The price of MSFT shares continues to rise despite the shrinkage in PC-sales so investors seem to believe “Microsoft isn’t "just that Windows company" anymore.”
see Microsoft no longer the Windows company. Does Wall Street agree?
They are wrong. Without that other OS needing M$’s servers holding hands, authenticating, sharing files etc. There would be millions of servers eliminated. Without that other OS being the only OS to run M$’s office suite, one whole division would be a shrunken head. Without huge investment in those two or three segments, there would be no need for a lot of databases running on M$’s server as well. You see, it’s a house of cards. It’s the current large installed base holding it all up. Slow PC sales, cloud services from Amazon and Google, and diversification of PCs to other platforms based on Linux, all render the products M$ supplies unnecessary or over-priced.
So, how long will the installed base keep M$ afloat? That base has been flat for a year or two now and it has nowhere to go but down. The decline will pick up speed as it goes because the same networking/positive feedback effects that built the monopoly will soon work against it. Already huge businesses, schools and governments have severely cut their dependence on M$. The advantages of that move will become more clear and more economically feasible just as they were with Android/Linux and ARM.
The first to go will be consumer PC licences. Consumers are mostly fine with Android/Linux or GNU/Linux on ARM and x86/amd64. Businesses are the most locked in with $billions invested in M$’s technology. They will ride that investment into the ground but we already see that XP survives because businesses don’t want to buy anything more from M$. That will grow as more businesses see the advantages of escaping monopoly. M$ just cannot compete with $0 licences and better performance and longer-lived infrastructure.
For businesses to really get the hint they will have to see not only GNU/Linux being “good enough”. They have to see the necessity of adopting GNU/Linux for survival/competing. The high cost of maintenance/security is obvious. The ability to abandon M$’s office suite for Libreoffice became obvious for many when ODF came along. Governments have embraced and thrived with ODF. Businesses can as well. Tools like Google Documents and LibreOffice make it easy to change.
If a business has a mess of GNU/Linux PCs they don’t need M$’s server/client licences, nor M$’s office suite, nor M$’s databases, nor anything M$ offers. Think M$ can live off its cash for a while? Yes, but they can’t grow and they can’t remain huge. They could diversify but they would have to work for a living and criminals just don’t get that concept so they will struggle and die instead. Within the next few years, investors should sell short, probably about the time the pile of cash becomes less than a few $billion.