By the end of next year, Apple OS X-based Mac laptops will be as well accepted by IT pros as their Microsoft Windows-based counterparts, according to Gartner. Driven by Apple's efforts to make its OS X operating system more compatible with the iPhone's, iPad's and iPod Touch's iOS, more users will bring OS X devices to work where IT will have to deal with them, says David Mitchell Smith, a vice president and Gartner fellow.
Smith cites the MacBook Air in particular as a device that will arrive in corporate settings more and more as it grows in popularity.
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[COUNTERPOINT: Not so fast, Gartner: Apple's unlikely to challenge Microsoft in the enterprise
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He points to Launchpad, which displays the application folder in OS X Mountain Lion machines like the home pages of iOS devices, as an indicator that Apple is trying to make the two platforms more alike. He also notes that Apple is standardizing application names across iOS and OS X as evidenced by renaming iCal and Address Book applications to Calendar and Contacts, respectively.
IT departments have already been forced to accept iPhones, and in fact they are better accepted than Windows Phone 7 phones are among corporate IT staff, he says. With security improvements with Windows Phone 8, though, IT departments are starting to prefer Microsoft smartphones, Smith says. However, user adoption remains tiny.
With Windows 8, Microsoft has the potential to cut into iPhone and iPad markets, and the Microsoft alternatives hold interest among Windows shops, he says. However, Microsoft's Windows 8, Surface RT tablet, and Surface Pro tablet have all debuted to scathing reviewss.
Still, none of this means Apple will supplant Microsoft in business networks, Smith says. Microsoft caters to corporate customers and has well-established relationships with them. The company will continue to develop products that will appeal to that base, he says.
Although the general attitude of IT pros toward Apple will improve, "they'll never get as excited as they are about Microsoft," Smith says.
One byproduct of this injection of multiple operating systems into the corporate environment is a predicted shift toward hybrid mobile applications that support more than just one platform, Gartner says. By 2017, more than half of all mobile applications used by businesses will be hybrid, it predicts. That means businesses should shift their application strategies toward developing a single application code base that can be shared by Web, hybrid and native applications, says Van Baker, a Gartner research vice president. That could take the form of HTML5 application code wrapped in containers that adapt the applications to different platforms, he says.
Tim Greene covers Microsoft for Network World and writes the Mostly Microsoft blog. Reach him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/Tim_Greene.)
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