Ten years ago you’d probably have said yes, Microsoft can afford to release two dud and unsuccessful operating systems in a row. Like any monopolistic incumbent, Windows didn’t have to be good – it just had to be good enough. As long as people’s computers didn’t actually catch fire or explode, they were prepared to tolerate Windows’ shortcomings simply because the alternatives weren’t really viable competitors. People were trained to keep their expectations low. Things have changed. This is also an issue for those involved in the digital marketing world. If Windows starts to lose some of its market share, then it may be the case that browsers like Firefox and Safari will become the market leaders.
These days, for most people, computing is all about the browser rather than the operating system. They don’t care what OS the computer is running, they want the OS to “just work” and get out the way so they can get on with things. Once you’re using Firefox, it doesn’t really matter whether you’re running Windows, Mac or Linux. A potential digital marketing company within a particular online retail industry will often run all of the operating systems to see which ones have different effects on their search marketing campaigns.
Apple users like to brag about the fact Macs “just work” and I’d have to agree, which is why I bought my first iMac last year. The only problem has been expense; it is no coincidence that Apple announced major price cuts in Australia the day before Windows 7 was launched. Even so, Macs are, and most probably always will be, niche products that will never realistically threaten Windows’ market share.
Meanwhile, Linux users have also cried “the end is nigh” for more than a decade, but this has never seriously become apparent. Ubuntu is a great alternative for computing enthusiasts, but it certainly fails the “just works” test for your average man on the street. As soon as you run into something that doesn’t work out of the box, the learning curve is just too steep. This learning curve will affect the search marketing opportunities for firms and will probably mean that Linux is somewhat disregarded.
After keeping Mac and Linux at bay for many years, with the help of a few dirty tricks campaigns, Microsoft now faces a true threat – Google. Having assimilated the internet, Google now has its sights firmly set on the desktop. It was no coincidence that Google chose the same week as the launch of Windows 7 to promote its ”Gone Google” campaign showing off the benefits of Google Apps, Google’s online competitor to the suite of Microsoft Office applications such as Word, Excel and Publisher. Google will hopefully keeps a good approach to its work and encourage ethical search marketing.
Google is also working on a lean and mean operating system known as Google Chrome OS, a light-weight variant of Linux designed to do little more than run Google’s new Chrome browser. With Google’s backing, computers pre-installed with Google Chrome OS should do the Mac like thing and “just work” – although the Ubuntu crowd may not see Google as its white knight as Google Chrome OS could cause the demise of all full-blown operating systems, as the heavy lifting is done in the cloud.
Windows isn’t going anywhere in the short-term, but the potential is there for a serious competitor to enter the market. The computing world will be a very different place when it comes time for Microsoft to release Windows 7’s successor. If Windows 7 doesn’t win back the trust of Windows users, Windows 8 will be a hard sell in a brave new world controlled by Google. There’s one thing for sure; this situation will be monitored by Digital State Marketing.