We need to note that enterprise IT ISVs, specifically, Microsoft, have contributed to the feature set glut for the PC. Just as a backgrounder, PC architecture is built on the Complex Instruction Set Computer (CISC) approach. We need to note that the SUN MicroSystems SPARC workstations that became a familiar hallmark of the trading floors on Wall Street were built upon a diametrically opposite approach — Reduce Instruction Set Computing (RISC) architecture. While the CISC approach was highly successful for Microsoft and Intel (WinTel) from the debut of the Windows operating system to, perhaps, this year, we think it is clearly now the case that RISC architecture has gained the upper hand, at least for the next near term.
The impact of the CISC architecture is that it provided Microsoft with an ability to dual purpose the PC. From Microsoft’s point of view, this capability held tremendous promise. On the one hand, the PC could serve as a commodity hardware device for enterprise organizations to handle their needs for daily computing — specifically, word processing, spread sheet, CRM, accounting and even some collaboration via internal mail systems (interestingly enough Lotus got the jump on Microsoft here and capture a substantial portion of the enterprise market with Notes). With the addition of Microsoft’s development tools, which start simply with a macro recorder, then build up to the Visual Studio of today, the same PC became a perfect vehicle for application development. Of course, with a very rich and plentiful set of add on applications built with Microsoft development tools, WinTel became very, very sticky. In other words, enterprise organizations that opted to use any number of these add on applications could not migrate off of the PC platform. In fact, they were locked into the platform.
Of course, the Internet web browser changed all of that. Now, in 2012, with these once sticky applications supplanted by cloud alternatives, the PC itself is no longer the sole device worth considering when enterprise IT organizations look to outfit their users with a computing platform. Therefore, it can be said that the decision to proceed with a CISC architecture as a method of consolidating, effectively, 2 or more computing requirements into one device is now very much a vulnerability. Apple, Google, et al have successfully exploited this vulnerability to capture a substantial portion of the market with RISC architecture devices — smart phones and tablets. We are skeptical as to whether or not Microsoft will be able to recapture position with its own tablet and smart phone.
© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved