It will have a side effect, however. Desktop users will be alienated. Microsoft has already done this 2 times in the past, ME and Vista. They can't afford to do it again. Most of their profits come from their desktop OS market and their office market. Without their mainstay in the OS market, they will be unable to continue as a software company. All of their other products are copies of existing software, and have all suffered staggering losses.
There is another problem with Microsoft. They have poor leadership. Even if Gates was evil, he was still a programmer. He programmed at least 1 piece of commercially successful software (Altair Basic). Balmer, on the other hand, is an MBA. He has not programmed one piece of software in his life. He instituted stack ranking, described by Kurt Eichenwald:
Every current and former Microsoft employee I interviewed, every one, cited stack ranking as the most destructive process inside of Microsoft
... If you were on a team of 10 people, you walked in the first day knowing that, no matter how good everyone was, two people were going to get a great review, seven were going to get mediocre reviews, and one was going to get a terrible review source
This caused projects at Microsoft to stagnate as they became entwined into an increasingly large bureaucracy that prevented actual work from happening. Projects like Windows Reader (Originally an eBook), Vista, and Zune, where Microsoft had several years on their competition ended up being released years later, stripped of features and far from their original purpose. There is no reason that win9 will be any different from win8.
I believe that in the next 5 years, users will be increasingly motivated to change OSs as Microsoft takes yet another plunge in their profits. There are currently 2 other viable options to windows: OS X and Linux (I refer to the FOSS BSDs in this statement as well, though they are not strictly linux). Although OS X has a large fanboy userbase, I do not see it gaining more than 5-10% over the next 5 years, as its overpriced hardware is not comparable to the many cheaper PC manufacturers' products. However, Linux has the power to take the computer world by the storm in the next 5 years, as its many variations form themselves against a unique subset of the computing world.
Linux has a large commercial userbase already, as many companies have searched for a more economically viable solution to windows in the post-recession world. According to two surveys by W3Tech and Security Space released in August 2011 and 2009, respectively, Linux now runs 63.9% or greater of all servers. According to a 2012 survey of companies with $500 million or more in revenues, almost 80% of them foresee an increase in linux usage in their company in the next 12 months, and 71.8% are planning to add more linux computers in order to support "Big Data."
The big obstacle we now face is widespread desktop adoption of linux. However, this may have already begun. Current articles place linux usage from 8-10% and growing (source source). With the failure of win8 eminent, we may finally see Linus's World Domination Plan put into effect."
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