Microsoft Moves to the CloudIf there’s one idea that’s been basically gospel for the last twenty years of computing, it’s that Microsoft has dominated the operating system battle. While Apple’s OSX has been constantly gaining ground, it would be hard to blame Microsoft for feeling comfortable with Windows installed on more than 90% of desktops and notebooks.

At Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference, Microsoft’s COO Kevin Turner turned that thinking on its head, pushing the 90% number to the side and replacing it with a new stat – if you look past desktops and notebooks, Microsoft software is only installed on 14% of the world’s devices.

This shift positions Microsoft as a company with a ton of room to grow, rather than the Desktop Operating System juggernaut it’s been for years. The company’s clearly developed a focus on cloud-based technologies like Office 365 and Microsoft Azure over the last few years, but Turner’s comments really underscore how much Microsoft’s thinking on the matter has changed.

Desktops and notebooks aren’t dead – but they’re not very interesting.

If Microsoft’s willing to give up 76% of their market share to reposition themselves as the challenger rather than the champion, what does this mean for your (presumably much-smaller-than-Microsoft) company?

If you don’t have a plan for mobile and the cloud, you need one. Yesterday.

Microsoft has a ton of reasons to focus on the cloud, not the least of which is a constant need to find new places to create profits. With the desktop market covered, they’re turning to the cloud and mobile for growth. But there’s more to this move. It’s not just about growth, it’s about staying relevant. The idea of computing that Microsoft built Windows 3.1 to meet isn’t relevant. We’re using technology differently, and that shift has moved Microsoft out of the top spot and into the role of the plucky (but ridiculously well-funded) upstart.

If your company is setting out to launch a new website and planning to develop only for traditional browsers on a traditional desktop, you’re building to a paradigm that Microsoft is telling you doesn’t exist anymore. If you’re asking your sales team to work with technology that only works if they’re at their desk in the home office, you’re putting them at a competitive disadvantage against the sales teams who are able to access their data from any device, anywhere, and at any time.