What if Windows 10 fails?

What if Windows 10 fails?

For the first time since Windows 3.1, the success or failure of a new Microsoft operating system version carries consequences.

Nonetheless, these experts feel, the best thing Windows 10 has going for it right now is the lack of a viable alternative.

If Windows 10 were to become a market failure on the scale of Windows 8, would OEMs and device makers abandon the Windows platform outright? And then would users and businesses follow?

"I think the scenario you're painting is an unrealistic one, and unlikely to pan out in practice," said Jan Dawson, chief analyst with Jackdaw Research, in a Skype interview.

"There's really nothing else obvious out there," Dawson said. "Chrome OS is really the one mainstream alternative that's gaining some traction, but it's largely been in the education market.

“It has some serious shortcomings for anybody that spends any time on their PC away from home, because of its dependence on constant connectivity for most of its functions to work. It won't run many of the applications that people want to run on such a device."

And while consumers may look more and more to Macs, keep in mind that no OEM will ever produce one.

A dearth of alternatives

"If Microsoft were teleported to another planet tomorrow, it would still take a long time for Windows to disappear," stated Ross Rubin, principal analyst with Reticle Research, in an e-mail discussion.

"There are Chromebooks at the low end and Macs at the high end, but [Windows] still has very high share in the meat of the PC market," Rubin continued. "Android might step in, but Google would have to loosen the reins on it in laptop form factors."

In a follow-up phone discussion, Rubin expanded on this point. Chromebook may yet make a rejuvenated play for the middle of the market from the low end, and MacBooks from the high end, he said.

But the users who constitute the majority of the market in between the two have built up high expectations for functionality and reliability that neither product may be able to meet.

"For many users, there is no ready alternative," said Rubin.

Google hasn't shown the capability yet, he noted, to offer the services Windows users expect; and Apple hasn't demonstrated any willingness to compete on cost, in what retailers call the "value" segment.

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