Posted July 10, 2009 8:18 am by with 15 comments

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microsoftAs was widely reported this week Google is venturing into the world of operating systems, which is kind of like walking into Microsoft’s living room and saying “We’re here!”. Microsoft has been trying to for years to make a dent in the complete dominance of the search space that Google has. The introduction of Bing as served to move them in that direction but no one really expects them to unseat Google as the #1 search engine.

What is different about the Google announcement of looking to jump right in the middle of the pasture where Microsoft’s cash cow grazes is the thought that maybe, just maybe, Google has a shot as making a dent. They have built most of the competing products already that many have adopted in the Google Apps offering so now they are starting to move down to the foundation of desktop computing but with HUGE brand trust and awareness. At the same time Microsoft is often portrayed as the Evil Empire and many want to see them fall. Are the circumstances right for this to actually happen?

According to an interview conducted by Anthony Ha of Venture Beat with Microsoft’s VP of Developer and Platform Evangelism (huh?), Walid Abu-Hadba Microsoft isn’t worried.

Some of his remarks about Chrome consisted of entertaining bluster: “I love competition.” But he also had thoughts about why Google is trying to muscle into the operating system business. And no, he said, it’s not because Google wants to make computing simpler and faster (as Google executives claim), nor is it part of a grand plan to undo Microsoft’s dominance (as VentureBeat writer Dean Takahashi speculated).

“Most of what Google does is defensive,” Abu-Hadba said.

Now that’s an interesting take. Most people don’t usually see Google as being on the defensive with their efforts to do anything. It’s all Google can do to not appear too aggressive and look offensive in their steady march to world dominance through the browser.

The interview continued

Abu-Hadba said it’s not about operating systems at all; instead, Google is trying to distract competitors from attacking its cash cow, search. He argued that whenever Google enters a new market, like releasing mobile operating system Android, it’s trying to force competitors to focus on existing products, rather than challenging Google in search. And the company may actually feel threatened for the first time in years.

He then went on to predict the demise of Adobe in 10-15 years. So what’s his point? It appears as if the folks at Microsoft have a lot more to lose than Google does in this one. If you are the company that many people simply deal with because they often have little or no choice and would rather lose a limb than use your OS wouldn’t you consider a little more diplomacy? While even the start of the Google v Microsoft OS war is still a ways off the talk out of the gate seems to be setting the table for a serious fight.

Right now though the tough talk from Microsoft sounds pretty defensive since Google’s OS is still a ways off. Should Microsoft be worried or should they be concentrating on really attacking Google where it would hurt; their search business. Is talk like this designed to distract people from the fact that despite a pretty good start no one is holding any hope that Bing will dent Google’s search dominance? This could get interesting or it could get pretty silly. Which way do you see it heading?

  • I think there’s some interesting points in the “best defense is a good offense” argument for Google….

    However, I look at Bing’s ability to impact search vs. Chrome’s ability to impact OS and I am just left feeling scared for Microsoft and excited for Google.

    jlbraaten’s last blog post..New Website ROI Tips: Online Goal Setting

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  • Whilst I abhor the stranglehold that Microsoft/Intel has held on the computer industry for the last 15 or so years (REAL innovation has simply stagnated during that time), the last thing I want to see is Google (or any other company) “wiping out” Microsoft – not that that is likely to happen in my remaining lifetime, however long that may be.

    What IS needed is some MORE, REAL competition to Microsoft (AND Google) to kick them in the groin and wake them up to truly innovate. Surely the debacle over Vista and the massive public underwhelment (is there such a word? If not I claim copyright on it Microsoft! lol) must have told them that they need to revisit the drawing board on a number of counts.

    Google producing another potential competitor to Microsoft’s monopoly on the OS market is good news, but only in isolation. When viewed in the broader context of say “where’s the next big system innovation going to occur” with ONLY IBM left (now that Sun is no more) to beat their chest against Intel’s monopoly in THAT market, it hardly rates a mention.

    Where are the REAL challengers? Why have we had to wait so long and watch so many players (Sun, DEC, Apollo, SGI, et al) with truly performant architectures, systems & OS disappear simply because of a predilection for “CHEAP” (read Intel). Isn’t it about time we had a return to real “quality” and true “performance” ?

    To achieve it we need LOTS more competition to really beat up on the Wintel diet of dirge we’ve been fed for the last decade and a half. Contrast what has been achieved in the graphics arena where “real” performance today is TRULY astronomical c.f. 10-15 years ago. In contrast, although clock speeds have rocketed, I STILL have to wait interminably for things to happen on any PC and I STILL am unable to do easily on a PC things I could do very, very simply between a DECstation, a Sun & and SGI box 16 years ago i.e. REAL client-server computing! Yes! I can do it using Linux but NOT as easily as I used to be able to.

    So I say I hope Google beats the cr*p out of MS, but can we have a few more players in the contest please?

