Paul Maritz

Paul Maritz is now the CEO of VMware, but he was previously the longtime chief of Microsoft’s platforms group — overseeing products including Windows and generally considered third in command at the company in the 1990s, behind Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer.

So it’s always interesting to hear what he says about Windows these days — even if he isn’t necessarily the most objective source on the subject, given the rivalry between his old and new companies.

In that spirit, Maritz was quoted saying that “PCs are not the only animal in the zoo anymore” during his speech at the annual VMworld conference yesterday in Las Vegas. But what exactly was his larger point? We went back and found the speech online and pulled these excerpts from his comments …

“What we’re seeing in the cloud era is not just hundreds of millions but billions of new users and devices now coming into play. Three years ago over 95 percent of the devices connected to the Internet were personal computers. Three years from now that number will probably be less than 20 percent. More than 80 percent of the devices connected to the Internet will not be Windows-based personal computers.

“With that kind of scale we’re going to have to see new techniques and new approaches introduced into the world of IT. We’re going to see very important new ways of presenting and developing applications. HTML5 promises to be very, very important, because it could be a genuinely capable cross-device way of writing applications. We’re already seeing the influence of new programming frameworks. … We’re seeing new ways of deploying applications as a service whether it be infrastructure as a service or platform as a service.

“And above all we’re seeing new data fabrics. The relational database cannot handle the scale at which and the rate at which these applications are going to need to be developed. And of this you’re already going to see the beginnings of the next canonical set of applications that will be about scale and being real-time. It’s no longer going to be sufficient to be able to collect data, put it in a giant warehouse, let it lie fallow there and then run a report over it to find out what happened last month or the month before that. People are going to have to be able to react to information coming in in real time. If you’re going to service the Facebook generation the way that they want to see information, you’re going to have to be able to give them customized information in the context they want to see it in real time. …

“That can’t be done by putting more lipstick around our existing applications. … Users are expecting to see that information on a much broader class of devices and in different ways. We are no longer going to be able to depend upon the fact that IT can control the device in a user’s hands. The device in the user’s hands is going to be fundamentally determined by what happens in the consumer world, and we’re going have to learn how to deliver capability to users independent of the particular device that they happen to have in their hands at that time of day, and do that in a way that’s not only secure on the one hand, but acceptable to the user in the other. They’re not going to put up with strange effects of basically having legacy paradigms sitting on these devices.”

Microsoft yesterday made headlines with a new online campaign starring a guy named Tad, lampooning VMware for being behind the times. It might not be as funny, or direct, but you can think of the above as Maritz’s response.

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  • Guest

    Pretty much an extrapolation of current mobile and tablet trends vs PC sales. Ray Ozzie said the same thing just before leaving MS. Of course Paul’s further assumption that this means Windows will be on just 20% of attached devices assumes MS doesn’t make a comeback in tablets or phones, or at least that their phones never end up running a flavor of Windows. He’s probably right.

    It’s too bad MS’s board didn’t recruit Maritz to replace Ballmer. He’s one of the few people with the skill and insight to have a shot at turning it around. Instead they decided to stick with Ballmer and lock the company into a dimmer future.

  • Guest

    Perhaps… but if Microsoft’s strategy comes to pass, a sizeable chunk of these “non-PC” Internet-connected devices will run some flavor of Windows in 2014.  If Windows runs on phones, tablets, laptops, and game consoles and STBs, who cares if only one of those devices is called a “PC”?

    • Guest

      How did MS’s strategy work out in mobile? How’s it working out in tablets? Their strategy coming to pass is about as likely as MS stock breaking back above $30.

  • Sarah_gilbert

    In any case Microsoft is well positioned. Even with 20% of devices, Microsoft can command 80% of the ecosystem revenue (Client + Software + CLoud Services (Office 365 + Azure) + Entertainment Services (xbox live) + Communications (Skype)). And this still does not include the Windows Server + SQL Server business. Its the 80-20 rule that matters. AAPL and Microsoft have both proven this in this industry. 20% of high-value services can command 80% of revenes and profit. Rest 80% of the ecosystem does not matter, its free anyways.

  • Ray Burt

    Maritz knows of what he speaks.

  • Iain

    Interesting, but is 20% credible? According to gartner  “By 2013, mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common Web access device worldwide”, I don’t see Windows having that low a share of installed based within 3 years.

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