The thing about dominance is that just like it begins it can so easily end. Intensely competitive products from Apple and Google are landing severe blows, leading some to believe Microsoft’s best days are behind it.

Gartner has published a new forecast today, saying that unless Microsoft makes some worthy ground in the key tablet and smartphone market in the next few years, it could soon find itself become irrelevant. Yup, just like that.

Back in 2005, Microsoft’s Windows operating system was installed on more than 97 percent of devices, but voices have been growing that the technology titan is very likely to experience a dramatic decline in the coming years.

Carolina Milanesi, a Gartner analyst says that Microsoft’s share of the overall computing market is very likely to drop to 14 percent by as early as 2017:

“You need to own consumers in terms of mobile and tablet in order to remain relevant in this market. Consumers have options and consumers are choosing. Microsoft cannot take that for granted that they’ll be the one to be chosen.”

The analyst believes that competition in the PC, tablet and smartphone market is getting fiercer with the passage of time, and users are no longer limited to Windows now. There are several full-featured alternatives on the Linux and Mac platforms that are user-friendly as well as more affordable.

The research firm predicts that by 2017 the shipments of Android devices will outnumber any other operating system on the market.

In fact, just by the end of next year we will see Android on more than one billion devices. And it does not stop here. This shift in consumer preference will cause developers to focus their efforts on these competing platforms.

Of course, this is just an analyst forecast. How things will play out in the real world remains to be seen. Microsoft is working hard to unify the experience of its products and services, and the upcoming Windows Blue upgrade looks set to improve the experience introduced with Windows 8.

Time will tell whether that is enough.

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  • 1stkorean

    Although I agree with some thing here, for the most part I think it id bunk. Personally I think it is past time for Ballmer to go, he is to old and not forward thinking. He has had his time in the sun so now it is time for a younger person with fresh forward thinking ideals.

    • http://tranceworldnow.wordpress.com/ Robert Trance

      Could be good, a leader change, eventhough that did not work out for Apple too well….as example

  • WillyThePooh

    Android and iOS is not able to replace my computing need yet. Just the file system has already given me more headache than what win8 has. Linux is too diverse. Even their installation file format is not able to unify. iMac is too expensive to me. Even upgrade from 10.x to 10.(x+1) costs money. Some people may able to afford it though.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lostelrooy Ibrahim Ibrahim Umar

    I don’t think so rather the opposite because people will give Windows phone and Windows 8 on surface a try more when they become more familiar with the interface on their new Laptops and desktops . Not to mention SkyDrive, office, Xbox … I believe they will only grow but the marketing needs to be better

    • http://www.ahmedeltawil.com Ahmed Eltawil

      I agree. People like a unified experience across their devices and Microsoft is working hard to accomplish that and more.

  • Rex

    Which absolutely explains enterprises still using Windows XP… Huh, what? I can imagine the possibility that it looses the majority of consumers by then, THE POSSIBLITY (Many enterprises still use 20 year old solutions, MS isnt going anywhere in the enterprise). Becoming irrelevant is a long way further down the line. I would even call Apple before the iPhone and iPad as relevant, so what would it take to be irrelevant, less than 1% marketshare? That postulate alone make this full on BS. So once I get past the hype of the analysis, is it even realistic to think that it could loose its majority status by 2017. That would take all users to drop computers by then and go to non-MS tablets. I think this highly unlikely. PCs and therefore windows will still be needed for a while, giving MS a great chance in the tablet world, and this is what makes the postulate that Gartner is trying to spew as full on hilarious. I think the possibilty of Gartner going out of buisiness is much higher than their prediction becoming true. Seriously, people paying for this will quickly realize they are better off gambling at the casinos.

  • Maestro247

    And Gartner knows everything? No way in hell this will happen. MS would stay afloat just on their enterprise licensing. To me Apple is seeming more irrelevant with their lackluster innovation these days. Gartner got it wrong and that isn’t a first for them.

  • Ray C

    Microsoft isn’t going anywhere anytime. This isn’t a situation like Kodak where they just refused to get onboard with new tech. First, the idea “Windows powered 97% of all devices in the past.” There are different types of devices now. There aren’t just either desktops or laptops. There are also tablets and phones. For whatever reason Microsoft was first but didn’t execute their strategy on in the phone/tablet/PDA sectors. But let’s not forget about the X-Box family. Microsoft also has a familiar name. People will be willing to give MS phones and tablets more of a chance in the future. Plus, it’s probably better that they have two competitors instead of just one. They can knock each other off some and also not focus only on MS. Plus, the “everything about apple is great” myth won’t last forever. They will have a down period at some point. If only they’d executed better in the phone market from the beginning, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion. What I hope they will eventually do is find a way to entice people with savings and incentives to have multiple Windows devices.