    Best regards

  • Joel Smith

    What’s to suggest that Google’s Chrome OS would even be in competition with Windows? Microsoft is in every part of the computing market because there’s so much room. They’re not forced to be good at something, rather, they’re “good enough” at just about everything. That’s mediocre. There’s plenty of room for great new OS products. We’re just used to the behemoth and a few other “specialty” OS’s. It’s time for the whole market to mature a little. We already have good options, like Mac OS X, and some of the more refined Linux variants, but there’s room for more focused products. Personally, I don’t see MS being much of a factor in future innovation in the OS market space now or in the future, but hey, who’s to say. They might manage a sea change. If not, they’re just another General Motors.

  • “maybe, just maybe, Google has a shot as making a dent.”

    “the fact that despite a pretty good start no one is holding any hope that Bing will dent Google’s search dominance”

    And these assertions would be based on any facts at all? Or are they pure conjecture?

    Remember, Bing is a shipping product which has literally thousands of individual positive reviews all over blogs and Twitter, with real tangible market share gains.

    Google Chrome OS is … well, nothing right now, except a vision. Heck, if Google is posting job openings for developers to work on Chrome OS, they don’t even have a complete team in place yet!

    Is the Google aura really that blinding?

    Jonathan Wong’s last blog post..Using Rich Interactive User Experiences to Market your Brand

  • @Jonathan – When you can simply sniff at the idea of competing in a space and have at least SOME level of credibility then your aura is bright. Blinding? Maybe.

    You would have to be blind in another sense to at least not give a cash rich, Phd laden group of go-getters like Google a shot to make a dent. Pure conjecture has no basis in reality. Right now the rest of the world has close to 10 years of Google making things happen. That’s a reality. No reason not to think they won’t make a dent here.

    As for Bing knocking Google off it’s perch? I give it no chance. You know what they say about opinions though 😉

    Of course, my crystal ball is on the fritz lately so I could be completely off base as well but I’ll take that chance.

  • Tony K

    Google has no chance competing in the market of operating systems with Microsoft. Microsoft has made itself the standard by keeping their prices just low enough that no one can enter the market and compete effectively. Their prices are so low that free operating systems can not even make a dent in their market share.

    The fact that Google is announcing this seems to be evidence that they may have some fear in what Microsoft is doing with Bing. It is like Google is crying “please don’t compete with us”. Google is already free so users have nothing to lose if they use Bing. Microsoft has nothing to loose by trying to make their search better. Google has a lot of money to loose by going into the operating system business.

    Understand Microsoft likes completion because they know what it takes to make an operating system be useable for almost everyone. They are not sharing that with anyone.

    I think that everyone that competes with Microsoft unknowingly joins the Microsoft R&D department.

    Think about it. If you’re in IT or a software developer at some corporation and you go to your boss and say I think we should use the new Google operating system or develop our next software for the new Google platform. I can only guess you would be laughed at.

    This has noting to do with some operating system being better (Apple’s OS, Linux) it has to do with what are your customers using, and their customers and so on. Remember the Palm Pilot. Now how does Microsoft Mobile compare in sales now. Look at the Xbox and the PS3.

    Microsoft knows what they are doing despite what everyone may think.

  • Bryan

    Microsoft is who they are today due to great marketing and making products that are just good enough and great as well. Look at the new Zune that has shocked many such as myself. Googles products outside of search are typically only adopted because they are currently free of charge with no obligations and do have good and great feature sets. Bing does have thousands of possitive reviews and Google wouldn’t be so defensive if they were not worried about bing.

    From a marketing standpoint bing naturally makes more sense for searching than google as a phrase. If bing can provide the same or better service it could definately cause Google some harm. Microsoft is a Marketing Giant.

    I think a Google Chrome OS can get some stanima in the Netbook market, but with relatively no fees attached to the OS, and will that really help Google?? In the US most netbooks are now shipping with Windows because people do not want the limited features and compatability issues the Free/Low Cost OS has to offer. Highly visited sites are still showing Firefox as Micrsoft’s biggest browser competitor, and the iPhone took the steam from the Andriod release, let alone the Android releasing on the smallest of the large Cell networks. I think Google needs to rethink their marketing to make things happen with an OS.

    Google needs to sit back and concentrate their efforts on their search technology, their other new arm, EMAIL and web based services. If marketed correctly this will help them maintain and improve their profitability. Many companies fail from venturing out of their specialty or niche, but once in a while others succeed, and in Apples case with the iPod succeed well, at least for the time being.

    As a country us Americans as a whole have over extended ourselves with credit. Many consultants and corporations, one being Microsoft, do not believe the market will grow as a whole as large as it was due to credit restrictions. People will not be able to purchase extras with credit like they did before. If the market is shrink or sustaining itself, is now really a time to compete with a company arguably making a product that is good enough at a low enough price to keep competitors out?

