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You can't beat the numbers: Windows 7 retail ends

Staff writer ▼ | December 8, 2013
After defending the concept of personal computers as their life depends on it, Microsoft executives decided it's time to end Windows 7. That's a good move but the company must move faster or in a few years it will be where Blackberry is now.
Microsoft
MicrosoftAfter defending the concept of personal computers as their life depends on it, Microsoft executives decided it's time to end Windows 7. That's a good move but the company must move faster or in a few years it will be where Blackberry is now.


So, why Microsoft decided to dump W7? The key fact that made Microsoft to end Windows 7 retail is numbers: The PC and tablet markets are ending 2013 on down notes, according to analyses this week from IDC.

IDC expects the global PC market will be down 10 percent this year, compared with 2012, at around 314 million units shipped. That reduction in PCs shipped constitutes "by far the most severe yearly contraction on record," according to IDC's "Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker" report. The decline was greater in the consumer market (-15 percent) than in the commercial market (-5 percent).

The year 2014 promises to deliver a continued decline in PC shipments of 3.8 percent worldwide, according to IDC's forecasting. IDC expects that 221 million tablets will have shipped globally in 2013, down from its earlier forecast of 227 million tablets. However, that is 53 percent higher than 2012's number, so the tablet segment has shown growth.

Android operating system use predominated on tablets shipped in 2013, with a 61 percent share of the market. Second in line was Apple's iOS at 35 percent of the tablet market, followed by Windows with a three-percent market share. IDC researchers think that Windows on tablets eventually will grow to have a 10-percent market share by 2017.

So, having that in mind, where is Microsoft now? While it is true that company is trying to follow new technologies, the fact is it is still too slow. Microsoft was slow to embrace the internet (anyone remembers them trying to create a world's network?) The company was slow to react to fast-changing habits of end users, especially outside the corporate sector. And even today, the company is slow: To wait for 2017 for just 10 percent of the market, that's really slow growth.

The point here is that the new CEO, no matter who will take that spot, will do nothing if the corporate culture stays the same. Microsoft is like a cargo train that starts slowly but when it starts it can't be stopped. However, the days of heavy trains are gone; just ask mainframes what they think about sheer power. These days you need a company structure able to adapt fast to changing environment, develop fast and react fast to customers' demands.

In order to succeed, Microsoft needs flat, adaptable and fast management structure. It must be prepared to react fast to all new technologies, ideas and habits coming to life almost daily. The days of "new product every couple of years" are no more. Indeed, it is true that for hard, demanding, corporate tasks, dedicated operating systems is still the way to go, but that market is shrinking literally every day. Customers outside the corporate world are asking for new additions, new devices and new technologies.

That market is too big to be neglected and too fast-changing to be served by the big, old, slow company. Microsoft should embrace mobile world a few years ago but it has waited for the last moment to say "OK, the days of Windows 7 are over". It is true that Windows 8 can be used on a desktop computer but that product is so unpolished that its adoption rate is very low and customers are searching for alternatives. Microsoft must wake up and start running or in 2017 there will be no Redmond company to write about.


 

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