Forrester: Forget Macs. In business, it's still all about Windows

Forrester: Forget Macs. In business, it's still all about Windows

Summary: In spite of the continual noise around Macs gaining marketshare, Windows still totally and completely rules the enterprise roost.


In spite of the continual noise around Macs gaining marketshare, Windows still totally and completely rules the enterprise roost.

That's another of the findings of the Forrester Research report I cited earlier today -- "Enterprise Desktop And Web 2.0/SaaS Platform Trends, 2007. 

Consumer love aside, Macs still just don't matter in the business world. From the report, released by Forrester on March 31:

"Enterprises’ share of Windows users dropped by nearly 4% during the year, but Microsoft’s monopoly remains undisputed: Some 95% of business users run Windows. While 2007 was a big year for Apple, with its enterprise share growing threefold to 4.2%, uptake remains limited to enthusiasts and small workgroups. IT departments crave standardization, and Macs pose too many problems for IT departments. The verdict for enterprise-focused vendors is clear: Unless your market is a niche business group, Windows is the only desktop you need support."

Before you ask, I already did: Did Microsoft fund or influence this study in some way? A company official told me plainly that "Forrester doesn't take vendor funding" for its work.

Next question: Does Forrester think Microsoft walks on water? What about Windows Vista -- a Harvard case study about which MUST be in the making? (Possible title: "Microsoft's Vista: How not to develop and market a product".)

For the record, Forrester is none too bullish about Vista's uptake in the enterprise, either:

"Adoption of Vista among Windows users increased by a little more than five percentage points during 2007 to end at 6.3%. But, much to Microsoft’s dismay, even this conservative growth cannot be attributed to upgrades from XP, which remained fixed at 90% throughout 2007. Upgrades are likely to have come from Windows 2000; its drop of six percentage points mirrored Vista’s growth. "

Microsoft is increasingly worrying about Apple in the consumer space. In fact, Microsoft is increasingly worrying about the consumer space, in general, which isn't too surprising since the Redmondians already have sewn up the enterprise and needs new markets to conquer in order to keep its growth rates up.

But in the enterprise, Apple isn't tops on Microsoft's list of companies to watch. IBM is. And given that the lion's share of Microsoft's revenues still comes from enterprise, not consumer, sales, I'd argue that Microsoft shouldn't let itself be distracted by all the noise around Apple's consumer market-share gains.

The part of this equation that is less cut-and-dried is the extent to which consumer success translates into business success. This is the reason that some Softies are increasingly worried about Apple's consumer laptop/notebook, cellphone and digital-music-player markets. Microsoft wants to emulate the Apple halo effect in the worst way.

However, more than one business user I know has said that s/he couldn't care less about which cell phones are popular among consumers. Instead, the focus should be on which cell phones work best in syncing up with Exchange Server and other corporate e-mail products/standards. And do warm and fuzzy feelings about an Xbox or a Zune really portend whether an IT buyer will gravitate toward Windows PCs, SharePoint Server or Microsoft-hosted CRM? Again, I'm not convinced….

What about you? Should Microsoft be worried about Apple's, Google's and other companies' consumer-market triumphs? Can the Redmondians afford to stick to their business knitting and just let the consumer chips fall where they may?

Topics: Windows, Apple, Hardware, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Canna get a big Duh ?

    • Market Niche?

      Does Forrester ever do real research or do they just specialize in the market niche of showing the obvious popular opinion? Everytime I read one of their pronouncements I want to repeat the "Duh!" sound.

      Must be nice work to get, how do I sign up?
  • Have to be careful with "business" and "enterprise"

    I assume that the research focuses on
    LARGE companies. Apple's best shot is
    small companies that do not have or
    want and IT dept. There are millions of
    such companies. They really only need
    an office suite, web and email.

    For such companies, OSX is pretty
    trouble free and is easy to manage.

    As for "enterprise", I assume that the
    research again focused on large
    companies and government. In
    colleges, a large "enterprise" market,
    Macs are becoming far more common,
    with some schools hitting almost 50-50
    parity with Windows.

    If Apple could make further inroads in
    the 2 areas mentioned, their growth
    would be enormous.
    • business and enterprise

      >>If Apple could make further inroads in
      the 2 areas mentioned, their growth
      would be enormous

      But it's not. We who are in small business could care less about what you fanboys get your rocks off by.
      • Mac Envy

        My My you should see a doctor about your Mac envy problem! They are just computers you use what ever get the job done.
        • well,

          that's why he uses Windows. And Not Mac. Because Mac just can't get it up long enough to get it done.
      • Well put

        [i]But it's not. We who are in small business could care less about what you fanboys get your rocks off by.[/i]

        hasta la Vista, bah-bie
      • Smart

        Go troll elsewhere.
        • I hope your not talking to me

          You don't tell me what to do. Nobody appointed you policeman here.
          hasta la Vista, bah-bie
          • wish granted

            first of all, it's "you're". There is a difference between bad grammar and bad spelling. Secondly, he replied to something which you quoted word for word with a smiley face. I'm going to go out on a limb and say he wasn't talking to you, but you can think that if it makes you feel better.

            Now back to the point: The study reflects reality, not what reality should be. Any tech can and probably will tell you that it is possible to support ANYTHING in a mixed environment. That doesn't mean it's preferable to having a universal shop. If they have a use I'm all for supporting them, but if you're just going to say "well technically, with some hax, it CAN do this," well, that doesn't provide me with any unique benefits.

            Since MS is established (and with good reason...they occasionally do something someone can us, you know) right now they represent the bright line standard for unique benefits.
          • Grammar police (?)

            [i]first of all, it's "you're". There is a difference between bad grammar and bad spelling.[/i]

            Oh boyyyy.... When one types in haste...

