There was a pretty interesting thread on digg today about the potential impact of Leopard on Vista. I posted there but wanted to put my comments here as well.
I’ve been using various systems for since the early 80s – mostly DOS or Windows. I got a MacBook Pro in April. I bring my MBP to work. I also have a generic HP laptop on my desk. My work consists of reading, writing, editing, browsing, emailing, IMing, calculating, etc. Guess which system I use more? The other day I needed to do a quick video for a new business pitch. Guess which system I used for that.
The fact of the matter is that there are plenty of standout features of OSX – things like Garageband and iMovie – can someone point out the out-of-box equivalents for Windows? Has essentially switching to OSX at work caused me any hardship? Nope. With the exception of our time and billing system (which I could run in Parallels if I wanted to) there is no need from me to use the Windows system at all.
Do I think that Leopard is going to hurt Vista? Probably not; but what it demonstrates does – that there is room on the corporate desktop for alternatives to Microsoft. Linux and open source are also chipping away. I mentioned a discussion I had with a senior editor at Forbes in another thread a while ago. He told me about a major company that we’ve all heard of that faced a challenge. They have 15,000 employees and another 100,000 seasonal employees. The 15,000 are on Exchange. The 100,000 didn’t get email because it was prohibitive. Soon, thanks to Zimbra, they will.
If there are credible, available, affordable, workable and feature-rich alternatives to Microsoft, why wouldn’t they begin finding their way into the enterprise? At the end of the day, virtually every business in America has one goal: to make money. You can make money by getting more OR by spending less. Microsoft might offer software that helps on the getting more side of the equation but they hardly do on the spending less.
If you’re a CIO at a mid-sized company with a thousand PCs that will need to be upgraded in order to run Vista, do you make the switch? Or do you think, I can stick with XP and start looking at some open source alternatives that could save a ton of money and make me look like a hero.
The fact of the matter is that the Windows monoculture is slipping away. It isn’t going to be replaced by Leopard or any other single OS or environment. Instead – thanks in part to wider choice in applications and new thinking from IT pros entering the workforce – a more diverse, productive and economical landscape is likely.