Five reasons why the sun is setting on Windows dominance

five reasons why the sun is setting on windows dominance logo sunset

Today, HP announced that it will begin loading its PCs with its own webOS sometime next year. The Motorola Atrix 4G is a smartphone capable of docking and becoming an Android laptop. Windows Phone 7 is losing momentum. These are only the first trickles from the Windows dam, but it is cracking. Windows has ruled the PC world for more than 20 years, but times may be changing. Here are five reasons why the Windows PC empire may be ready to burst.

PCs are no longer dominant

For the last thirty years, personal computers have been the heart of the computing experience. For a long time there was nothing else, and when connected gadgets started popping up, they all needed a PC to sync with and show them love. This is changing. While there are still plenty of devices that require a PC, the list is shrinking fast. A whole host of digital devices have begun becoming Internet aware without the PC. When’s the last time you needed to connect your Kindle to a computer? How about your smart TV?  Manufacturers are finding ways to further untether their products every day. PCs are becoming a single unit in a large, networked, connected system of Internet-capable devices like tablets, smartphones, and smart TVs.

The smartphone and tablet are the two biggest examples of this trend. In many ways, they are becoming more important than PCs, because they are on your person at all times. As we have continued to demand more out of smartphones, their app ecosystems have soared to unprecedented levels, offering hundreds of thousands of apps in one easy-to-find place.

The iPhone spawned a new breed of competitive, capable OSs

The iPhone hit shelves a little less than four years ago and it has bred change. Apple redefined the mobile computing experience with a full touch experience that let users easily browse the Web and perform a multitude of tasks that just weren’t as simple before it came out. When it launched the App Store, the iPhone solidified its place at the top of the smartphone heap. Since then, Apple has continually added new capabilities to its bottom-up OS, which was based on some core ideas from Mac OS X.

five reasons why the sun is setting on windows dominance apple iosIt took two years for Android, iOS’s first viable competitor, to spring up, but it has grown astronomically (888 percent) in the last year and a half. Tablets and touch devices of all sizes have sprung from Android. It and iOS have collectively kicked the rest of the industry into high gear. RIM has shown off a new BlackBerry Tablet OS based on new architecture, while HP has continued to refine and expand the role of its own webOS. Nokia is set to release MeeGo, it’s own custom new-generation OS, and even Microsoft released a completely redesigned OS called Windows Phone 7. This is likely only the start. Unlike the PC industry for most of my life, the smartphone and tablet industries have bred real, capable, competitive operating systems that are proving to be more useful than many of us ever thought they would be.

Windows 7: Unfriendly to touch

Unfortunately, Windows is not a part of this growing smartphone ecosystem. While Microsoft continues to tinker and perfect Windows 7, it is largely the same operating system as it was when it was first released as Windows 95. The graphics have improved dramatically, as has its functionality, but there is little innovation coming out of Redmond in the PC realm.

For the longest time, its familiarity was one of Windows’ strongest traits, but the tide of the market has turned against it. As touch-based tablets continue to rise in popularity, users and manufacturers are demanding new types of touch interaction on all their devices, and Windows 7 just isn’t up to the task. Microsoft tried to popularize tablet PCs a decade ago, but it hasn’t spent much time optimizing its OS for them. Windows 7 remains an unintuitive, clunky mess on touch devices. There are a host of relatively simple modifications that could improve the experience, but Microsoft doesn’t seem to be making them.

Microsoft split its platform with Windows Phone 7

Worse, the company is sending mixed messages at a time when the market doesn’t know what to do. Windows Phone 7 is supposed to be Microsoft’s answer to modern touch interfaces. It was developed by Microsoft’s underrated Zune team from the ground up, and has a unique and imaginative new interface, but Microsoft is holding it back. We have yet to see a Windows Phone 7 tablet or any new WP7 devices since its launch in November. Instead, at CES and since, Microsoft has been touting Windows 7 as the platform for touch PCs, tablets, and devices of all kinds. While CEO Steve Ballmer says MS is behind WP7 on one hand, his actions are undermining it on the other. WP7 is a beautiful OS that could run tablets and other devices wonderfully. It would be nice if Microsoft would tap its full potential instead of trying to shove Windows 7 into most touch devices.

five reasons why the sun is setting on windows dominance ballmer phone 7

Really, it’s all Apple

Call it a comeback or call it a long-standing diabolical plot by Steve Jobs to eventually destroy Microsoft and take back the computer throne by reinventing computers themselves, but like it did in the late 1970s to mid 1980s, Apple has completely changed the game. Unlike Microsoft, which has long been content to sit on its pile of money, Apple has been on a quest to change computing for the better. It began with the iPod a decade ago, which bred the iPhone, which gave way to the iPad last year. Apple is completely leading the consumer electronics world right now, from a sales and mental standpoint. Though HP was the first to announce that it is bringing its webOS to the desktop, Apple even foreshadowed that idea, as it began bringing some of the lessons its learned from the iPhone and iPad back to the Mac. The Mac App Store is the first small example of iOS infiltrating Apple PCs, but a big change is coming to Macs as well.

