary database and graphics functionality the others lacked in the early 1980s. IOW, it was the applications which drove MS-DOS/PC-DOS adoption back then. As for MSFT Office, Excel and Word were home grown, don't recall the origins of PowerPoint and Outlook.

      MSFT was definitely lucky in the 1980s and 1990s, more due to the stupidity of its competitors back then. The possibly embellished story of Kildall flying his plane when IBM came to call, Lotus and WordPerfect spending far more corporate money and attention on protecting their character mode UIs than on porting their applications to Windows, all the 'partners' who joined with MSFT and found out that MSFT 'partners' got sucked dry then discarded.

      Then came 2001. All the pesky competitors vanquished, a new Republican POTUS who didn't press to have MSFT broken up into multiple companies, and Longhorn, the vision for Windows of the Future which became a tar pit, just as Gates was reducing his involvement and paying less attention.

      MSFT got into the habit of coasting through the early 2000s. When 2007 hit, Vista had gained a reputation as a steaming pile of dog vomit, the Office ribbon was annoying long-term users, and Windows Mobile was a PocketPC OS which could handle phone calls. The real question is whether Ballmer was the best CEO for MSFT immediately post-iPhone. An argument could be made for NO, and that doesn't involve luck.

  12. derekaw

    This has been the best and most interesting comment thread ever! Lots of interesting, thoughtful and respectful opinions. Thanks everyone.

  13. Mark from CO


    I can't believe the revisionist history here.  Android's ascendancy was preordained?  Come on. That a second mobile OS was preordained to rise with iOS, yes, but not necessarily Android.  Microsoft was much better positioned to be that second OS than Google.  Blackberry and perhaps (a stretch) WebOS were also better positioned than Android. 

    It was Microsoft's colossal strategic and tactical (glacier speed) blunders that opened the door for Google.  Microsoft, as we look back, had no clue of the sea change going on, worse than their near-catastrophic blunder of not embracing the internet.

    I also believe you vastly underestimate the magnitude of Microsoft's mobile mistakes and their effect on the company's Cloud First/Mobile First strategy.   The common wisdom is Microsoft is in a strong #2 position in the cloud.  If so, why do they refuse to release real sales/market numbers? Perhaps its because Google and IBM are not that far behind.  Even if common wisdom is correct, I'm not sure it is correctly factoring in the fact that Microsoft has no mobile play and, as a result, it's real world strategy is just cloud first.

    All the pundits, including yourself, tell us of the miracle of the cloud and machine learning, and how well positioned Microsoft is to benefit.  Is it really?  From what I read, the real magic in cloud/machine learning comes from the flow of data that feeds the analytics.  Just where will this data flow come from?  Again from what I read, the most massive amount of data will flow in from consumers.  With Microsoft having no consumer mobile play, their cloud efforts start out at a huge, huge competitive disadvantage vis a vis Google or Apple or Amazon.  In part, that was why the 1 million W10 deployments (target date now gone with perhaps half the expected penetration) was so important.  And don't tell me about all the data flow that will come from all those Microsoft cross platform apps.  They will only represent a relatively small percentage of Android and iOS usage.  Together they will not make up the huge volume differential that Google and iOS enjoy.  And this doesn't even consider all the data flow from all those other Google Play and iOS apps that Microsoft doesn't have.  Consequenlty, there is a real probability that Microsoft's cloud/machine language efforts will be perceived as not as good as Google or Amazon, and perhaps Apple (if it gets its act together).  Why? Microsoft will not have the same quantity or quality of data as its competitors to feed its analytics.  The results - something like the perceived difference in quality between Bing and Google search results.  You can say the business market will make up the difference.  But the nature and size of the information flow is different, and it is a market that Google and Apple can attack because they rule mobile.

    Perhaps Microsoft will settle into a size and niche that is nicely profitable (aka IBM).  But unless Apple or Google or Amazon stumble with a similar size strategic blunder,  Microsoft will not regain its influence or importance.  Its cloud future seems to me to be a company that, if anything is preordained, provides infrastructure services and support.   Really sexy in comparison to what Microsoft was.

    Mark from CO


    • nbplopes

      In reply to Mark from CO:

      The error of MS comes prior to the happening of the iPhone. The iPhone came so much ahead of the pack and with such speed that left everything behind for some reason, so much so that it looked incredible. This was not just a merit of Apple but also a byproduct of the tech world as it was. It totally defied that world and kept on doing it year in year out for more than half a decade.

      The consumer reaction to MS re-entrance on mobile was an unconscious reaction to how things were, the consumer wanted change and quite right MS was definitely not the champion for such change. There is nothing MS could do about it. Nothing.

