If Microsoft was less than gracious to critics who said of Office 2010 that it was pointless to be investing in desktop applications as PCs are on their way out, predicted sales of Windows 7 in the PC market will give Microsoft some ammunition to fire at the critics.

Windows 7 Dominance

According to recent research from Gartner (news, site), Windows 7 is set to become the leading operation system worldwide in the PC market, running on 42% of PCs in use by the end of 2011, with 94% of new PCs being shipped with Windows 7 in 2011.

According to the research contained in Forecast Analysis: PC OS Market, Worldwide, 2008-2015, 2011 Update, in figures, this means that by the end of 2011, nearly 635 million new PCs worldwide are expected to be shipped with Windows 7.

That still doesn’t say to what degree tablets, or other mobile devices, are going to replace PCs as the main hardware for the office. But it does show that Windows 7 is getting everywhere, and with it usually goes Office 2010 in some shape or form -- both pieces of news that should keep Microsoft happy.

The reason for the shipment of so many units is because, over the past couple of years, companies have been putting off new purchases as the economic climate stagnated. But now, as there appears to be a general reprise in the IT market, pushed largely by corporations that are now willing to spend, forecasts are looking up:

However, the economic uncertainties in Western Europe, political instability in selected Middle East and Africa (MEA) countries and the economic slowdown in Japan after the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, will likely lead to slightly late and slow deployment for Windows 7 across those regions,” said Annette Jump, research director at Gartner.

Interestingly, Gartner is basing its forecast on the assumption that Windows 7 will be the last OS that gets deployed across entire enterprises, as companies move to virtualization and cloud computing over the coming years.

Mac OS

But it’s not all about Microsoft, even if it will have the biggest slice of the pie. Gartner also sees a turn in the fortunes of Mac in this space with shipments of Apple iMacs and Mac OS share on new PCs increasing over the past year.

Mac OS was shipped on 4% of PCs worldwide in 2010 as opposed to 3.3% in 2008, and is forecast to be on 4.5% of PCs in 2011, and grow to 5.2% by 2015, with mature markets where users are buying into the whole Apple ecosystem making up the bulk of buyers.

The adoption of Mac PCs and Mac OS is a result of Apple's ability to grow well above the market average in the last 12 to 24 months, thanks to its ease of use from the user interface (UI) point of view and ease of integration with other Apple devices, such as the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and the existing Apple ecosystem of applications and programs," Jump added.

The Mac OS share still varies greatly by region, as Apple has much stronger presence in North America and Western Europe. The fastest growth is expected to happen in selected emerging countries, where Apple and Mac OS are growing from a small base.

Market 2012

Linux also gets a look in, although its market share will stay below 2% because of the high costs of application migration from Windows to Linux. In the consumer market it will be even less with around 1% of users taking up on it.

For 2012, Gartner says the market will reach the point of crossover between Windows-specific and OS-agnostic applications for enterprises, as 50% of the applications will be OS-agnostic. In the consumer space, Gartner believes that the proportion of OS-agnostic applications is already above that of the Windows-specific applications.