Get moving, Microsoft

The world is shifting under Microsoft’s feet. In just a year, its dominant Windows 7 OS has gone from looking like a mammoth success to appearing as yesterday’s news. Sales don’t reflect it yet, but if Microsoft wants to hold onto its place in the market, Steve Ballmer may want to re-read the departing memo of Ray Ozzie, his former chief software architect. In it, he talked about how complexity kills, and the ever connected future ahead of us. He foresaw a post-PC world and explained what Microsoft will have to do to stay relevant. Unfortunately, we don’t yet know if the company is heeding his wisdom. Hopefully, a connected, forward-thinking Microsoft is still ahead of us.

Wearables

To be blunt, the Vuzix Blade smartglasses just don’t cut it

We tried out the Vuzix Blade to find out if it’s worth shelling out $1,000 for smartglasses. Are these augmented reality, Android-powered glasses really ready for primetime or just an expensive gimmick that no one really needs?
Deals

Take $250 off the HP Spectre x360 laptop with this Presidents’ Day sale

If you're hoping for something more powerful that will last more than a few months, you'll probably need to invest $1,000 or more. Unless, of course, you take advantage of the Presidents' Sale on the HP Spectre x360 13t.
Photography

Tight on space? Here’s how to transfer photos from an iPhone to a computer

Never lose any of your cherished selfies or family vacation photos from your iPhone again by learning how to transfer photos from your iPhone to a computer, whether you want to use a cable or wireless transfer.
Computing

Windows 7 is still immensely popular. Is it really better than Windows 10?

With the end of support of Windows 7 approaching, have you been holding off on upgrading to Windows 10? In this guide, we give look at some of the biggest differences between the most popular operating systems.
Deals

Need a new tablet? Here are the best iPad deals for February 2019

In the wide world of tablets, Apple is still the king. If you're on team Apple and just can't live without iOS, we've curated an up-to-date list of all of the best iPad deals currently available for December 2018.
Mobile

Love music? For audiophiles, the LG G8 ThinQ may be the best phone ever made

LG is expected to release a successor to the LG G7 ThinQ, possibly called the LG G8 ThinQ, this year and rumors about it are already spreading. Here's everything we know about it so far.
Product Review

Nokia’s 3.1 Plus is an affordable phone that’s crippled by its camera

The Nokia 3.1 Plus is HMD Global’s first smartphone to be sold by a U.S. carrier in-store. It’s only available on Cricket Wireless right now, which underlines its focus on affordability. Should you buy a phone this affordable?
Mobile

Smartwatch sales soared in 2018, with Apple leading the charge

The NPD Group, a market research organization, has reported smartwatch sales soared in 2018. Apple is leading the charge, but it's clear there's still room in the market for competitors, as Samsung and Fitbit also did well.
Mobile

Love Playmoji pack adds animated Valentine’s stickers to your Pixel photos

Valentine's Day is here, and to celebrate, Google has added the "Love Playmoji" pack to the Playground feature on its Google Pixel camera. The new feature will add cute AR-driven extras to your Pixel photos.
Mobile

Xiaomi Mi 9 will be one of the first phones with monster Snapdragon 855 chip

Xiaomi's next major smartphone release will be the Mi 9, and the company hasn't held back in giving us a good look at the phone, revealing the design, the camera, and a stunning color.
Wearables

Galaxy Watch Active isn't official yet, but you can see it in Samsung's own app

Samsung may be about to resurrect its Sport line of smartwatches under a new name: The Galaxy Watch Sport Active. Leaks and rumors are building our picture of the device at the moment.
Mobile

Stop buying old tablets, says Samsung, buy the new Galaxy Tab S5e instead

Samsung has launched the Galaxy Tab S5e -- the E is for Essential -- a reasonably priced tablet that includes many of the features we like from the Tab A 10.5, and the Tab S4. Here's what you need to know.
Mobile

Bag yourself a bargain with the best budget tablets under $200

The battle for your budget tablet affections is really ramping up. Which tablet, costing less than $200, should be commanding your attention? We take a look at some different options for the budget-conscious.
Wearables

Focals succeed where Google Glass fumbled (but do we really need smartglasses?)

It’s been seven years since Google took the wraps off Google Glass. Now, we’re finally getting a modern-day equivalent we want to wear. North’s Focals combine subtle style with an intuitive interface to craft smartglasses you’ll…