I'm sure that el Señor Bill Gates won't agree with Mark Anderson, but his words are spot on despite being a 20th Century soothsayer aka analyst. If Microsoft doesn't score something huge soon, they would lose the consumer market forever.
Anderson writes the Strategic News Service newsletter, widely followed by technology execs, venture capitalists, and horse bookies. His argument is that, right now, the smartphone world is where all the action is for consumers, and that will extend to everywhere else.
He is right. The concept of task-oriented, touch-based applications—simple enough for anyone to understand, unlike traditional desktop apps—is taking the consumer market, showing a new way to computing that is truly transparent for all kinds of users. Everyone gets it, and everyone is moving in that direction.
Anderson argues that Microsoft doesn't have consumer DNA, and that's where I disagree. As shown by the Xbox—and, albeit too late, by the Zune HD—Microsoft can get consumers. Certainly, not as well as they get the corporate world, but enough for them to counterattack the Apples and Googles of this world. But Anderson is right again in his conclusion:
The computer world is splitting apart, into two separate continents, consumer and enterprise.
The question is: Can Microsoft be a big player in both continents, or would they have to surrender in one of them? [NYT]