It is still the most widely used operating system in the world. And by a more than wide margin: it is used by three quarters of all users, which is something superlative even knowing that twenty years ago it was 95%. It helps a lot that it remains the default system on most computers. Each redesign has a direct and profound impact on the productivity of billions of people, including officials in administrations, schools, libraries, armies, gas stations, banks and offices, where Microsoft Office remains king. Still, their reincarnations have died tragically young for years, some canceled before their first birthday . That is why the last one seems so extraordinary. In twenty years that I have been covering the world of technology, it is the first time that I have seen the trade press as united as Bayern Munich in praising a version of Windows. It is an exceptional moment.
For starters, it’s prettier. Your home button is now in the lower center of the screen and the menu unfolds like a smartphone, clean and light. Mobile-PC synchronization offers different desktop configurations that adapt to each screen and are a bit reminiscent of the window managers that Linux users use. Many have celebrated that Cortana, their virtual assistant, is no longer out to help with the installation. The real news, however, is that Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, has presented Windows 11 as a “platform platform” that wants to integrate native applications from Apple, Android and all developers who want to put their apps in the store Windows. Nothing exclusive, all interoperability. More than an aesthetic change, this is a tectonic movement.
Western software has three continents. On the one hand, the Apple platform with its Macs, its iPhones, its iPods, its iPads and its TV, an imperial ecosystem managed with an iron fist from the Apple Store. On the other side is Google, with its Androids, its Chrome OS and its Google Play Store. And then there was Microsoft, with its Office and its Windows, which seemed to dissolve into an ocean of irrelevance, when suddenly it seems to want to become the new gateway to the internet. Nadella replaced Steve Ballmer as CEO in 2014, and since then he has become not only the anti-Ballmer, but the anti-Bill Gates as well. And he’s so clever that he wants to open up and give away Windows to become the portal to Azure, Microsoft’s cloud . I’d say he’s been planning that move ever since Azure was opened to all major Linux distributions. In fact, Microsoft has been a platinum member of the Linux Foundation since 2016.
It was Steve Jobs’ master move in 2001, when he returned to Apple with a Linux-based operating system called Darwin that quickly became OS X. At the time, it was the apple company that claimed to be a free and open system. , in the face of the oppressive and dark rule of the monolithic Microsoft. Well, today the roles are changed, and Windows 11, which will be installed in the computers of three quarters of the planet, could be a shot to the jugular of Apple and Google, which are now facing lawsuits for market abuse. But it’s also a shot in the forehead for Amazon, which makes up 32% of the cloud and is the only competition from Azure, which has 19%. The final promise of Windows 11 will be to be able to find your desktop everywhere, through any device, from any computer. The reality is that it will be in Azure, kept under seven keys on Microsoft’s servers.