's Benioff: Windows 8 Is the End of the Road

Marc Benioff, CEO of, says he believes Windows 8 will be the spark for a shift in enterprise computing, as users must decide whether to continue moving forward with Windows or moving on to the next thing.

NEW YORK – Windows 8 will be the catalyst for a major shift in the enterprise, but not necessarily in a way Microsoft would like, according to’s leader.

Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of reiterated his notion that the Windows era is over and said Windows 8 will be the key turning point for decision making on whether to go forward with the Microsoft operating system.

In a press conference following his keynote at the Cloudforce 2012 event here on Oct. 19, Benioff said he has heard from CIOs who have said they do not plan to move to Windows 8, with one unnamed CIO stating that Windows is the largest point of security concern in her system. And rather than commit to a move to Windows 8, this CIO said she is intent on moving to a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) strategy and allowing users in her company to access enterprise systems using the devices and platforms they prefer.

“The big catalyst of the next shift in the enterprise is Windows 8,” Benioff said. “People are asking do I go to Windows 8 or not,” he added, calling the situation a “gambit.” However, he said, “This was not the case with Windows 7. You heard about the Windows 7 upgrade cycle; you’re not going to hear about the Windows 8 upgrade cycle. This is the end of Windows.”

During his keynote, Benioff described various eras of computing, from the mainframe era in the 1960s to minicomputing in the ’70s, to client servers in the ’80s, cloud computing in the ’90s, mobile computing in the 2000s and social computing in the 2010s.

Benioff said you can go to any AT&T store and find any number of devices you can use in BYOD environments, such as iPhones, iPads, and Android phones and tablets, among other things. “You didn’t have this kind of choice 48 months ago,” he said.

Meanwhile, also helping to spur the shift in the enterprise is a changing of the guard, Benioff said.

“The next generation of leaders has come up, and the last generation is going out,” Benioff said. “A lot of the people who made that Oracle or Microsoft [purchase] decision are no longer there. The new people in there are modern, up-to-date, and they have a new brand preference. How they view technology is different.”

Moreover, fast wireless technology such as Long Term Evolution (LTE) is changing the game, too, Benioff said. The next generation of LTE technology is going to eliminate the need for LANs and WANs, he said.

“With this networking, everything is moving to the cloud,” Benioff said. “We are on a train, and we’re not getting off it.”

Benioff also said that when competitors speak of having the same capabilities as Salesforce, that is much-needed validation for the company and its strategies. “We need that validation, and it’s better for us when they say we have what Salesforce has,” he said. He said this has happened at Oracle, SAP and Microsoft events.

Benioff co-founded in 1999 with the premise of “no software” and moving everything to the cloud. As the world continues to move to that model, Benioff enjoys saying I told you so as he prognosticates about the next wave of computing. Now is the age of social computing and social business, which was a key element of the Cloudforce event.