      • Mark from CO

        In reply to nbplopes:  Don't disagree about the iPhone, but your point about Microsoft is exactly the broader point I made.  Microsoft screwed up their entry, reentry and re-reentry into the mobile space.  They did not understand the consumer market, and therefore did not provide consumers what they wanted.  This is a strategic and tactical fail at all levels.  You are right that the approach the company took was antithetical to being the champion the consumer wanted.  But it did not have to happen this way.  There was plenty Microsoft could have done, but was blind and unable to do it.  By saying Microsoft could do nothing about it, lets everyone off the hook for the mistakes they made.
        Mark from CO

        • nbplopes

          In reply to Mark from CO:

          My point was that like you, many times I also think that MS is better positioned to make many many things happen. But somehow it does not seam to even try, its all for Windows to Windows and people seam to be left behind. For instance, people need and want a robust and solid Windows experience in the laptop and desktop form, what better place to do it than in their Surface line? But what they have done is precisely the opposite. Yes the Surface line probably improved the people's perception of Windows 10 and what they could do with it, but in my experience with it, people are left behind once again. This is just an example. The epítome of this thinking was Windows 8 and it backfired, so was Surface 1 and Surface 2.

          Sometimes I think they even though it is indeed the greatest software maker on the Planet, other may be ahead technologically, several years ahead. The reason why MS reacted so lately is due to many things, but one of them is for sure the fact that they did not have the technology to do it or had the experience to do it.

          No matter how many people you have, experience takes time to develop and needs focus. But MS has so many interests across the IT space that a lot of things are a compromise not mandated by the market but the by the way it deals with it internally.

          As for Google and Android I don't think its a certain. One of the difficulties of moving Android ahead is fragmentation. Not hardware fragmentation but OS fragmentation. This Galaxy S8 is pushing that fragmentation ahead and that benefits MS interests as it makes Android weaker to move to the next phase. What will companies do? Buy everything from Samsung? It may happen but its much harder, at least in western countries. That will give more time to MS, and might eventually benefit MS Continuum regardless if I think that its a bad idea.

          • nbplopes

            In reply to nbplopes:

            There is more in this MS support to Samsung Galaxy S8 than contracts or promoting its services. Its in their interest that this phones sells so, so well as it can fragment the OS. At least force Google redefine its Chromebook strategy hence slowing down by brining uncertainty.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Mark from CO:

      MSFT was better positioned how? Windows Mobile 6.x was an OS for Pocket PCs which could also make phone calls. Windows Phone 7 was a smartphone OS without apps.

      Where MSFT failed most spectacularly was believing it could command an Apple Store cut of app revenues from the start rather than learning from its own history in the early 1990s that sometimes it helps to compete on price when entering new markets.

      As for MSFT's nonconsumer business, FY2017Q2 financial statements show More Personal Computing revenues decreasing YoY, but the other two divisions show revenues increasing a bit more than 10% YoY. Maybe MSFT could have done better, but their business-focused divisions are growing.

      I figure as long as MSFT makes it Surface line and Xbox, it'll maintain a presence in consumer markets, but clearly MSFT's focus is now settled on their enterprise customers.

      Given the margins now becoming customary in consumer computing, would MSFT really be much interested in it?

      • Mark from CO

        In reply to hrlngrv: You may be right about the enterprise business.  I also noted that Microsoft may well end up with a nice and profitable enterprise business.  But unless their competitors fail, Microsoft will never have the influence or leverage it once had, influence and leverage that Apple, Google, and to some extent Amazon now enjoy.
        We also have to recognize how things have changed in the tech world.  In the 70s, it was business that drove innovation.  How many of our first computer purchases were influenced by what we were using at work?  Now, it is the consumer segment that demands technological innovation, with far too many business still stuck with legacy systems and thinking.  This is the world that Microsoft can still effectively play in.  But let's all be realistic, Microsoft in this pond is a much, much smaller fish than the fish that dominated the business seas only a decade ago.  And a much, much smaller fish than the whales (Apple, Google, Amazon) that now swim in the consumer ocean.
        Mark from CO

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to Mark from CO:

          How many of our first computer purchases were influenced by what we were using at work?

          Dunno about others here, but I bought my first PC in grad school in the mid 1980s before my first real job. Supplemented it over the next 5 years, winding up spending about as much on it as I did for my first car.

