The results of our “Redmond Road Poll” are in.
About a month ago we decided to speculate on where Microsoft would be five years down the road. Obviously, the company is in transition and is trying to reinvent itself fast. The traditional desktop market, where Windows dominates, isn’t going anywhere and reports of it’s demise are premature, but it is shrinking and becoming much less important, especially in consumer space.
In addition, Microsoft is facing increasing competition on the desktop. Apple’s desktop market share has been on a slow upward tick for five years or so, and Google’s Linux based Chrome OS is gaining enough traction to prompt the Motley Fool to ponder if it could “destroy Windows.” Adding to Microsoft’s woes is the fact that nearly every major OEM has gotten serious about adding well configured Linux machines, mostly running Ubuntu, to their consumer lineup.
In mobile, the fastest growing area of consumer tech at the moment, Microsoft so far remains dead in the water. Although there are reports that their Surface tablets are beginning to gain some momentum, they remain “me too” devices for the time being, and mobile device makers have not been in a big hurry to embrace Windows Phone 8 in any meaningful way. Redmond’s purchase of Nokia may eventually help them gain market share on smartphones, tablets and phablets, but analysts are predicting they’ll only manage to come-in at number three in the mobile market, behind Android and iOS.
In the enterprise, where Microsoft is still firmly entrenched, they’ve had to make some adjustments that would’ve been unthinkable only five years ago, just to maintain. The move to the cloud has forced them to reluctantly embrace open-source to the point that a Microsoft spokesperson recently told a gathering at an open source conference, “we couldn’t have done that without open source.”
On October 2nd, we ran a poll and asked our readers, mostly free software devotees, to pick from a list of seven statements the one that best described where Microsoft would be five years from now. The choices offered were:
- The company will regain its footing and again become the dominant monopoly, not only on PCs but on mobile devices as well.
- Microsoft will remain a major player in all aspects of computing but will not hold anything near the power it did when it was at its peak.
- Microsoft, or a major part of it, will be absorbed by another tech firm.
- Microsoft will be split into two separate companies, one selling Windows, Office and other software and the other selling computers, smartphones and tablets.
- The company will slowly get out of the consumer business to focus its efforts on the enterprise.
- Its market share will continue to shrink until it becomes just another technology company.
Only two of these statements received enough votes to be meaningful.
The biggest vote getter, with 42%, was that Microsoft is destined to become just another technology company in a crowded field. This result was somewhat surprising and may be due to the hopeful nature of our readership which tends to dislike Microsoft with a passion. Less surprising was the statement in second place. 32% thought Microsoft will continue to be dominant, just not as powerful as it had been in its heyday. 14% thought that the company would eventually abandon the consumer market to focus on the enterprise.
None of the other choices received over 7% of the vote. Only 1% thought Redmond would get back on track and again become the all powerful giant we’d all learned to hate.
This is all speculation, of course, as history can’t be written in advance. Of one thing we’re certain, however. Microsoft is facing one hell of a ride.