I know it’s illegal in Canada to claim knowledge of future events but I am allowed to think and extrapolate from what’s happening now to a few months down the road, so here goes:
- M$ will release “8” early for ARM. They have to and because there’s less lock-in on ARM (none), they can. I think panic has set in Redmond and they are extremely anxious to push something out the door before Android/Linux declares victory over Apple. I would bet the ARMed version comes out months before the x86 version. This is new territory and will increase divisions within Wintel because many of the ARMed players are outside the x86 camp. “Partners” will be feeling betrayed. This will also put another nail in the coffin of x86 desktops. If different is OK for M$ in mobile, it is OK with consumers. Welcome to Android/Linux and GNU/Linux folks on retail shelves everywhere.
- GNU/Linux will arrive on retail shelves everywhere in every format. This is inevitable and we saw a few more devices available in 2011. 2012 will open the floodgates. M$ blinked by going to ARM. The world noticed and GNU/Linux will be able to rush in through the opened door. Retailers and OEMs will take the opportunity to make more money selling products running on FLOSS. The x86 OEMs are hungry and wanting to feed at the same trough the ARMed OEMs have been feeding at, both Android/Linux and GNU/Linux.
- LibreOffice will overtake OpenOffice.org. The flood of factory-installed GNU/Linux systems will trigger the change. Consumers and businesses will see the advantages of PCs equipped with an office suite at no extra cost.
- ARM will invade the server space. The products became available in 2011. They will be adopted widely in 2012 from small servers on LANs to racks and rooms and facilities full of them. It just makes sense that fanless units at lower prices will be popular and the superior power consumption will be the deciding factor in large roll-outs. Software can be ported. Power consumption cannot be lower with x86 except at much greater cost and in the future. ARM has lower power consumption now. There is no need to wait on Intel. M$ isn’t even interested in this space so it will be GNU/Linux all the way.
- Google will win over Oracle lifting a cloud from Android/Linux. At the same time Barnes and Noble will trounce M$ lifting a cloud from Linux. This will inflict a death blow on software patents. Legislators and courts will take note of the stupidity of software patents and trash them.
- The result of all these changes is that M$’s bottom line will take a serious hit. No growth is visible. A downward slide will begin. Once there is competition on retail shelves, M$ will have to reduce prices seriously to compete. In servers, energy consumption and space will dictate ARM will play a big role. Once GNU/Linux clients are widely found on LANs, businesses will see less need for AD and servers that run it. Forget the cloud. M$ has no monopoly there. It’s hard to put a number on the combined effect but I expect it will be of the order of $1billion in the client division and server division, about the same as the cost of paying off the OEMs producing GNU/Linux netbooks. This time no payoff is possible. M$ has no leverage on the non-x86 OEMs. Even Barnes and Noble fought back… Chuckle. With the discredit M$’s software patents will receive, the x86 OEMs will be less fearful of M$ in every way. As the x86 consumer PCs subside, x86 OEMs will look to GNU/Linux to increase margins.
All in all, it looks to be another great year for FLOSS. Consumers will finally realize they have a choice and make the choice.