          MSFT didn't cease being consumer-focused company. Rather, it changed its consumer focus from PCs and consumer PC software to Xbox. MSFT discarded Flight Simulator, Entertainment Packs, Bob, Quick* hobbyist programming packages, and various other stuff to concentrate on Windows, Office and server-based software. As long as home users were buying PCs with Windows preinstalled, MSFT was happy to sell them Office as well, but no other MSFT software titles for consumers.

          In a way, MSFT is the crabs around the periphery of the consumer computing ocean, living off the detritus which washes up (Windows Home licenses, Office 365 Home and Personal subscriptions) and maybe some fishhawks (Xbox). No threat to the whales, but neither threatened by the whales of consumer space.

        • Rocwurst

          In reply to hrlngrv: "In the 70s, it was business that drove innovation.  How many of our first computer purchases were influenced by what we were using at work?  Now, it is the consumer segment that demands technological innovation, with far too many business still stuck with legacy systems and thinking."

          This is very true Mark. The Business PC market makes up an ever smaller percentage of the total PC market making up only 15% of total worldwide PC sales, far smaller a percentage than back in 2000 when it represented 60% of all PC sales according to Goldman Sachs. 

      • Rocwurst

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        Frankly, the App Store issue was a minor farce among many other bigger problems hringrv.

        Microsoft stabbed their phone user base in the back and shot themselves in the foot again and again with incompatible non-upgradeable generations of Windows CE, Windows Mobile 6.5, Pocket PC, UMPC, the Kin phone, Windows phone 7, 8 and 10, Windows RT and Metro. Who would dare chance that fate yet again?  

        I used to be a big Windows Mobile user going through a big 3.5" screen O2 XDA II and an O2 XDA Mini PDA phone until the absolute farce of a phone that wiped ALL my user data, apps and settings every time the battery went flat or it crashed and that ridiculous tiny Start Menu on such a small device crushed the life out of any love I had for Microsoft's mobile solutions.

        Microsoft failed spectacularly on too many fronts to mention in the Mobile space.

  14. Waethorn

    Wow. This is NOT an April Fool's Day joke either:

    Not entirely surprising though. Mir never got industry support from hardware companies - they didn't see the point to have yet another open-source-required window manager. I think Canonical is going to give up on desktop Linux sometime in the near future though and focus on cloud and server computing and leave desktops to others. I think they'll realize that GNOME and GTK+ are terrible interfaces to customize, and they won't be able to put their adware in the way they want. It's a shame too, because Ubuntu is looked at as having the best hardware support of any Linux distro, making it the best desktop Linux option around. Qt is a safer bet. Too bad they didn't think to use it while they were working on Unity 8. Unity 8 was going to be their phone and tablet saviour by way of their DPI-aware UX model, Convergence.

    Literally, in this case, Convergence is dead.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Waethorn:

      What a place for a Linux discussion!

      Canonical/Ubuntu has had a problem for years: Mac envy. I don't recall whether it was 12.04 (Lucid) or earlier when they shifted default min/max/close window buttons to the top-left. Then Unity tried to impose a single menu bar in the main panel. They bet that non-Mac users wanted to use Macs. They were wrong.

      Anyway, looks like Linux Mint may have a big problem if Canonical decides it no longer needs to provide Ubuntu repositories when 18.04 reaches EOS.

      • Waethorn

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        Having control buttons at the top left is nothing new. Microsoft had it that way in early versions of Windows. X11 was like that too.

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to Waethorn:

          Try finding an image anywhere showing any Windows version with min/max/close buttons in the top-left corner. Those buttons first appeared in Windows 95, and they were in the upper-right corner. Windows 2 and 3.x had only min and max/restore buttons, and they were in the upper-right corner too. All Windows versions have had a button for the window menu in the upper-left corner.

          As for ancient X Windows, I suppose it depends on the vendor, but 20-odd years ago I only used AIX, which looked like Button layout similar to Windows 3.x.

  15. skane2600

    As been pointed out many times before, it's a bit of an Apples and Oranges comparison. Whether an application runs locally or in the cloud, the device used to run or access the application has always mattered and it always will. Human architecture is fixed for the foreseeable future, so form factors matter.

  16. Ugur

    There will of course be more Android devices than Windows ones, but Windows is not going away anytime soon, if ever.

    (If it ever goes away another productivity/creation focused OS will take it's position or one of the mobile OS will have evolved to that level)

    MS has nothing attractive as phone offering right now, so the places they can target to compete are desktops/all in ones, laptops and tablets/convertibles.

    I'd actually consider using a surface pro more often than an android tablet if MS would improve the usability of windows massively. stop wasting all that time on UWP push while your app store is in abysmal state anyway and better improve the usability of windows.

    if something basic is finnicky to do on windows, you're doing it wrong MS.

    if in 017 you still haven't figured out when i press an input field with my finger it should automatically bring up the onscreen keyboard, yeah, you still didn't get the memo in usability.

