Gartner: Windows 8 Signals End of Win32 Era

Microsoft's upcoming OS will mark the end of the traditional Windows platform, thanks to WinRT being poised as the dominating platform for Windows OS, according to a report by Gartner.

This analysis comes from a findings titled "Windows 8 Changes Windows as We Know It," released in June. The firm assesses that Microsoft's approach with Windows 8 is their effort to create a unifying OS environment on traditional PCs, smartphones and tablet devices.

"Windows 8 is more than a major upgrade to Windows -- it's a technology shift," said Steve Kleynhans, vice president of research for Gartner. "We don't see technology shifts too often; the only other one Microsoft's client OS has gone through was the move from DOS technology to Windows NT technology, which began in 1993 and took eight years, ending with the introduction of Windows XP in 2001."

While Microsoft may be ready to shift how its platform operates, Gartner also found that transition for end-users won't be timely -- the firm predicts that most will continue to use Win32 for the next 10 years.

However, it found that Win32 apps are already on the decline -- less than 50 percent of currently used apps are still of the older Win32 variety.

Gartner said the reason why Win32 apps are on the decline in enterprises is because most shops have already made the jump to Web-based HTML5 applications. And to get shops to jump to the Windows Metro-style apps, Microsoft will need to make WinRT apps necessary.

"Fewer Win32  applications means less of a requirement to run Windows," said the report. "If Microsoft is successful in getting developers to write to WinRT, it will extend the need for Windows in the enterprise by reversing the decline in applications that require Windows.

In other words, Microsoft will have to find a way to force  users to adopt Metro-style apps. This can be done with its unification plan -- one app that can run on all Windows 8 devices.

And this platform unification is what Microsoft is hoping helps to integrate mobile devices running Windows 8, said the Gartner report. However, it sees that Windows 8's multiple environment platforms may hurt the adoption of personal devices running the new OS from being utilized in the enterprise.

"Windows 8's current integration of the two environments (Windows Metro and windows Desktop) is jarring and will need to evolve before significant adoption beyond stand-alone tablets will happen in enterprises," said the report.

Gartner reported that if Microsoft wants WinRT platform to catch on, especially in the enterprise, Microsoft must make sure that Windows 8 ships as solid as possible -- something it does not foresee happening.

"Gartner believes that the next release of Windows (Windows could appear in two years or less, sometime in 2014," said the report. "This is similar to the cadences of Windows 2000 and Windows XP. It would likely be a polishing version of Windows 8, completed in a shorter time frame than usually required."


About the Author

Chris Paoli (@ChrisPaoli5) is the associate editor for Converge360.


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