Apathy May One Day Be The Death Of Microsoft


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When was the last time you really cared about Microsoft or its products? It was probably when you first bought a Windows XP desktop or laptop during the PC revolution of the late 90s/early 2000s. At that time, you were the coolest if you had a PC. Oh, how the times have changed though, and Paul Thurrot thinks that change may be the biggest problem facing Microsoft today.

Thurrot, Windows blogger and all around Microsoft expert, penned an article on Tuesday that examined the biggest threat facing Windows going into 2014. While many have already said Windows demise will come at the hands of mobile platforms, Thurrot says it will come from a more surprising source - consumer apathy.

He argues that Windows is in trouble because people just don't care anymore. Here's the gist of his argument:

Windows is in trouble because people simply don't care about it anymore. It's not outright hostility; there's far less of that than the anti-Microsoft crowd would like to believe. It's ambivalence. It's ambivalence driven by the nature of "good enough" mobile and web apps. It's ambivalence driven by the allure of anytime/anywhere computing on tiny devices that are more cool to use and even cooler to be seen using.

It's definitely a compelling argument as it's the same reason many people never upgraded to Windows 7 from XP. The applications consumers and businesses need to use on Windows PCs are good enough on XP. They don't see any need to upgrade to the latest and greatest operating system for that very reason. Microsoft just hasn't given them a reason to care enough yet.

Alongside consumer apathy, Thurrot says that Microsoft may have done itself in years ago with Windows Vista. Vista was part of a larger project called Longhorn that Thurrot says "addressed the wrong problem for the era." He says this led to developers fleeing Windows en masse to the mobile devices that were just starting to hit the market. After mobile exploded, those same developers never returned to Windows which Thurrot says led to a stagnation of the Windows desktop that it hasn't yet recovered from.

So, where does this leave Microsoft? Thurrot says the company will focus more on its devices and services business in 2014, which means we may just see more Windows software appear on competing operating systems, like iOS and Android. That doesn't mean Microsoft will be giving up on Windows 8 though. The company is in it for the long haul. If it's as Thurrot says though, Microsoft will have to work extra hard to make sure consumers, developers and businesses all give a damn about Windows in 2014.

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