    I could go on an on, but yeah, MS biggest chance is basically still against tablets with a surface pro but with much better usability.

    We don't want cut down metro only apps windows rt and surface rt.

    what would instead have a place would be a surface pro and full windows but windows improved on all ends which are unintuitive and cumbersome and finnicky and buggy to use.

    Note: i use android, ios, windows and macOS devices daily, only moaning about the windows issues now since, well, the topic is that here =)

  17. david.thunderbird

    A rose by another name smells just as sweet, Linux by another name is Android. Don't chokeup or spit take on that beverage.

    • Paul Thurrott

      In reply to david.thunderbird:

      If Linux was so great, they wouldn't have changed it so much to make Android. All it is, is the base of Linux. Android is successful despite being based on Linux, not because of it.

      • VancouverNinja

        In reply to Paul Thurrott:

        Android is only successful due to the void Microsoft left vs iOS. Android was (is?) arguably the worst mobile OS of the three of them, yet they seized on the opportunity out of fear that Microsoft or Apple would control the consumer access to the search engine. This fear was far greater than Microsoft's drive to succeed in the segment due to their complacency.

        What other viable platform was there for the consumer, next to iOS, that was openly available to any phone manufacturer that wanted to compete with Apple? They had to work hard to do it but it was almost a win by default and not due to the greatness of the Android OS.

  18. RobertJasiek

    Several years before Android started, I wished competition for Windows so that Windows would become better. You know, the age when Windows was still a can of worms and Gates fighting the broswer war on court. Android was the last thing I imagined and hoped for: the perfect model for the race to the bottom of quality in all its glorious absense. Sure enough, after Longhorn, Vista, and Windows 7 established security, Microsoft was infected by the spirit of Android, Google, Facebook and Twitter: fight against your customers by taking their (meta-)data, abandon quality and join the race to the bottom. Although Microsoft is slow in its way down, that is its current direction. Android has become the model. It should be the model of the opposite: perfect quality for the sake of the customers as the basis of renewed commercial success. They could learn with Longhorn. Will they ever learn from their own history again? The alternative is too obvious: IBM, the second. A gigant nobody cares it still exists.

  19. Eric Jutrzenka

    Great article! Sun Microsystems' grand vision of the Network is the Computer is starting to take shape and Microsoft have been doing a good job with Azure and Office365 of embracing that and positioning themselves to succeed. That's why they've embraced android and ios, because one day the particular client OS a device uses will be much less relevant. The new platform will be the integrated services that knit all those devices together. Apple has been making the same moves by trying to replace google maps and other services with their own. Google realize it - that's why they're giving android away. Amazon has known it all along.

    • skane2600

      In reply to Eric Jutrzenka:

      Sun's vision was really about having somewhat dumb workstations connected to a centralized server made by guess who? Except for the idea of not running applications directly on the workstation, Sun's vision was the antithesis of cloud computing.

      • Eric Jutrzenka

        In reply to skane2600:

        Sun did have a thin client product. But their 'utility computing' strategy was much broader and diverse. It also encompassed Java ME running on mobile devices and not just phones. They envisaged refrigerators, sensors all sorts of things. It also included infrastructure as a service. It was premature and ultimately they failed to execute. They were slow to embrace Intel/Linux and never really had a strategy around services. You're right to point out the focus was too much on hardware.

  20. Waethorn

    "The doers. The—I know—creators."

    You stole that bit from Lenovo.

  21. ErichK

    We never thought we'd be doing word-processing and running Word on phones and tablets, yes I know. Thing is, I'm just wondering how I'm going to run Pro Tools on Android. Could happen I guess, if Android evolves into the same state that Windows is in right now. But you see my point, I hope. :-)

  22. Lateef Alabi-Oki

    What is unsettling for the Microsoft fanboys is how Google seemingly unraveled Microsoft as the dominant computing platform on the planet.

    Google turned Microsoft's playbook upside down and forced their hand in so many ways. Think about it. Microsoft was forced to adopt open source philosophy. Forced to give away its OS for free. Forced to take mobile seriously. Forced to adopt the cloud. Forced to embrace platforms other than Windows, and so on.

    Don't get it twisted. Microsoft did neither of this willingly. They did this, exclusively, because of pressure from Google.

    Meanwhile, Google, through cunning, patience and persistence, has now set itself up as the king of the computing platforms of the future via Android and the Web.

