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As expected, Apple's OS X makes a real dent in MS' Windows OS

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September 25, 2012

As most people know, since the beginning of the mass production of personal computers, Microsoft Windows has always enjoyed a seemingly insurmountable dominance over the operating system offered by Apple, but new market share figures reveal Apple's rapid rise is making some gaping holes in Microsoft's Windows OS. According to Horace Dediu, founder of market research firm Asymco, the ratio of shipments of Windows PCs to Macs peaked in 2004 at a huge 56-to-1 ratio. Since then, that number has crashed to a low 19-to-1. And, it keeps on dropping.

Some analysts are now predicting that the ratio will soon drop to 15-to-1. But that's only counting Windows versus Mac OS X. If you take into account mobile iOS devices such as the iPhone and the iPad, the ratio drops to less than 2-to-1. Those are very impressive numbers in deed.

"Considering the near future," Dediu writes on his Asymco blog, "it's safe to expect a parity of iOS plus OS X vs Windows within one or two years. The installed base may remain larger for some time longer but the sales rate of alternatives will swamp it in due course."

As Dediu rightly points out, sales ratios are not only a measure of overall market share, but more importantly, a measure of dominance-- businesses, software developers and the internet ecosystem itself tend to gravitate around the dominant player in any market. And personal computers are no different.

To paraphrase a truism coined in reference to IBM, 'no one ever got fired for buying Windows'. Or, as Dediu puts it, "The stronger you are, the stronger you get."

So what happened just eight short years ago? Dediu suggests that one factor might be the rapid rise in portable computing devices and the strength of Apple's laptop offerings. That may very well be true, but Apple's PowerBook line was already a success, and had been strengthened three years earlier when the titanium-bodied, sleek PowerBook G4 announced in January 2001.

More importantly, the years after the turn of the millennium saw an overall maturing of Apple's product line. After the PowerBook G4, for example, the Power Mac G5, released in June 2003, introduced an easily serviceable tower for grown-ups.

In August 2004, the iMac G5 replaced the iMac, which had itself replaced its fruity predecessors two years before with a more adult-oriented, consumer-assuring all-in-one product that Apple is known for producing.

But perhaps more important to Apple's rise and to Microsoft's decline was the January 2004 introduction of a decidedly more childlike product, the iPod mini, which was the breakaway product in that line, and which went on to solidly secure Apple's growing presence in the consumer electronics market.

Apple is to digital-content consumers what Microsoft is to business. And as the consumerization of IT continues to unfold, Apple's threat to Microsoft can only grow. And grow it will. It's already too late for Microsoft.

There's been quite a bit of discussion – as well there should be – as to whether the consumer-friendlier, Metro-ized Windows 8 will give Microsoft a much-needed boost. One question that hasn't been frequently asked, however, is "Why should it?"

With Android available for those manufacturers and users who prefer a more-open platform, and OS X and iOS available to those who prefer the security of a walled garden, what exactly is the crying consumer need that Windows 8 will satisfy better than Android, iOS, or OS X, other than its ability to run legacy apps?

There is, of course, the possibility that the Metro experience will delight some, but it's going to have to be delightful to make a serious dent in a strong consumer market in which Apple and Google's Android partners have well-established market shares, and which is tunneling its way into the enterprise, one handset and one tablet at a time.

In 2004, Microsoft began its plummet from hegemony. It will be more than a little interesting to see how Steve Ballmer is faring exactly one decade later. Will he try again with his 'Monkey Boy' dance?

And, speaking of the steady slippage of Microsoft's operating system dominance, Dediu adds, "The consequences are dire for Microsoft."

Is Dediu off his rockers? Is he painting a black and truly negative future for Redmond's customers? Probably not. Time will tell, and as always, we will keep you posted.

In other IT and OS news

Oracle said this morning that it will offer a free version of its Application Development Framework (ADF) to software developers.

Dubbed 'Oracle ADF Essentials', the software suite is a slightly stripped-down version of Oracle ADF, the Java EE framework that the company uses to integrate many of its own existing applications, including its Oracle Fusion suite of business software.

The main difference between the lighter ADF Essentials and the full version is that software developers can download ADF Essentials without paying any license fees.

And while the full Oracle ADF framework requires the company's commercial WebLogic Java application server to run, ADF Essentials can be deployed on the open source GlassFish alternative, or on IBM WebSphere.

Both versions of Oracle ADF aim to make it faster for developers to build web applications based on the Model View Controller (MVC) architecture by providing many essential components right from the getgo.

In order to assist in building application frontends, ADF Essentials includes Oracle ADF Faces, which extends the core Java EE platform's JavaServer Faces framework to provide a set of more than 150 prebuilt web user interface components.

Additionally, the Oracle ADF Controller extends the JavaServer Faces Controller layer to allow web apps to serve up more dynamic content. Software developers can then bind these user interface components to business logic using an XML-based metadata abstraction layer.

And on the backend of things, Oracle ADF Business Components provide a set of reusable modules that implement common software design patterns, which can be configured using a simple, declarative syntax.

But Oracle isn't known for a company that offers its software for free. While all of the components included in Oracle ADF Essentials function the same as their commercial cousins, ADF Essentials leaves out a significant part of the paid product's capabilities.

Most significantly, ADF Essentials doesn't include Oracle's ADF security framework, so developers can't integrate their apps with Oracle's granular security controls.

Any security features must be implemented with regular Java EE security features or some other, add-on security framework.

And a number of other features have been left out as well, including the ADF Mobile and Desktop Integration frameworks, data controls for business intelligence (BI), and integration with advanced Oracle Fusion Middleware functions such as support for high availability and clustering, among others.

Source: Asymco.

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