The 2016 election in the U.S. is one for the history books (actually, all of them are, but this one was different) because the winner played by his own rules at every turn. With every apparent non-traditional screw up, Donald Trump doubled down and kept moving.
Guess what? It’s 2016. Microsoft has milked Windows for more than 20 years and during the same period Apple launched OS X on the Mac, and iOS for mobile devices, iPhone and iPad, respectively, with components reserved for use in watchOS and tvOS. Microsoft is doubling down on Windows, giving it one last gasp to make something of itself as the 21st century rolls on.
We need to be honest here. Every Apple device runs OS X– under the hood, but each has distinct differences in user interface and other components to match the product where it’s installed; macOS Sierra, iOS 10, watchOS, tvOS, and, I’m just guessing forward, carOS. Microsoft’s Windows once ruled the world, but the world changed and Microsoft did not.
What’s the most used operating system on planet earth? Google’s Android OS (two extra geek points if you chose Linux, upon which Android lives). Microsoft’s Windows must be second, right? Nope. That would be Apple’s macOS-iOS-watchOS-tvOS hybrid. Windows comes in third and it’s going downhill because post-PC era, that location on the space time continuum where Windows isn’t very relevant.
Yet, here were are in 2016, with Microsoft fading across the universe, yet the company has decided to double down on the traditional PC industry with Windows 10, make it run on everything that ran previous versions of Windows in a vain attempt to make itself relevant again. By selling PCs. That’s right. Microsoft is in the PC hardware business, gets a few accolades here and there, gets touted as innovative for doing what it should have done 20 years ago, but whatever.
This is Microsoft’s last gasp to be relevant in a rapidly changing world, and news on Windows street says the next goal is to put Windows 10 on Qualcomm’s ARM CPUs next year. That means full on Windows for tablets and smartphones with Windows branding, and the ability to run Office and Photoshop (and almost anything else Windows).
How will it be possible to run Windows 10 on a phone?
Obviously, there are trade offs involved, and it’s likely that Windows 10 will have an adjusted interface to account for the smaller screen sizes, but the real convergence here isn’t so much Windows as the power available in new ARM CPUs. Apple’s version of ARM, the A10 Fusion chip found in the iPhone 7, gets benchmarks that exceed most Windows PC notebooks, and are equivalent to Apple’s new 12-inch MacBook which runs Intel Inside.
Microsoft is doubling down on Windows 10. Why? Other than touchscreen PCs– which still have not stemmed the slow tide out for PC sales– Microsoft doesn’t have much to make it relevant in the 21st century. Sure, there’s Office– and we know how many cubicle farm workers love using Office– and it runs almost everywhere; Windows PCs and tablets, macOS Sierra, iOS 10, Android, etc., but Office is just as equated to old technology as Windows; both are so 1999.
Yet, the doubling down continues because Microsoft doesn’t have anything else. Wait. Cloud business? Uh, not so much on profits, that venture. Surface computers? Sales are up while total PC sales are down, so what’s the point? Xbox? Bing? Servers? App Stores? All are second, third, fourth or more when compared with competitors, so all this doubling down on the basics seems more like a last gasp of air bubbles before the Titanic slips into the depths of the North Atlantic.
Compare that to how Apple has fared since 1997 when the company bought Steve Jobs’ NeXT to become OS X. iMac, OS X, Apple Stores, iTunes, iPod, iTunes Music Store, Intel Inside, iPhone, iPad, Watch, not to mention the highly profitable and rapidly growing ecosystem. Apple’s innovation falls into two groups; the steady iterative innovation where everything improves, and the less regular disruptive innovation where Apple’s products redefine a market.
Windows 10 on a smartphone won’t bring about a revolution or redefine a market. But it will get Microsoft’s mobile efforts up to 2010.