    Android is a far more open, flexible, customizable, versatile, and scalable operating system than Windows is, or will ever be. So it's popularity for mobile, IoT and embedded development will only continue to gain momentum. And for larger computing form factors (tablets, laptops, and workstations), the combination of Chrome OS and Android is still vastly untapped potential that can do even more damage to Microsoft.

    As for the web, well that's always been Google's playground. Google from the get go placed all its bets on the Web. While most of its competition bet on native. Today, it's clear that the Web is the future computing. And aside from now owning the most dominate OS, Google pretty much has the most dominant and popular web services that matter (Google Chrome, Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube, Search, etc).

    This is what is unsettling for the Microsoft fans. Google had a singular objective to make Windows irrelevant. Windows today is irrelevant. Its only relevance lies in proprietary services, legacy apps, and legacy workflows.

    As a developer, I can't remember the last time I cared if any of my projects ran on any Microsoft platform or product. It used to be that I had to add a wrapper for IE, or a cross-compiler shim for Windows. Today, for most developers, it's all about Android, iOS, and the Web. And that's in large part courtesy of Google.

    And for us, free software and open source fanboys, we are just glad that open source, open standards, and the open web finally won. Thanks, Google!

    • Hifihedgehog

      In reply to Lateef Alabi-Oki:

      I was nice....

      Evidently, you have not truly dealt with normal everyday users in the real world who are exploited on a very regular basis in spite of the supposed "bulletproof nature" of app sandboxing and other "security measures."

      Besides, most of these people are not on the latest or upcoming versions of Android which is being in discussed in that very video of yours, where security chief Adrian Ludwig is speaking in his typical idealized marketing jargon.

      Besides, about half of the world is still stuck back on KitKat or earlier which are even worse than the later versions of Android ( ).

      Around the clock, rampant security issues arise from unknowing people misclicking spam emails, accessing illegal download sites, and installing apps and giving them permissions they otherwise never should have.

      Actually, Windows does have a very finely granular, user-based permissions hierarchy. You have been reading far too much Android propaganda dribble lately and probably never have run and managed a corporate Windows Server-based network.

      Interestingly enough, the statistics you cite are clearly hyperbolic, fabricated, and off-the-cuff given how generic the numbers you cite are. As a realistic metric, perhaps you should take a stroll by a high school and ask some of the students there just how many have gotten a virus on their Android phone lately.

      That would be your first taste of humanity's reality outside of your jaded Android shrine. And Android... the most secure OS? If we are speaking of strictly mobile OSes for a moment here, any competent professional could tell you iOS easily leads in security without peer.

      This conversation ends here. You showed clearly condescending, derogatory dialogue towards leading expert technological pundits and analysts who know much more than you ever will with your limited world view.

      In fine, you are an incompetent, unteachable, and pig-headed Fandroid, unopen like Fort Knox to any real or valuable discussion. Judging by your comments, you sound like an indoctrinated Google intern. Good day, sir.

      • Waethorn

        In reply to Hifihedgehog:

        There's a reason why much of world is stuck on KitKat: China.

        Chinese manufacturers don't subscribe to the notion of having a unified app ecosystem via Google's Play Store (and services). Instead, they use AOSP and customize it with their own app store and middleware. These same manufacturers market towards China (over a billion people) and India (over a billion and a half people), along with many other countries. Because of the app restrictions, they don't get certification from Google for their hardware, and they don't factor in serviceability of the OS via updates. In fact, most customers in those countries use their phones as a utility device, loading QQ or WeChat on it and calling it a day. Chinese and Indian consumers don't get into this mind-f*ck of consumerism upgrade cycles like the West does. This is why Samsung, which is Korean, doesn't do much in the way of software upgrades either. You can claim that not having software updates promotes buying new hardware, but that ideology has backfired in Asia, where customers don't care.

    • mebby

      In reply to Lateef Alabi-Oki: Right, Google, the through cunning, patience and persistence, along with a tiny bit of bait-and-switch, to dominant computing. It sure would be nice to able to make sure money (ads) so you can invest in buying off your customers to continue to feed the machine.

  23. BinBinLives

    Windows is not in "maintenance mode". It is in decline. And the best Microsoft could do is properly manage the decline. But with refusing to provide a Telemetry Off switch and better control over updates, Microsoft is accelerating that decline.

  24. VancouverNinja

    Wow. Surprise...

    Android is the most used mobile OS...big deal it has been this way for years. Trying to parallel Android mobile OS to a Desktop/Tablet productivity OS (Windows 10) is ridiculous and the whole train of thought boggles the mind.

