Is the Windows
Business Desktop Dying?
What’s going to
start to loosen
glehold is a
ONCE UPON A TIME, you couldn’t get fired for buying IBM. We all used to use Internet Explorer. And today, many of us still think that Windows is the only business desktop. But just as IBM and IE are no longer unassailable, I think the days of the Windows busi-
ness desktop hegemony may be numbered.
Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has been
technology and the
business of technology
since CP/M-80 was
300bps was a fast
Internet connection —
and we liked it!
He can be reached at
No, I don’t think my beloved Linux is finally
going to become the desktop of choice. What’s
going to start to loosen the Windows desktop
stranglehold is a combination of factors.
First, there’s the rise of tablet and smartphone
business computing. IT may not like having to
support iPads and Android phones, but guess
what: Users don’t care. Business users in industries such as pharmaceuticals are grabbing iPads
almost as fast as Beijing Apple Store shoppers.
As end users run roughshod over IT with
their tablets and smartphones, Microsoft simply
doesn’t have a competitive offering. Yes, there are
Windows 7 tablets, such as Fujitsu’s Stylistic Q550,
and some people, according to Forrester Research,
seem to want them. I’d love to know where
Forrester found these people. At a price of about
a grand, the Q550 isn’t exactly making buyers
crowd the stores. At the same time, I can find any
number of people who want an iPad 2 and cutting-edge technology fans who want Android tablets.
Meanwhile, Google is trying to rip the business
desktop away from Microsoft, with its Chrome OS
on Chromebooks. While I like that Chrome OS is
based on Linux, that’s a side issue. The real points
in Chromebooks’ favor are that they’re cheap, they
should be reliable, they require no learning curve,
and, thanks to Google’s Citrix and VMware partnerships, they support Windows-based enterprise
applications. It helps too that people trust Google.
Are Chromebooks for everyone? No. How
about ordinary day-in, day-out office work? If
your days are already spent on Web- or cloud-
based applications, then yes, they are.