Preston Gralla

Apple storms Microsoft's castle: Macs will be as accepted in enterprises as Windows PCs by 2014, says Gartner

February 04, 2013 9:43 AM EST

Microsoft's greatest trump card over Apple is its domination of the enterprise. But by 2014 that dominance will end, with Macs as accepted in enterprises as Windows machines. Could this be the end of an era in computing?

In its report "Predicts 2013: Mobility Becomes a Broad-Based Ingredient for Change," Gartner says that by 2014, Macs will be as accepted in enterprises as Microsoft machines are today. That's due to the inroads Apple has made via iPads and iPhones. Because enterprise IT commonly supports those mobile devices, they will increasingly support Macs as well. As a result, by 2014, Macs will be as accepted in enteprises as Windows machines, the report claims. David Mitchell Smith, vice president and Gartner Fellow has this to say:

"Although Apple's mobile iPhone and iPads are already as accepted by enterprise IT as is Microsoft, Apple's Mac systems for laptops/notebooks and desktops remain not commonly accepted by IT. Going forward, Apple will continue to benefit from consumerization and will continue to evolve Macs to take on more iOS characteristics, which will contribute to acceptance of Macs in the enterprise. As such, enterprise acceptance of Apple will continue to be driven by consumer demand."

Also bad news for Microsoft, notes Gartner, is that its mobile offerings are not as much in demand in enterprises as are iOS devices, because consumers simply don't want them. A Garter press release notes:

Microsoft's mobile offerings — Windows Phone and Windows 8 — are new, but will continue to achieve some acceptance from enterprises, largely due to the relationship that Microsoft has built with them and the management capabilities they provide. However, unlike Apple, Microsoft's offerings have not benefited from consumerization, which is driven first by consumer demand, and then by the demand of those consumers to bring that technology into the workplace.

If the Gartner prediction proves to be true, this could spell the end of a long era in computing. Windows machines have long dominated the enterprise, with Macs officially accepted in only a limited number of industries and departments. If Macs become just as accepted as PCs, then Apple devices could eventually become more used in enterprises than are Microsoft-driven devices, because iPads and iPhones beat out Windows-based tablets and Windows Phone devices.

Even when that happens, the enterprise will remain a Microsoft enterprise stronghold, due to the prevalence of Office, servers, and a great deal of other enterprise-focused technologies. Still, it would represent a significant shift in business-based computing towards Apple, something that would have been inconceivable only a few years ago.