Some Microsoft Thoughts on Chrome OS

Jul 11, 2009

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?

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