    Goofy at best. If Android could ever match Windows as a real productivity OS then there would be a reason for this article and comments.

  25. Bats

    Paul doesn't trust StatsCounter? What does Paul actually trust? Paul should trust different information sources, because he has been wrong with pretty much everything right? That's not even an exxageration.

    This topic isn't new. Paul has been trying to assure Windows'fans for years that Windows will be a dominant player in our computing lives, when in fact, it going in the opposite direction. LOL...this is kinda like "Baghdad Bob" from Iraq War2 fame, when he went on the air to say that the Iraquis were winning the war, when American troops took over the building that he was broadcasting in. "Baghdad Paul?"

    Let's get something straight here with Paul. Paul doesn't work in the "real" world so he doesn't know what "real" work is. He doesn't even know the environment. He is a stay at home blogger. He doesn't even know that you can manage and "create" stuff for his blog from an iPad. Just check your Apple and Android stores and look for the Wordpress app. While you are there, look for the Adobe Photoshop app. Now tell me, that Paul can't "create" content for his Wordpress site using mobile devices? He is either a dinosaur or wholly misleading us. 

    He is right about one thing and that is Microsoft knows this. This is why Microsoft is trying to desperately hold on to their fading share of the technology market. They tried it with Mobile and since they failed they're are trying it through Android, via MSFT assimilition. 

    So If Paul says "Don't worry....," then you believe me...YOU HAVE TO WORRY!

    • boots

      In reply to Bats:

      "Baghdad Bob"?

      I remember a "Comical Ali".

    • jimchamplin

      In reply to Bats:

      Did you actually read this article or just drop in to launch a tirade? The whole point of this article (and others lately) is to say that Windows is not dominant. But if one requires Paul to point that out to them, I'm not sure if their observational skills are very good.

      It doesn't take Stewart freaking Cheifet to know that things changed and are still changing.

      Let them change. I for one will only miss my mouse for a few minutes.

  26. rmac

    It will continue to be good to 'create stuff' on Windows, but to regain dominance, that 'stuff' surely has to be consumable on all devices/os's i.e. the output has to be something like SVG or HTML. I would like to see apps with UIs built of SVG or HTML, but instead of requiring JavaScript, UWP apps (or whatever they might be called) should be able to hook up to the Windows APIs with C# to appeal to more devs. When those consumables are viewed via Windows/UWP's, the whole canvas is one. When viewed in a browser, it's back to scripted web pages. I'm sure Anders H can figure out a C# to JavaScript and a XAML to SVG/HTML translator. Be nice to see tiles open out from icons through to useful info and menus, ultimately opening up to the full app. Come on MS, it's all about the UI. Time to do something really interesting.

  27. jrickel96

    Android is a dead platform, we just don't know what will replace it. It's basically just a placeholder, but Google has never solved the fragmentation issue nor have the fixed the core problems concerning app development in regards to efficient resource usage, privacy issues, and security concerns.

    That's not to say Windows is the future either. But I doubt Android is the future. As I type, KitKat is still one of the biggest installs. Lollipop in the biggest. Marshmellow is second or third, depending on who you trust. The year old Nougat is under 3% marketshare. And that doesn't even account for the various images put out by different OEMs, etc.

    On top of that, reports in December stated that Apple controlled 70% of all premium smartphone sales. That means the bulk of Android phones are mid-tier or low-end. They are purchased because they are cheap and easy to get.

    Android phones are the netbook of smartphones. How many are sold with just 1GB of memory and a Snapdragon 200 or 400? A lot. How many have 720p displays? Probably most.

    Is this true ascendancy? I wouldn't call it that. Everyone uses different launchers. Everyone seems to be on different versions. People that buy Samsungs usually have to root their phones or pay for apps to remove Samsung's terrible apps - and Samsung isn't the only OEM guilty of this.

    Most people on Android don't get regular security updates. They don't get new OS features. They often don't even get upgraded - or it takes a year for them to finally roll out.

    And there's no solution to this in sight - at least not with Android.

    What's next? Don't know. Maybe Windows on ARM will change things a bit. Maybe it won't. But Android is just a placeholder that people use to get what they need, though I suspect they are fairly ambivalent.

    My guess is the future is more likely to be a browser that can run web apps regardless of platform - and that won't need too much power in the handset. And at that point the OS as we know it - iOS, Windows, and Android - may go the way of the dodo as the cloud becomes the universal platform and more carriers make unlimited data standard, especially as we approach 5G roll out and beyond.