  • Not long ago I bought a Vista-loaded laptop. Do I like Vista? Not a chance, it provides nothing of any consequence to the ordinary user that we didn’t have in XP, and I have a life to get on with that doesn’t benefit from being forced to learn the ins and outs of Vista.

    But hey, I’m a freelance writer, and what did I discover as I tried to use WORD 2003 on my new machine – well blow me down, Vista won’t run previous versions of the Microsoft Office programs. So I have to go out and spend an additional £100 on a new version of Microsoft office. Which absolutely sucks!

    Do I have time for this? No.
    Do I want to be able to have a choice? You better believe it.
    Does the business world relish the thought of spending time and money on products that are nothing more than barely adequate? I shouldn’t think so.

    Is MIcrosoft potentially in big trouble? If Google come up with something that just equals the Microsoft OS I predict the rush to get free of the Microsoft stranglehold will be world-wide and unstoppable.

    In fact, if I had shares in the company I’d be selling them right now, before the market collapses.

  • @Andy

    “If Google come up with something that just equals the Microsoft OS”

    I think that’s the key point here. Google Chrome OS will likely not be something that anyone will consider “equal” to Windows, at least for the short term (next five years).

    Of course, if there was a freely distributed OS that does everything that Windows does and runs all my applications unchanged, I will definitely switch too!

    But if the free offering is less than what I’m used to using day in day out to be productive, then it will be a heck of a lot tougher (near impossible, actually) to convince me to switch OSes.

    Jonathan Wong’s last blog post..Using Rich Interactive User Experiences to Market your Brand

  • You’re all, so far, missing the point of a Google OS. It’s not to run MS Office. It’s to use the web. It’ll boot fast, reduce the never ending cycle of OS patches, and keep documents and apps in “the cloud”. It’s a paradigm shift. Hey, I’m standing in a store, composing this on a phone. That’s what Chrome OS is about. Dump the desk. Dump the apps. Use the browser, the network and forget updating your AV.

    Jeremy Chatfield’s last blog post..Making Money With Google AdWords

  • We understand the paradigm shift. Most people do. Their primary email is accessed via the web, with their choice of dozens of providers.

    The point is this new paradigm does not (yet) achieve the productivity levels that are achievable via the desktop. Commenting on a blog sure is possible today on a phone. But I bet it sure can be darn frustrating typing a long thoughtful comment on that tiny keyboard and tiny screen. And what if you just thought of an article that you read last week that supports your case? Try to search for the article on the web and find the URL and insert it into the comment – possible, but sure as heck frustrating using the phone. I know, because I’m an iPhone user myself.

    Keeping everything in the cloud is not the answer for all computing use cases today. In fact, I dare say for the majority of computing use cases today, a proper desktop/laptop with desktop software achieves much higher productivity levels than equivalent apps in the cloud. Ever try to do a complex financial report with pivot tables with Google Apps? Or trying to listen to music that is streamed over the Internet when you have iffy connectivity? Or even trying to do 10% of what you can do in Photoshop using is an exercise in frustration.

    Therefore, Google Chrome OS – as it is currently announced and as of next year 2010, I bet will only appeal to a minuscule fraction of the computing population. Basically, those that only want a Netbook form factor (a waning market, by the way) and have no other needs besides social media, email, and web-based productivity apps.

    Oh, and if anyone thinks that a web-oriented OS won’t have problems with malware or viruses, I suppose they don’t have experience with IT security. But web applications run in a sandbox, a la Chrome? Well, let’s see how well the sandbox models work when your app needs to start accessing your web cam, local hard disks, USB drives and stuff.

    Jonathan Wong’s last blog post..Using Rich Interactive User Experiences to Market your Brand

  • Am i one of only a few that is really starting to become irritated with google at it’s continual half baked ideas?

    First we have street view.. people express concerns and googles response borders on pure arrogance, then the busted a*** chrome operating system and now it wants an OS.

    For crying out loud.. Mr Schmidt will you kindly concentrate on doing one job well instead of a lot poorly!

    Google search is definately good.. but its far from perfect!

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  • @Jonathan
    I agree with everything you have to say. You obviously work with real corporations managing real IT systems.

    All the Google Chrome OS lovers seem to live in an “ideal” dream world with no idea of how big corporations actually handle IT.

    I can’t think of a single FTSE 500 or Fortune 500 company whose IT Manager would go “Hey… Google has a new product out, so let’s put our billions at risk by trying it out, instead of sticking with the product that we know works, for the past 15 years!”.

    If any of these IT Managers even suggested trying Google Chrome OS, anytime in the next 5 years, they’d probably be fired before they can spell OS.

  • i sincerely believe that chrome Os is not going to be as great as all of you might think , they are just starting in this field and they need some years of experience to create something interesting
    .-= taniana´s last blog ..Blogitud : Microsoft Office 2010 =-.