            [i]Secondly, he replied to something which you quoted word for word with a smiley face.[/i]

            So that's what really put you off, isn't it. Well I happened to agree with the sentiment and the way he put it, so I think it's my attitude you have a problem more than anything.

            [i]I'm going to go out on a limb[/i]

            You do that. And while we're on the subject, calling people trolls who don't agree with you isn't my idea of anything beyond the typical fanboy response. Just so you know.

            [i]and say he wasn't talking to you, but you can think that if it makes you feel better.[/i]

            Totally irrelevant. But I think you already know that.
            hasta la Vista, bah-bie
          • If I was

            You'd be under arrest. Language is an abstraction layer that allow us to represent thoughts. If you don't use proper grammar, which is the syntax error of the human world, I have less certainty that I know what you really think. Typing in haste is a reason, not an excuse. I type 100 words a minute and still make the attempt, and I'm not alone. Show me any everyone else some respect. That's just lazy typing. It says not only do you not want to think it over, you're unwilling to pause long enough to straighten out what you really think.

            Feel free to have a problem. I like Macs, I don't like supporting a mixed environment. You didn't say anything about that, so that makes you as much of a troll as him. In case you missed the big letters this whole article was about Mac at the enterprise level. Whether they exist is a matter of fact, not conjecture. People don't just make a study like this up. Address the issue.
          • Well maybe you shouldn't be wasting your time then..

            Know what I mean..

            You didn't like the attitude of my response, so you decided to become board policeman, wagging your finger at those who don't share your view, nitpicking at every "i" that isn't dotted, every "t" that isn't crossed.

            If you consider me a troll, then by all means, please don't bother responding to me anymore. I'm still going to post in anyway I see fit, as long as it's under the guidelines of what ZDNet will allow. You have no control over that. I suggest you accept that.
            hasta la Vista, bah-bie
      • From my research...

        The mac might be a better solution for small business than Windows.

        For 3 grand you get a server and an unlimited user Mail, group Calendar, Wiki, Podcasting, and unlimited Client Access licenses.

        Microsoft's SBS will screw you over on the CAL's.
      • scary

        a personal attack from a mac user? How uncouth.

        I have 750 computers running windows in a medium sized business. How many small businesses would you say that amounts to?

        Additionally, I'm in charge of technology for a hs. Do I want kids to have exposure to macs? Who wouldn'?. I don't want them totally clueless. Do I want to teach them a semester long computer apps class on a mac? Not on your life. I'd like them to be able to use two fingers when they grow up.

        Our superintendent, who is essentially the ceo of a district in which I comprise onnley a fifth of the students and computers, agrees.

        Let mac do what it or two users in small shops, and stay the hell out of my school. Talk about your small business all you want, it would take 100 of them to brush the number of windows machines here and 530 to make up the number in the district. There's your market share. Macs are a pain to support in a mixed environment, period.
        • Why?

          "Macs are a pain to support in a mixed environment,
          period." So, expand and tell us why...

          I hear these statements all of the time and I am so curious
          because I am a home user and only do "personal" IT for
          very small businesses (all use Macs - but, don't let the fact
          that they are my specialty delude you into thinking I don't
          know pc's).

          On a small scale Macs are a very viable alternative to
          having an "IT" department (server easy, networking a cinch,
          no need to hardly ever reboot, very user friendly, very hard
          for the inept user to mess up... etc.) they are much more
          affordable in the long run.

          These continual statements only make me think that the
          fault would be with a lazy IT department rather than a
          problem to support - they need very little support, if any,
          and they play very nicely with Windows networks - have for
          a very long time.
          • Lazy IT

            Well, us lazy it people could tell you that as a small workgroup there is nothing better, but as a enterprise wide solution they are a pain. Macs work fine a dozen at a time. When they don't work is when I can buy a full PC Lab WITH sw and 5 years next day parts (and repair them in generally 15 minutes or less). I can deploy image, manage security, and have seamless integration with AD. I can, for example, control via group policy restricted applications or push bookmarks. If permissions or software changes change dynamically I can adjust them with a policy change instead of touching 750 machines. Even if everything works, the amount of centralized administration you can reasonably expect from Macs is a fraction of what I can do with a 2003 AD environment. I got my macs working with AD, and still the most you could do was map drives and authenticate, which was better than a kick in the pants, but not as nice as a squeeze.

            I am not arguing macs are worthless. What I will argue is that all our Mac labs served a specific purpose and by and large were setup and forget jobs. Any deployment, permission changes, and the like remained difficult. I don't doubt there is a Linux solution or two you can use to hack it together, but then instead of one os I have 3. If you haven't done tech support for a medium or large business, I genuinely think you might not get it. In a large environment, unless you are specialized, you just dont have the time to toy with 3 OSs and the user support, interoperability, and substitution for "Standard" programs you have to do. In your environment, macs may be swell, in mine they simply introduce a new headache.
    • The plain facts are...

      ...I don't believe Apple is making any serious inroads in small and mid-sized businesses either. I haven't seen an Apple in *any* business in at least 10 years. Schools and homes only.
      • designers.

        apple is in every design office i have ever been in (not counting architecture, though it is in a fair number of those, as well). also, any video production outfit.
        • Serious video production...

          ...has gone to Windows machines. Final Cut is a good consumer program, but nobody in the video production industry takes it very seriously now. At one time Apple had some good partners with serious video applications (Adobe Premier, Avid, etc.) but those have moved over to Windows based PCs.

          Yes, Apple still has market share in design houses, but even those are shrinking. I've never heard of a design house switching form PCs to Macs, but I've heard plenty of the opposite lately.