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Microsoft Will 'Die and Disappear' in Next Few Years: Futurist

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Ex-British Telecom CTO Peter Cochrane says divergence, not convergence, is the future of IT.

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MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL With the Windows Surface RT selling out of its available stock -- and winning an endorsement from Oprah Winfrey, no less -- it may seem like Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is riding on a high.

Despite the short-term good news, the long-term fate fate of the company is not so rosy, at least according to futurist Peter Cochrane, ex-chief technology officer of British Telecom, which trades as BT Group (NYSE:BT). Microsoft will "die and disappear" within the next few years, Cochrane told Computing.

"There is no convergence in IT -- what we see is divergence...apps are appearing individually to achieve separate functions," he said. As such, the "one OS" (operating system) business model, like Microsoft's, cannot survive. By all accounts, Microsoft "owns" the operating system business, with about 85% market share. (The remaining market share is divided between Mac and Linux.)

Far from being an alarmist, Cochrane's bona fides are sterling; after an illustrious career at BT, he was appointed as the UK's first "Professor for the Public Understanding of Science & Technology" in 1998. Cochrane is currently CEO and Chairman of Cochrane Associates and he is an active investor in high-tech start-ups.

The "one OS" model clearly seems to be where Microsoft is putting most of its chips, given the recent debut of Windows 8. In Windows 8, Microsoft has a single OS that looks like it will be able to span multiple hardwares (PC, tablet, phone, TV) and can be accessed in a variety of ways including touch, type, clicks, and gestures (Kinect).

Windows 8 is not only used in the Surface RT tablet -- the Nokia (NYSE:NOK) smartphone using the application was just launched last week. However, Nokia currently has a very small share of the smartphone market, according to data from the International Data Corporation (IDC). Nokia's Symbian operating system holds a 2.3% share in the market, down from 14.6% a year ago, said IDC regarding third-quarter data in a release dated November 1. Windows has a 2% share, up from 1.2% over the same period.
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