    • Darmok N Jalad

      In reply to jrickel96:

      While the fragmentation issue is certainly real, it has not slowed Android's uptake. We've yet to see Android's MSblaster moment, and maybe that day will never come. Since Google has moved so many features to apps and services that can be updated regardless of Android version, fragmentation may only be the lament of the technically aware. The everyday user probably likes that their phone never changes.

      • jrickel96

        In reply to Darmok N Jalad:

        I was just looking over Android handset numbers. You know the most used handset on the planet? Galaxy Core Prime. A three year old handset.

        The average user may like that their phone doesn't change, but it doesn't get security updates either, the OEM has abandoned it, and app developers have to account for a crazy amount of variance.

        I was just thinking about how many old phones are at the top of the list. How few premium handsets exist for Android. How poor OEM support is for their products.

        Then I thought about the iPhone. I just updated to 10.3 last week and that update was also still supported for the iPhone 5 that came out back in 2012.

        Apple gave software support to an iPhone for 4 years. The updated the OS for 4 years. They added features to the OS for four years. They provided security updates for 4 years.

        In other words, there's a reason why Apple captures so much of the premium sales while Samsung has to settle for selling mostly mid-range or lower phones. Samsung, even with their clout, can't directly update most of their phones. In fact, they likely wouldn't even if they could. The OEMs for Android make a phone and mostly move on.

        That's the tragedy concerning Windows on Mobile. A lot of five year old laptops have Windows 10 and keep getting updates. 4 year old iPhones get updates. Meanwhile the Galaxy S7 and even Samsung Galaxy tablets (which don't have the carrier constraints) don't get Android N for nearly a year. A YEAR.

        The Android paradigm is not going to get fixed and it is also not sustainable. Something will replace it. Even if the carriers weren't a problem, the OEMs would be. Microsoft tried to navigate a middle ground between iOS and Android, but they could never get it off the ground - mostly because they were way too late. Had they launched Windows Phone just a year earlier with more features then who knows?

      • VancouverNinja

        In reply to Darmok N Jalad:

        It is a phone OS. A unsuccessful Tablet OS and non existent as a Productivity OS. Android is a limited use Mobile Phone OS. Congrats to them for winning that space - saved their lead in Search. They have yet to move the needle against Windows for Productivity and I think that door has closed on them now. MS is too far ahead on a unified OS across devices.

        • Darmok N Jalad

          In reply to VancouverNinja:

          The unified OS does what for MS? Businesses don't have xboxes, and no one uses Windows Mobile. Heck, even long time partners like ESRI don't have a true UWP app, but they do have apps for Android and iOS. MS does great in corporate because large companies generally don't want to implement large scale software environment changes, as it's a productivity nightmare. Most of them are still on Windows 7, and Office has been the standard forever. MS was smart to introduce Office 365, because otherwise they'd still be stuck supporting multiple versions of Office. My large company went to 365 last year, and our nearest equivalent/comparable large company finally switched this year! Windows 10 is the same idea. It's as though MS wants to reduce the number of versions of software they must support, and perhaps the real reason for one core.

          • VancouverNinja

            In reply to Darmok N Jalad:

            You are just dug in aren't you? Regardless of why people use Windows they USE Windows. Productivity OS vs a Mobile phone OS....geez what does most, if not all of the world do their work on..geez let me think...oh yeah a PC/Laptop. Phones no.

            Android won for user market share OF phones and phones are not nearly as easy to use as a serious productivity tool for work. We have a hard time getting our sales force to use their phone properly for even the items they can reference on their phones. Most use them for A. Email access - if they can whip off a quick response they will use their phones for it but most of the time they wait until they are at their PC to do a proper email with attachments that they will craft or tweak to the situation B. Phone Calls C. Internet surfing - with a small percentage of the use for internet access of business data D. Playing Games/Facebook/WhatsApp usage. Smart phones are awesome but they are toys compared to a Personal Computer.

            Seriously Android should not be discussed in the same category as Windows 10 - it is like comparing a grape to a watermelon.

            • Darmok N Jalad

              I think we aren't having the same conversation. I never said Windows wasn't the choice at work, but rather that it is failing to be the choice at home. Gone are the days of multiple PCs in the home. Now it's multiple smartphones that are not Windows. If MS had made a harder push on mobile, I guess we wouldn't be in disagreement, but the total bungling of mobile makes many of MS's app aspirations futile. MS is trying to convince us that UWP apps are the future of Windows, but the only place to install them is on desktop machines. If that is the plan, then Android has a big lead in apps.

    • Eric Jutrzenka

      My guess is the future is more likely to be a browser that can run web apps regardless of platform - and that won't need too much power in the handset. And at that point the OS as we know it - iOS, Windows, and Android - may go the way of the dodo as the cloud becomes the universal platform and more carriers make unlimited data standard, especially as we approach 5G roll out and beyond.

