Microsoft's monopoly is over: analyst
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer faces tough competition also from cloud computing. Photo: Lucas Jackson/Reuters
Australian business have not yet committed to embracing the new Windows 8, but federal government agencies will be encouraged to develop applications for the new operating system from today despite predictions that Microsoft's corporate monopoly is over.
Current policy determined by the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) states only the current and one immediate previous version of any operating system are to be used for the development of new applications from the day a new version is released.
Australian corporate users are not likely to rush in despite the hype. Photo: Timothy A Clary
"The COE policy is a policy driving convergence. It is aimed at the next standard operating environment (SOE) an agency is developing. From the date of release of Windows 8, the requirement, for new SOE development, would be for Windows 8 or Windows 7. Developments already under way are not required to be changed," an AGIMO spokesperson said Friday.
According to Telsyte analyst Rodney Gedda, predicting the success of the new operating system among corporate and government organisations was difficult because Microsoft is not only battling Apple and Google, but also cloud computing.
Some of the biggest users of Microsoft software in Australia, Qantas and the Commonwealth Bank, said Windows 8 was under evaluation, but no commitment had yet been made to adopt the new operating system for new applications, desktops, laptops or tablet devices.
Gedda said the ability for software developers to deliver their applications over the internet, meant users no longer relied on using the Microsoft operating system to access the tools for their jobs so Microsoft could no longer rely on its monopoly grip over businesses' technology needs. "Even though the PC market's not dead Microsoft now faces the biggest competition it has ever faced (...) in the way that people are using computers."
"Microsoft built its fortunes during the paradigm of PCs and servers but it has fallen behind as this has shifted to mobile-tablet computing.Therefore Microsoft has to muscle in, and it can't just continue rely on PCs."
One of Australia's leading technology users, the Commonwealth Bank is not rushing in.
"As a technology leader, the Commonwealth Bank is always looking at what are the best technology solutions for our people, our business and our shareholders," a spokesperson said.
"We are largely a 'Microsoft shop', so it clearly makes sense that we are assessing possible future solutions for our desktop fleet and this includes evaluating Windows 8.
"Qantas, which has outsourced 95 per cent of its technology operations, has also not made a decision at this stage. We are aware of the opportunities presented by the Windows 8 operating system, and we are examining our options," a spokesperson said.
AGIMO noted the use of Microsoft software was not mandatory among government agencies.
Telsyte's Gedda said Microsoft had one big card up its sleeve: relationships.
"One of the biggest opportunities is the channels and the relationship it has with big OEMs. They will be producing new PCs and laptops that come pre-loaded with Windows 8, as well as mobile devices.
"It's a pretty big drawcard for Microsoft. It has been since the dawn of the PC era and I expect that to continue. It might be trickier but it also has the opportunity to market Windows 8 in a way that's not possible for its competitors."
He expects that there will be a broad take-up of Windows 8 - especially as Microsoft discontinues support for Windows XP in 2014 - and that businesses will always have a need for the PC, even though this is declining.Microsoft itself will have to become more competitive in a rapidly evolving industry and only time will tell if it can extend its dominance.
"Microsoft has a lot of channels to market and is giving people a better opportunity to upgrade. However, businesses have a lot more opportunities these days to use a diverse range of products and ecosystems."
"One thing is certain: the Microsoft monopoly is over."