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Android's Supplants Windows As Number One OS, Ominous For Microsoft


It seems hard to believe that from a standing start less than a decade ago, Google could supplant Microsoft as the vendor of the world's most popular computing platform. Various reports into device usage are telling us that this is now the case and I have no reason to believe it isn't true.

In the future the gap is only likely to widen as the smartphone market grows and the PC market stagnates. So what does Microsoft do about it?

First of all, folks over at Redmond are unlikely to be panicking. This day has been coming for a while and at least some of what Microsoft has been doing recently is a reaction to this.

Moving Microsoft apps onto other platforms was a defensive move but it was also the move of realism. An admission that the future lay in finding ways to monetise apps on platforms other than Windows.

Whilst Microsoft still owns the enterprise it won't be too concerned about losing a few consumer licenses. And as long as Microsoft can keep Android and iOS devices away from full Active Directory integration there's little danger of Windows being supplanted in the big money, high volume market that is enterprise.

Even BYOD doesn't hold major concerns for Microsoft, so long as enterprises continue to leverage virtualisation services which require the purchase of Windows licenses for those Android and iOS devices.

But.

Long term that may not be the case. Smart enterprises are moving away from Win32 applications and pushing their vendors and developers to standards compliant HTML clients. If this becomes a trend amongst software vendors the need for the Windows middle layer disappears. BYOD, those running Android in particular, are then able to interact with client software directly and the only limiting factor becomes the ability to deliver enterprise level authentication control. An alternative to Active Directory in fact.

With Microsoft's whole enterprise business based on the control Active Directory provides, this has to be a risk which Microsoft is treating very seriously indeed.

As Google moves toward a future where Android and Chrome OS form one device and Apple inevitably increases iPad capability (either with or without integrating Mac OS) it is inevitable that Windows loses. If Windows desktop loses then Microsoft's whole enterprise stack becomes the next target - especially for enterprises who have endured the increasing cost of Microsoft back office lock-in.

At some point Microsoft is going to have to make the same tactical withdrawal on desktop as it has done on mobile, in order to try and protect its back office products. That means native support for Microsoft's Directory Services authentication and lighter more responsive tools for managing back end services. And of course Microsoft already has MDM tools to ensure that client devices can be managed through its back end.

Whilst many are concerned about Apple needing to find the next big thing, ultmately it is Microsoft which needs to score a big win right at the moment. 

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