No More Windows
Microsoft recently announced that Windows 10 will be the last Windows version. Don't get all excited you Microsoft haters - Windows isn't going away. But Microsoft is choosing to go with a cloud model for all future Windows development.
The best analogy for what will happen is to compare Gmail or Apple Mail to Outlook. If you use Gmail or Apple Mail, you know they are updated all the time. New code is developed and released when it's ready. If you're an Outlook user, you know that you get a new version of Outlook any time you buy a new version of Windows Office, update your PC, or pay for an upgrade. For some of you that may mean every year, but for most of you that means every two - four years.
Considering the current pace of technology innovation, two years is a long time to wait for updates, and four years is far too long. Apple knew that when they standardized their operating system with OS X, and now Microsoft seems to know it too. So the future of Windows will be a future of updates and improvements delivered whenever those updates are ready for market (or released, because sometimes ready and released are not the same thing).
This one announcement doesn't affect you if you're not a Windows user, but it is still important to you. Microsoft is making a massive shift in the way they develop software and make money. They are betting their bottom line on the premise that yesterday's technology may already be obsolete, and that technology from two years ago certainly is.
So. How old is the software you are using for your business? Do you have a Point of Sale system that was written in Access? Is the version you're using of Quickbooks pre-2007? How up-to-date is your internet browser? And how old is the technology your competitors are using? If your competitors are committed to staying current on software, there's a good chance they have operational and marketing capabilities you do not have.
Software companies have been moving their development to cloud platforms for roughly a decade now, and in the past three years that pace has accelerated. What this announcement by Microsoft means to you is that the writing is on the wall. Businesses need and want software innovations from their chosen software providers as fast as they can get them. If your business is committed to a software provider that is falling behind, the time to reevaluate that relationship and commit to software that's ready for the next phase of business development is now.