With the recent release of the initial Longhorn bits, we now need to start thinking about the competitive landscape for 2005, which is when the next version of Windows is likely to ship.
To understand the future, we need to first look at the past, at the launch of Windows 95 and how IBM OS/2 and Apple Computer failed to compete against Microsoft. I was the lead Dataquest analyst on the Windows 95 launch, and Longhorn is beginning to look like a similar series of events with many of the same players in the game.
In 1994, when I joined Dataquest, the only real competitors to Microsoft on the desktop were IBM (with OS/2 Warp) and Apple. OS/2 was having significant difficulty, largely due to IBM's inability to sell it outside of parts of Europe and in the banking industry.