Daily Archives: January 10, 2010

Will an Apple tablet with iWork help bring on the end of Windows for the average user?

You know those often quoted statistics that Windows powers 90% of the world’s computers, or that 30,000,000 Powerpoints are given each day?

Do you ever wonder where these numbers come from?

Me too. The latter appears to come from Microsoft itself. Given my own made up statistic that 95% of them disobey most evidence-based rules for conveying engaging memorable messages, I have a lot of work ahead of me to offer up alternatives!

But what of the percentage of computers figures?

It depends on which computers and who’s using them.

It’s perhaps an apocryphal story of the Microsoft spokeswoman addressing a group of professional moviemakers touting certain wares. Allegedly she said in passing, “Of course, Windows operates on 95% of computers”. To which one wag replied, “Not in this room, lady”.

What then should we do with the figures we see quoted the last few Steve Jobs keynotes that 50% of Apple store purchasers of Macs are switchers, presumably from Windows. Not new computer users, nor Apple users updating, but switchers.

What will be the impact of an Apple tablet on potential switchers, I wonder?

If an Apple tablet is a glorified Kindle, the answer is nothing.

But what if Apple has developed a new device, one much more attuned to the needs of a public who is not concerned with operating systems, Tuesday patches, malware, spyware, trojans and viruses? What if the vast number of general public users just want to work with email, surf the net, chat and social network, watch movies and listen to music?

Leave it to the vast bulk of that purported 95% to run Windows on a desktop machine: airlines, banks, enterprise, universities and various research institutes. But what of Mom and Pop, their kids, the self-employed, SMEs?

What if the tablet was actually more than a reader but a worker? An iWorker, able to use a form of the iWork productivity suite now available for Macs? I’ve hinted at this in other blog entries, but a recent New York Times report seems to suggest something really is going in with iWork and the tablet:

Source: The New York Times, January 8, 2007 “A Deluge of Devices for Reading and Surfing” by Brad Stone and Nick Bilton,

Let’s also imagine that’s it’s a device that runs iPhone 4.0, to take advantage of some of the 120,000 apps. Apple has in its iTunes Store. Some of those will be reader apps, but I’m betting Steve Jobs will do to publishing what he’s done with music and movies: allow his hardware and software to be portals for purchasing. I don’t buy the idea that all publications will have their own apps. And I’m betting that with Pages we’ll all be able to engage in self-publishing, and I am breathless with what will happen with Apple’s presentation software, Keynote.

If it turns out this way, we’ll have a device which will surprise and delight Windows users who will no longer have to fear opening their email, wonder if they have the latest drivers, or wonder which tech support system to ring – the hardware make, the graphics chip maker, Microsoft, the application creator, like Adobe, or the printer manufacturer.

What will happen to the world of computing when the operating system is of no great consequence?

We no longer call it computing, that’s what.

We no longer think of buying a PC.

Computers will be those large mainframes spitting out airline timetables and tickets, crunching large databases, just like it was before the personal computer came along. Talk about back to the future!

The rest of us will be making the transfer from laptops and desktops, learning a new way of interacting with our information, and wondering how we ever were so short-sighted as to think personal computing was all about the operating system.