Looking around the operating system industry right now, IT professionals and everyday consumers will find a host of platforms from which to choose. Linux and Apple’s Mac OS X are favorites among some on desktop and laptop users, while Google’s Android and that other Apple operating system-iOS-are scoring major points with mobile customers interested in tablets and smartphones.
However, when it comes to operating systems, it’s Microsoft’s Windows that people know best of all.
It’s for good reason.
Windows has long been the most dominant operating system in the world. Microsoft’s latest release, Windows 7, is helping to keep that going, and the software giant already has its eyes set on all sorts of form factors, including tablets, with Windows 8, which is being previewed for developers at the BUILD conference all this week. At this point in the product’s lifecycle, it appears that Windows is still very much at the top of its game. And the chances of it losing steam anytime soon seem slim.
And yet, it receives far less attention than it should. Android and iOS are all the rage right now, thanks to the growing demand for both smartphones and tablets. There are even some analysts who believe Chrome OS, Google’s other operating system, could eventually make a significant dent in Windows’ market share. But all this fails to realize the importance of Windows, and the fact that, like it or not, it’s still the most important software platform in the world.
Here are 10 reasons why Microsoft Windows still matters and why the operating system will continue its dominance within the tech world.
1. It’s the way the enterprise wants it
Microsoft’s power in the operating system market is only possible because of the enterprise. All over the world, companies are deploying Windows computers, and in the process, making their employees more comfortable with the operating system. So when those employees go home, they buy Windows PCs, as well. Until any other operating system can work its way into the corporate world, there will be no stopping Windows.
2. Look at the installed base
It’s hard to find any other operating system that matters more than Windows if one considers the sheer number of people who use Microsoft’s operating system around the world. Although it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact number of people who use Windows, consider that, according to data from NetMarketShare, Windows has 86.58 percent OS market share. Mac OS X comes in at 5.62 percent, followed by iOS with 3.38 percent. Android has 1.02 percent share, according to the firm. If that doesn’t say everything about Windows, what does?
3. No other OS can come close in usability
Android and iOS are undoubtedly the top platforms in the mobile space, but when it comes to comparing them to Windows, there’s no contest. Windows is simply the most usable and capable operating system on the market, beating all mobile platforms, as well as Mac OS X and Linux. And with Windows 7 Ultimate, offering a virtual version of Windows XP, it’s hard to find many products that won’t work with it.
Its Difficult to Imagine a World Without Windows
4. Mobile operating systems mean little
Mobile operating systems are important, for sure. But in the grand scheme of things, they mean very little in the operating system space. As noted, Android and iOS are trailing far behind Windows in total market share, even though they’re dominating the mobile space. When looking at the industry on a macro level, mobile operating systems mean very little, compared with Windows.
5. It drives the world
Try to imagine a world without Windows. It’s quite difficult. The operating system powers just about everything that consumers, enterprise users and government organizations need to run all aspects of the world. No other operating system, including Mac OS X, Android or Linux can cite that as one of their key strengths. And until all those many stakeholders see no value in Windows, there will be no way for other platforms to become more important.
6. Developers need it
Much has been made about developers flocking to mobile operating systems. And that’s certainly the case. But Windows is still the most important platform for any software developer or peripheral maker. If their products don’t support the operating system, they won’t sell well. It’s as simple as that, and why every major company and small firm must consider Windows before they make any decisions on future products. No other operating system has that luxury.
7. It’s big money
So far, iOS, Android and even Mac OS X haven‘t done a whole lot to drive significant revenue gains for their respective makers. Sure, iOS is central to the iPhone’s success, and Android is helping mobile-device makers with their bottom lines, but Windows is, in and of itself, a cash cow for Microsoft. Customers all over the globe are dropping hundreds of dollars for a new version of the operating system. PC vendors are paying Microsoft boatloads of cash just to bundle the software on their products. Simply put, Windows is big money. And in today’s world, big money is still king.
8. It will determine the fate of future platforms
As of late, there has been quite a bit of talk surrounding Chrome OS, Google’s cloud-based operating system. The operating system, which was launched earlier this year to take on Windows, is being called by some, a future Windows killer. However, these analysts fail to realize that the only way that can happen is if Microsoft changes its own strategy. See, Windows affects the direction of the operating system market, not the other way around. So, while Google is trying to push customers to the cloud, Microsoft’s gravitational pull is keeping them offline and within the traditional PC model. If Windows stays offline, that won’t change. But if Windows heads to the cloud, anything can happen. Like it or not, Windows determines the fate of all its competitors.
9. It’s the go-to platform in emerging markets
It’s easy to think about how the OS market is changing in mature markets, such as the U.S. or Western Europe, but in emerging markets, Windows is still the only go-to platform for folks. And it just so happens that technology adoption in those countries, especially PC purchasing, is higher than anywhere around the world. Considering that, it doesn’t appear Windows will lose any steam anytime soon.
10. Consumers still care
When thinking about Windows’ position in the marketplace, more than anything else, it’s a good idea to think about consumers. Sure, some of them are buying Android and iOS handsets, and they’re warming to the idea of acquiring Macs, but by and large, they’re still flocking to Windows in record numbers. Windows Vista might have caused some to wonder about the operating system’s future, but Windows 7 has made it abundantly clear that it’s still just as important to consumers as it was a decade ago.