      Agree! Native apps exist because of current practical constraints on app development. The industry is working hard to overcome these and create universal app development platforms like Xamarin. The OS won't disappear, but apps will become less sticky to OS and more sticky to the services. So the services will become the keystone of the app economy.

      • skane2600

        In reply to Eric Jutrzenka:

        Besides the well-known technical challenges and historical failure of a truly "universal" platform, there's a business problem too. Phone makers want to differentiate their products by adding new features and sometimes modifying the OS in disruptive ways. Even if a universal app platform existed today, it would be constantly chasing the next iteration of phones and OS's. Microsoft supports this approach through Xamarin because they don't have a successful phone and ecosystem to defend, but Apple and others do.

      • SvenJ

        In reply to Eric Jutrzenka: Sure, as soon as ubiquitous, high speed, low cost, connectivity exists.

  28. toukale

    Paul, you are right, this was inevitable to anyone who looked at this logically you can see the trajectory. The problem is with the fanatics, who keep pointing at this magical mobile device that's going to change Microsoft fortune in mobile while ignoring the real problem (apps ecosystem). They keep trying to fight yesterdays war today and everyday. Microsoft to their credit realized this a few years ago and have since embraced iOS/Android and are shipping some of the best mobile on those platforms today.

    Those fanatics are currently in the denial stage of hierarchy of grief, they will eventually reach the acceptance stage one day, but not without a tantrum.

    • xxxdevxxx

      In reply to toukale:

      Problem is that last stats proved that MS apps on Android/iOS are nearly irrelevant. This is what hard core fans and Nadella supporters continue to deny. Next big disaster is that Nadellas cloudy AI stuff don't take off. Where are the bots? Where is Cortanas daily presence and help people? On Android or iOS? Certainly not! Where other players like Google or Amazon have released real version 1.0 products of their digital assistants, Microsoft fails to deliver. Where are Harman Kardons Cortana Speakers? Obviously cancelled since Samsung acquired Harman Kardon! Once again reality has proven that Microsoft cannot rely on OEMs. Ballmer was aware of this, but Nadella necessarily have to do the same mistakes where others had learned from. But maybe this time it's to late to change strategy.

  29. Darmok N Jalad

    If you draw out your logic further, perhaps this is the real reason MS founded the Surface line? Apple has always had small desktop market share with MacOS, but it has long been aimed at a specific group--creators (Apple appears to have finally realized the error of abandoning that group). Perhaps MS knows there will always be a place for Windows, but eventually it will be a specialized target. When that day comes, Surface will be the device to get. It almost seems to be necessary if you are trying to promote your company as being a complete solution.

  30. nbplopes

    There is no indication that these Android or iOS growth is done at the expense of PC form factor. What the statistics show is that Smartphones are being in use today as much or more than PCs. Which if you think about it its quite natural.

    Now will these systems replace the traditional PC? No, No, No.

    What I have seen is that these systems are becoming more like PCs. That is, they are not replacing the PC form factor they are embracing it and brining innovation to it.

    If Windows starts loosing to these devices, the downfall is purely due technological problems that the Windows team refuses or is not. capable of sorting out.

    So will we have PC in the future, oh yes. Will it be Windows? Most probably yes, there is no indication otherwise yet. A bit of competition is not the end of the world ... such feelings have a name ... insecure?.

  31. Joseph Savage

    Actually it doesn't mean anything at all. I make a living using a Windows PC. When I used Android it was just for browsing the net, reading books and doing other things I could do before. Android was just more convenient. I don't know anyone who does work on Android all day. I know lots of people who work on Windows all day.

    What's funny, the only thing I could see turning Android in to a real work horse is DeX, and Paul pooped on that.

    Go to an accountant and say  "I want you to do your accounting on Android" What response do you get? Go into a doctors office and say to the office manager "I want you to do medical billing on Android" You will go in a UNIX programmer and leave a Eunuch programmer.

    Look, some home users bought a big PC because they wanted to share pics of their kids with family and shop on the internet. So the PC industry sold more PCs than they normally would have. Now those people have gone to Android. Things will level out, the whole "the PC industry is in decline" nonsense will go away. I don't know of any businesses who are trying to replace their Windows PCs with phones and tablets. It's not even a point of discussion. I don't know of any students who want to write papers on Android. DeX might change some of that, but at that point I would argue that the phone has become a PC. If people do Desktop computing on Android at some point, then the PC Industry will have transformed. Not gone in to decline.

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