The OS wars are running pretty hot and heavy these days. Whether it’s Microsoft trying to fend off the European Commission as to the rights to package their products as they see fit or it’s Microsoft responding to the early buzz around Google’s entry into the desktop OS space, it’s a busy time. Since Microsoft is still by far the dominant OS provider in the world with Windows you would expect that they are going to be at the center of most of these musings. Well, it appears that the rumblings were enough to awaken the Poppa Bear of Microsoft, Bill Gates, as he puts his 2 cents into the talk. He doesn’t appear to be too worried. cnet brings us the word
“There’s many, many forms of Linux operating systems out there and packaged in different ways and booted in different ways,” Gates said in an interview with CNET News this week. “In some ways I am surprised people are acting like there’s something new. I mean, you’ve got Android running on Netbooks. It’s got a browser in it.”
Gates said it was hard to really say much about Chrome OS, since Google has said so little about how it will actually work.
“The more vague they are, the more interesting it is,” he said.
Gates is obviously a very busy man these days as he works with his Gates Foundation on some very lofty projects. While not as important as ridding the world of disease and educating the masses, he still has some views about the industry that made him the wealthiest man on the planet. He talked about how the browser has become less definable. This is in response to the claims that the browser should act more like an OS.
“It just shows the word browser has become a truly meaningless word,” Gates said. “What’s a browser? What’s not a browser? If you’re playing a movie, is that a browser or not a browser? If you’re doing annotations, is that a browser? If you’re editing text, is that a browser or not a browser? In large part, it’s more an abuse of terminology than a real change.”
Meanwhile back at Microsoft, the day to day guy Steve Ballmer told the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference that there is no need for a new OS (no surprise there) mainly because half of desktop computing is done outside the browser so there needs to be more concentration on applications etc. Of course, that line of reasoning reveals that the other half is happening in the browser and that percentage is likely to increase in the near future but let’s not quibble.
So it looks more and more like Microsoft is intent on not sounding defensive in the new OS conversations. One of the ways they are doing that is to come off as almost dismissive.
Ballmer and Gates also echoed the note Business Division President Stephen Elop sounded in an interview with CNET News last week–that Microsoft really doesn’t know what Chrome OS will look like.
“Who knows what this thing is?” Ballmer said.
My guess is that in the halls of the Microsoft campus there is more than a little hand wringing over even the thought of Google trying to mess with their lifeblood. Then again, maybe not.