A new forecast out from research firm Gartner indicates that Microsoft can expect that Windows will be virtually tied with Google Android in the total device market for smartphones, tablets and PCs by 2016.
Furthermore, while Microsoft will record strong sales gains in the tablet computer market, it will still be a distant third-place finisher in that fast-growing segment during that time span.
Gartner released various market forecasts on Oct. 25, the same day that Microsoft officially launched the Windows 8 operating system, variations of which can run on tablets, traditional PCs and notebooks.
At the same time, Gartner released a study during its Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando, Fla., Oct. 21 to 25 that found that 65 percent of enterprises surveyed will implement a mobile device management (MDM) system by 2017 to control the proliferation of mobile devices flooding the market and the workplace.
In the overall device market, Gartner forecasts that the total installed base of Microsoft-powered mobile phones, PCs and tablets are projected to reach 2.284 billion units by 2016, virtually tied with Google Android devices at 2.299 billion units. The Gartner study is estimating the installed base of Windows 7 and 8 as well as Windows Phone 7 and 8 installed on PCs, tablets and smartphones.
Apple will rank third with just more than 1 billion units, including laptops such as its MacBook Pro and other models. The total device installed base will reach 7.855 billion units by 2016, according to Gartner.
As for just the tablet market, Gartner predicts that the leading seller of tablet computers will be Apple, whose iPad, and now iPad mini, are expected to achieve sales of 219 million units globally by 2016. Second will be the manufacturers of devices running the Android operating system, which are expected to reach 109 million in unit sales. Microsoft will grow significantly over that same time—from 2.3 million units in 2012 and 9.3 million in 2013 to 34.4 million by 2016—for third place. The total tablet market may reach 364 million units by 2016.
Despite whatever trepidations enterprises might have about workers bringing in myriad types of devices into work to access the corporate network, they are becoming resigned to the BYOD trend, but with conditions, Gartner reports.
Over the next five years, the research firm forecasts that 65 percent of enterprises will adopt an MDM policy for their “corporate liable users.”
“The era of the PC has ended. Employees are becoming more mobile and looking for ways to still be connected wherever work needs to be done," said Phil Redman, a research vice president at Gartner, speaking at the Orlando event. “Securing corporate data on mobile devices is a big challenge, but one that companies must embrace.”
By 2017, 90 percent of enterprises will have two or more mobile operating systems to support, Gartner said. Already, many companies have moved in the past year to Apple's iOS as their main mobile device platform, a trend that started with the launch of the first iPhone in 2007 and accelerated with the introduction of the iPad in 2010.
MDM solutions provide security so that corporate data is encrypted in transit and often stored only on the corporate network, not the mobile device. Security capabilities can also include a remote wipe capability; in the event a device with corporate data on it is lost or stolen, the data can be deleted over the air. MDM also supports enterprise and some third party applications that employees use to do their work.