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Two leading Gartner analysts says that Microsoft’s flagship Windows, which has dominated desktop computing for decades, is in danger of collapsing.

Michael Silver and Neil MacDonald say Windows, which runs the vast majority of the world’s PCs, has become so bulky and ill-equipped for the challenges of modern computing that it risks becoming obsolete.

Threats from new Web-based models of software delivery, a shift towards low-cost computing, and a reluctance on the part of companies to upgrade their machines to new operating systems for potentially limited benefits, have all contributed to the possibility that Microsoft’s dominance of the desktop may crumble, they said.

The increasing complexity of Windows means the release times for new versions have become unpredictable. Vista, the latest version, has 50 million lines of code, more than double the second version of the software.

 

Developing world trends ignored

Microsoft’s focus on newer and larger versions of Windows also failed to respond to free software use in the developing world,  where PC growth is running at 16 to 24 per cent, compared with 2-8pc in mature markets.

“For Microsoft, its ecosystem, and their customers, the situation is untenable,” Silver and Macdonald said in a presentation titled Windows is Collapsing. They pointed to technologies such as virtualisation and software-as-a-service as threatening the old Microsoft dominance.

A Microsoft spokesman said: “Microsoft disagrees with Gartner on the state of Windows. Unfortunately much of the data presented was based on relatively small sampling of Gartner conference attendees and doesn’t align with more rigorous research.”

 

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