The ultimate lock-in is having software in ROM on a particular device. MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) is a project to allow many thousands of arcade games embedded in old machines to run on modern PCs. To the extent that porting such an application is a big job, it is noteworthy that Google was able to do that in only 4 days to the Native Client of their Chrome browser.
“The port of MAME was relatively challenging; combined with figuring out how to port SDL-based games and load resources in Native Client, the overall effort took us about 4 days to complete.”
Shades of M$’s fear of Netscape providing a competitive platform… Google not only can do that through their browser but also through Android/Linux and web applications. The locks in the lock-in are being pried open one after another. How many applications, industries, businesses, individuals and PCs will escape M$’s prison in 2012? It could be hundreds of millions of PCs shifted from XP to GNU/Linux and a similar number of new PCs coming with nothing but a browser to access web applications.
In 2011, 12.5% of PCs shifted from XP to something (by death or OS change) but only 14.4% took on “7” while 24% of the world’s PCs were newly produced. 61% of new PCs got “7”ened. 39% did not. That’s a lot of potential breakage for the monopoly. 5% of new PCs got MacOS. Some replacement PCs got XP, but not many because XP’s share is declining rapidly. The slow decline of that other OS’s installed base hides a rapid decline in share of shipments.
Assuming web share=actual share, let’s do the accounting:
- opening installed base of PCs = 1231 million
- new PCs + 361million
- scrapped PCs – Y
- MacOS – 16.7million
- “7” – 200million
- GNU/Linux – Z
- closing installed base of PCs – 1281
Using W3Schools’ numbers, (Open x 31.1% + 200)/close = 0.455 and (Open x 7.8% +16.7)/close = 0.088. We can solve these two independent equations for the opening and closing installed base of PCs. We assume that all 200million licences went to new PCs although some may have gone onto older PCs, the best possible situation for M$… Doing high school maths gives the opening installed base as 1231 millions and the closing installed base as 1281 millions. That leaves scrapped old PCs + new GNU/Linux PCs as 1281 – 1231 -361 +200 +16.7 = 95.3 million. There will also be old PCs converted to GNU/Linux. We can estimate how many PCs die of old age from the fact that even an old PC has some value and recyclers usually get a crack at them before they are scrapped. The recycler of working but old PCs here is Computers for Schools in major part. They distribute 8 year old PCs free of charge. PCs less than 8 years old will be repurposed rather than scrapped. 8 years ago was 2004 when the world produced about 200 million PCs per annum. Clearly, a lot (~100 million) of older PCs are being recycled with GNU/Linux and not destroyed. Any way you count them, a lot of PCs went to GNU/Linux in 2011 and more will go in 2012.