Why Does The Vast Majority Of Businesses Use The Same Computers?

One aspect of IT that many people outside of programmers, software engineers and IT technicians do not consider is how the vast majority of businesses use very similar computers.

According to data from StatCounter, three-quarters of the entire desktop computing market uses a version of Microsoft Windows, a market share that has remained consistent for several decades, with only Apple’s MacOS, a very limited number of Chromebooks and a tiny contingent of Linux and FreeBSD users even registering in the statistics.

For many users, this aspect of computing is not even considered, and it means that whether you buy a Lenovo, a Dell, an HP or any other brand of desktop or laptop computer, your files and software are likely to be compatible and work with it.

This was not always the case, however, with the first half of the 1990s seeing a huge range of other computers with often vastly different designs and capabilities, with a video in the 1990s showing at least five fundamentally different architectures (the IBM PC-compatible, Apple Macintosh, Commodore Amiga, Acorn Archimedes and the Atari ST/Falcon).

All of them could be used for a range of business applications at the team, featuring spreadsheets, word processing, database software and network applications, but by the end of the decade only two were left, and one was significantly more widely used than the other.

There are a few reasons for this, the biggest of which was the complete implosion of nearly every computer manufacturer not named Microsoft.

Commodore’s Amiga prioritised games over productivity, but their attempt to create a multimedia device (the CDTV) and a games console (the CD32) both failed spectacularly, the latter driving the company to bankruptcy in 1994.

Acorn, makers of the now-ubiquitous ARM computer chipset, struggled to make their computers appeal outside of the educational market, pivoting into a joint venture with Apple named Xemplar and producing ARM chips for other companies.

Atari Computers discontinued its computer division in 1993 amidst poor sales, and Apple would struggle to survive by 1997 due to a variety of poor-selling products such as the Apple Newton and Bandai Pippin, and would ultimately only regain some of its marketing share thanks to a course correction in 1997.

All of this left the PC, powered by Intel (and later AMD) processors and running Microsoft Windows to completely take the business market, and later take advantage of the chaos in the computer market to become the dominant market leader to this day outside of mobile devices.

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