On October 26, 1999, both Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) were included in the Dow Jones Industrial Average as component stocks. In retrospect, however, the move may have marked the apex of the Wintel (Windows and Intel) partnership and personal computer revolution. On that October 26 date, Intel stock traded hands at a split-adjusted $27.28 per share. Roughly 15 years later, on June 25, 2014, Intel shares closed out the trading session at $30.88. Intel as dead money, of course, has paralleled the commoditization of the personal computer and its Windows software. Going forward, the tepid reception toward Windows 8 will fail to reverse this maddening trend.
Windows 8 and the Metro Concept
Microsoft launched its Windows 8 operating system on October 26, 2012, as the first major software upgrade out of Redmond, Washington, in three years. Upon launch, the Microsoft marketing apparatchik alongside numerous technology pundits quickly fell into formation to praise Windows 8 as “revolutionary.” Windows 8 was an amalgamation of the Metro concept, where traditional smartphone, tablet, and desktop features were fused together beneath one operating system. Roughly one year later, on October 17, 2013, Microsoft brought its Windows 8.1 update to market. Brad Chacos of PC World was to promptly describe Windows 8.1 as “the great compromise” between corporate executives who drove the Metro theme and personal computer loyalists who hoped to preserve a more traditional look. Windows 8.1 restored the Start button and smoothed transitions between tile commands.
In any event, Windows 8 and 8.1 have had a middling effect upon the personal computer market, at best. A recent report out of research firm Net Market Share identified Windows 7 as the most popular desktop operating system through May 2014. The 5-year-old operating system then claimed 50 percent of the desktop operating system market. Interestingly, Windows XP still operated 25.3 percent of desktop computers. On April 8, Microsoft discontinued Windows XP support, after 12 years on the market. For the sake of comparison, Windows 8 and 8.1 each claimed relatively minor 6.3 percent shares of the desktop market.