January 16, 2012

Microsoft Still Has a Monopoly with Windows

In his most recent column, Ed Bott said something, mostly unrelated to the rest of the rant, that got me thinking. He said, "In the general-purpose PC segment, where small vestiges of Microsoft's one-time monopoly still exist..."

What I think he's trying to say here is that Microsoft doesn't really have monopoly market power any more in PC operating systems. Or maybe Ed thinks it's possible to have a tiny little bit -- "small vestiges," of monopoly market power. That doesn't really make any sense to me. It's kind of like saying someone is "a little bit pregnant." You either have monopoly market power or you don't.

Here's what I think.

Microsoft absolutely does still possess monopoly market power for PC operating systems.

Microsoft Windows has somewhere between 90% and 92% of the worldwide PC installed base and Windows PC sales accounted for somewhere between 93% and 95% of total PC sales in 2011. (Mac sales were about 4.75% of total PC sales in 2011 -- 16.73 million Macs out of a total of 352.4 million PC shipments)

Microsoft Windows is just as much the overwhelming dominant PC operating system power today as it was back in 1999 when it was declared a monopoly.

"Yeah. Sure. But what about the rise of the smartphone and the tablet?" I hear you saying. Well, those are not PC operating systems. Those belong to different and fairly competitive markets. PC operating systems installed base and current sales market share are still very much dominated by Microsoft.

Posted by asa at 1:45 PM

 

reactions, thoughts, comments, etc.

I was pondering this a bit recently… It would be interesting to look at market share numbers/trends around the time of the Vista flop. In a healthy, competitive market I'd expect consumers to be able to choose and move between alternatives easily (although there's always going to be some degree of inertia). My impression is that this didn't happen, rather there was simply rejection of Vista and continued demand for XP. (Which begs the question if, instead of monopoly constraints, XP was just superior to modern alternatives.)

Posted by: Justin Dolske | January 16, 2012 4:29 PM

and with UEFI lockdown requirements they're trying to own the ARM tablet market, too. After that, everything else follows, of course.
Can it still be stopped?

Posted by: mm | January 16, 2012 6:54 PM

What happens when Windows 8-powered tablets enter the market? Do we ignore tablets running Win8 and only count Win8 desktops and laptops? Or do we count Win8 tablets in statistics for "PC operating systems" and start counting iOS on the iPad as a "PC operating system" too?

Posted by: Travis | January 16, 2012 7:50 PM

There will be no difference between your "desktop" PC and your future tablet, they will be the same device. It will use touch when on on the go and use airplay/wifi/bluetooth/whatever to link with your keyboard, mouse/touch pad, screen and speakers in the office.

Posted by: anon | January 17, 2012 1:56 AM

http://www.reactos.org/en/index.html

that would be the only thing that could kill the microsoft os monopoly trouble is they dont have enough money to truly get the project rolling the only company that could fund it would be Mozilla

Posted by: gabriel | January 17, 2012 2:35 AM

"Yeah. Sure. But what about the rise of the smartphone and the tablet?" I hear you saying. Well, those are not PC operating systems. Those belong to different and fairly competitive markets. PC operating systems installed base and current sales market share are still very much dominated by Microsoft."

That's a bit like saying cars aren't a threat to the horse and cart as they belong to different and fairly competitive markets. The PC market itself is under threat from these products, as more and more people start to use Android/iOS is their primary computing platform. So in 5 or so years time it might not matter who has the monopoly in PC operating systems anyway - if the trajectory continues the 'PC' won't be so important.

Here's a nice little post on the changing shape of the computing landscape - I strongly recommend watching the 20sec video. Way more powerful than any graph can be. The post takes things to the extremes, but it's quite thought provoking.

http://www.asymco.com/2012/01/17/the-rise-and-fall-of-personal-computing/

Posted by: Phil Nash | January 18, 2012 3:51 AM










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