After my blog regarding some theories I have on future direction of some of the major IT companies at the moment, Tim from Spyjournal has added a few additional thoughts and idea’s that are very relevant. I would like to make a few comments on some of them.
Tim pointed out that the cost, even just in the cost in time lost, is too much for many businesses and corporations to even consider a transition to any other system than what they are currently on, in many cases, Microsoft systems.
I agree with this completely. However, I worked for the I.T. department of the Diamantina Institute at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane, nowhere near as big as some of the systems mentioned by Tim, with only 200 or so people regularly there. In my experience there, there were around 250 workstations permanently setup and another 50-100 laptops that were regularly coming and going.
The systems there comprised of around 80% Windows based systems, 15% Mac’s and the remaining 5% on Linux. There were both Windows 2003 servers and Linux servers. By the time I left there, they were just beginning to rollout Vista on the systems, and about 50% of the new workstations over the time I was there were Mac’s.
All of these different systems have to work together, and all of the different systems are needed for different things. Using these diferent systems often resulted in problems with interoperability. It was well setup, and it worked, but problems did arise. There are plenty of other places that use a variety of systems like this, on a larger scale is a large amount of universities, at QUT alone, there are hundreds of Mac’s a large amount of Linux workstations, and thousands of Windows computers.
Reluctance to change
As Tim pointed out, 50% of people are reluctant to change. That is very true, but at the same time, around the same percentage of people are easily influenced by their peers. As I mentioned in my previous blog, Apple has experienced an increase in market share since the Intel-based Mac’s were released. I won’t deny at all that I recommend Mac’s to pretty much everyone that doesn’t explicitly need something available only on Windows, and aside from the few people I know that are extremely anti-Mac (though they are also extremely pro-Vista), when they see how simply my Macbook does things and how intuitive and easy to learn it is, they love it.
In his comment summary, Tim points out that he believes that Apple will never have the weight of the world behind them as Microsoft does. I do agree, to an extent. However, Apple did have it once, around the era of the Apple 2’s and the first Macintosh’s. A long time ago yes, but it does show how big of a change can happen. I do agree, that the chance of Apple regaining the majority of that lost ground is very low. I do believe though that the increase in Mac’s will continue. Microsoft has products on Mac already, so they are already on their way to being interoperable. I am hoping Entourage has better Exchange support in 2008 than 2004, I haven’t been able to find out yet. The point is though, with Microsoft’s announcements of interoperability support, it gives Apple, Microsoft, and other developers more opportunities to increase cross platform compatibility between OS X and Windows, and even Linux. As more becomes available on Mac’s, there is no reason that the market share cannot continue to increase.
This may or may not happen, but there is potential.
In continuing with the ‘reluctance to change’ series of thoughts, some things, such as the Kerio Mail Server, would not make much difference to the end user, except for an increase in client compatibility, it is really only the backend. Again, I agree that a changeover like this in a large business or organisation is largely unviable, it does provide possibilities though.
My thoughts on this largely overlap with what I have already said. Microsoft systems and software do integrate well with each other, and where this integration is critical, it is worth the extra costs and is no doubt cheaper in the long run. Microsoft would not have been as successful as they are if their solutions were not some of the best. Not every situation is suitable to run solely, or even predominately Microsoft options though, so this is a market that could be very beneficial to both Apple and Microsoft. Increasing interoperability support can only help Microsoft in this area.
Yes, Google apps are lightweight solutions. Though I wouldn’t compare Google Documents to Notepad, it is more comparable to Wordpad, except with collaborative features and support for both .doc and .docx files. Yes, Microsoft does provide a better office suite solution than Star or Open Office. While I prefer Microsoft Office to iWork, I find iWork does provide, in some cases, a better solution than Office, particularly in presentations. This overlaps with the reluctance to change. Not everyone agrees with me on this, but Office 2007 is a big change from 2003 and a lot of functionality has become confusing with the ribbon system, not gone, just confusing, it makes performing some functions more difficult and confusing, while it has not provided any increase in the speed or ease at which functions can be performed (in my experiences anyway).
As Tim says, for Microsoft and Google to join forces may be the smart thing to do, it seems to me that there is competition between the two, in more than just the search area. I do not think that either side would consider a joint option. Acquiring Yahoo would give Microsoft a much needed kick in the right direction for search, and I do believe that Google’s claims about how bad it would be are not really accurate. Yahoo has been an internet pioneer, there is no doubt about that, but so has Microsoft, and Microsoft is not a bad company (I know I make them out to be sometimes). Given their interoperability announcements and so on, Microsoft is taking a new approach into the fields that Google are working towards with their globally accessible applications and information.
I very muchly believe that there are going to be some changes in the industry, they may not be as I had originally been thinking, but it is going to happen, just look at where things are going with Yahoo at the moment, and I do believe that Apple are going to continue to gain more market share, at least for a little while yet. Google are a big player as well, and the competition, both direct and indirect is doing great things.