On 4 April 2011 Microsoft will turn 36 years old. During this time it has seen the world change beyond recognition and the company has been fundamental to much of it. Like the world, however, technology keeps evolving and if Microsoft is to remain a key influencer it needs to have a barnstorming next 12 months…
The arrival of Windows 7 in October 2009 righted a great deal of Vista wrongs. We're big fans and it continues to sell in a manner which makes hotcakes feel jealous. Where things get so interesting in 2011 though is the evolving role of the OS.
On the one side Apple has already argued the future is in apps (or 'programmes' as we'd prefer to call them) – and more specifically: how they are delivered. With Mac OS X Lion Apple will bring the App Store to the Mac. It will be a portal for buying approved, vetted programmes and will no doubt be a huge hit with casual users.
Windows 8 leaks have suggested Microsoft will go down the same route, but it has taken a beating so far and the dangers are clear. Furthermore an even more challenging alternative is the model of Google and Chrome OS. While we'd argue its success is far from assured Chrome OS points at a world where the role of the OS is to fade into the background. After all, if we really can live in just a web browser do we need Windows at all?
Chrome OS and Lion will both launch next year and allegedly Windows 8 will get its first public preview at CES in early January. Microsoft needs to wow us from the off and break its traditional cycle of one-good-one-bad OSes.