As I have been saying for years, it has long been obvious that Windows was a bad consumer operating system. Whatever its virtues in the enterprise, for technology professionals, and for power computer users, Windows was far too complex and insecure for the vast majority of home PC users. Hundreds of millions of technically untrained people had to struggle with an operating system that was incomprehensible to them.
Microsoft not only ignored the needs of consumers but stood in the way of all who tried to make home computing simpler. Microsoft even went so far as to try to block projects like the One Laptop per Child effort.
Finally, someone with enough resources and market savvy to counter the monopoly muscle of Microsoft came along and produced systems aimed at the consumer. Sales of the iPhone, the iPad, and the Android mobile platforms took off as consumers eagerly went for systems that were simpler and easier to use.
For a long time I lamented that the technorati couldn’t seem to understand that the home computer user’s skills and needs were not the same as those of people who use computers professionally. As Windows 8 shows, Microsoft is still clinging to one system for everybody and the belief that it can force the consumer to buy whatever it gives them.
However, the technology journalists seem to be finally realizing that Windows is not the operating system for absolutely everybody. In fact, there has been a cascade of articles about how consumers are deserting Windows. Importantly, industry observers are finally awakening to why Windows is not what consumers want. Here are some examples with quotes that are eerie echoes of what you could have read on this blog 5 or 6 years ago:
- Did we all just witness Windows start to die?
But most people do not like the complexity that comes with power and flexibility. Some people just want to give their parents a box that lets them have a video call with the grandkids from time-to-time, and don’t want to have to futz around configuring anti-virus software—Matt Baxter-Reynolds at ZDNet
- Windows isn’t dying, it’s just becoming irrelevant
Bottom line, some people don’t have the time, energy, inclination, experience, or know-how to make Windows do what they want it to do—Adrian Kingsley-Hughes at ZDNet
- Microsoft’s Struggle to Make Things Simple for Consumers
The people in Redmond have a fundamental misunderstanding of what users are looking for—J. P. Gownder, principal analyst at Forrester Research, quoted in the New York Times
Of course, Microsoft isn’t going away. It remains a major, very profitable company with a lock on much of the enterprise. But its domination of consumer computing is fading. And it’s about time.