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Analysis: What would happen if Microsoft died?

Take a walk in a world without Windows

Ever wondered about what PCs and technology as a whole would be like if Microsoft's Windows didn't exist? We have. Here's our vision of a life without Windows.

Hardware ecosystem: Chaos until a new overlord rises

Perhaps the most powerful ripples of the post-Windows shockwave will be felt in the PC hardware and peripherals marketplace.

The lack of a dominant OS target will cause the once homogenised device driver landscape to fracture, with vendors chasing after the popular platforms du jour while neglecting their legacy installed base.

Plug and play will be replaced by 'plug and pray' as frustrated customers struggle to match devices to their respective OS choices, while wondering if they'll regret their selections once the next tide of disruptive development rolls in.

In this chaotic world of hyperinnovation, vendors will seek to align themselves with the perceived market leaders of the day.
Products will be judged not by their features or design quality, but by how many 'works with x' or 'ready for y' logos the vendor manages to squeeze onto the product packaging.

Shopping for a new product will become a sick game of Sudoku, with customers scrambling to align the various component values into the correct sequential pattern.

Success equals finding a group of complementary products that all sport at least one common logo program certification - sort of the new Holy Grail of post-Windows IT.

The good news is that nature abhors a vacuum. In time, new players will emerge to redefine the PC hardware ecosystem around their particular platforms.

This, in turn, will cause a shakeout among the software and hardware vendor communities, with those who bet on the wrong platform falling by the wayside.

But the real question will be: What kind of force will this newly ascendant leader wield?

Will it follow in the footsteps of Microsoft and use its standards-setting power to level the playing field?

Or will it take the 1980s-era IBM approach and try to consolidate its death grip through proprietary lock-ins and similarly anticompetitive practices?

Bottom line: Just because Windows is out of the picture doesn't mean that you should expect a renaissance period of hardware innovation.

The post-Microsoft world is just as likely to be a chaotic nightmare, full of competing vendor fiefdoms and walled technology encampments - in other words, a return to the real Dark Ages of PC hardware.

NEXT PAGE: Abandon all hope?

  1. We look at what'll happen to tech if Microsoft dies
  2. Client applications: kiss consistency good-bye
  3. Developer tools: Bloody purges and API turf wars will shape the new standards
  4. Hardware ecosystem: Chaos until a new overlord rises
  5. Abandon all hope?

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