Chrome OS is not a threat to Windows

It’s been a busy morning as the blogosphere and Twitter world respond to Google’s “bombshell” announcement that they’re launching Chrome OS sometime in the 2nd half of 2010. (that’s a long way from now). Already, folks who have never seen it, used it or spent five minutes with it are claiming it’s huge threat to Windows. (oddly, if that’s the case, wouldn’t it also be a threat to Apple and Mac OS, an argument I’ve not seen this morning.).

While it’s early to be dismissive, this is by far a slam dunk success. It feels more like another way Google is attempting to provoke Microsoft. Michael Mace says it well.

“We want to bleed Microsoft to death, and we’ve decided that the best way to do that is give away equivalents to their products. By creating a free OS for netbooks (the only part of the PC market that’s really growing) we hope to force Microsoft into a Clayton Christensen-style dilemma. It can either cut the price of Windows in order to compete with us, or it can gradually surrender OS share.”

Or to put it in simpler terms. Let’s once again poke Microsoft in the head with a really sharp stick.

Launching a new PC OS is not easy even if your target is a cloud. Targeting netbooks in 2010 isn’t the answer either. As I’ve pointed out, netbook are laptops with a pivotal axis of price. We’re seeing netbooks with 12″ screens, full sized keyboards and 300gb of storage. Does anyone think that netbooks aren’t going to evolve further? Consumers have overwhelmingly rejected Linux flavored netbooks for Windows capable machines that they could actually accomplish things on, such as run PC applications. What this clearly does do in my opinion is kill the idea of Android on netbooks (which never really had much of a reason to exist there). This will allow vendors to focus on where it needs to keep focus, as an alternative smartphone platform.

Right now, this all about Google putting pressure on Microsoft at a time when MSFT would rather keep the market focus on Windows 7, not some upstart Linux platform. By creating of lot of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt this morning (after all, every PC runs web-apps really well and no one is looking for devices that web based only for the most pat). they hope to take the attention and luster off of Windows 7 and that’s exactly what they’re doing. In the meantime. Show me the OS. Show me the apps. Show me the devices. In the meantime, there’s a lot of interesting stuff between now and the 2h of 2010 to write about it.

12 responses to “Chrome OS is not a threat to Windows

  1. This is an amusing use of Microsoft’s tactics against Microsoft.
    How many times has Microsoft announced a future product to weaken a competitor’s current product?
    If Google gets a handful of potential Windows 7 buyers to wait for Chrome OS, then this tactic worked beautifully.

  2. I couldn’t agree with you more that the timing of this announcement has more to do with putting pressure on Microsoft than some sort of attempt to change consumer purchase behavior. In this respect, Google has taken a page out of the Microsoft marketing playbook by making a very early yet attention-grabbing announcement at a time where their largest competitor is trying to focus attention elsewhere.

  3. I’m not sure I agree. The market’s always been driven as much by product category incursion (often as a construct of marketing) as category participants. When you stated netbooks continue to bulk up you made this exact point. If Google can establish OS market share on netbooks before they ‘really’ achieve mainstream status (this is subject to how relative market share plays out of course) and netbooks continue to incur overall consumer computer purchase market share, Windows has a lot to lose and will. This might not fit well with OSes well-suited to in house corporate controls and services, but it fits just find with the guy that wants to take his computer on vacation and the coffee shop to read news and mail while interacting with both.

    As for Apple, not only do they not own a substantial market share, they draw a huge percentage of their business from people who have picked up on one or more esoteric design signatures found in their hardware or software, or both. It’s been proven their capture and hold rates are much higher than anyones due in large part to these signatures, be it something as simple as looks to something more specific like how Apple Mail handles messages or iPhoto empowers armchair photographers. Apple detractors often miss this and even tend to lash out at those who’ve bought in, when all they’ve done is communicate it’s something they just don’t get, which is fine up to the criticism. There are several other products drawing similar hold characteristics, it’s just that Apple appears to have more of these characteristics, much to their advantage going forward.

    Summary: it seems Google has a real chance of hitting Microsoft between the eyes. They have a sizable following of ABMers (Anything But Microsofters) that might not even care about product esoterics, the price is quite right, they are an established brand that people trust excessively and see as a savior (just like Microsoft was seen in the IBM era), their products are infinitely easy to find online, use (and install if needed), they consistently release after exercising due diligence in feature testing, and they’re entering during another highly disruptive moment in the hardware space that’s punctuated by a transitioning economy. So why again do I need to buy Windows?

  4. I agree with most parts…
    I allso agree that to launch an PC OS against windwos will be very hard.
    I agree that every time google snizes on a whimp the press call it “google slap MS in the face” and over reacting.

    the google OS will no threat MAC os since MACs are a closed box where Google can dream on entering

    but it will be a mistake from microsoft to not take it seriouslly, since google search engine they been trying to poke MS in everyfield and fails.. I think MS needs to pay attention and really succeed with Win7.

  5. Not much to say other than I agree wholeheartedly. Much like the release of the Chrome browser I think the hype is outpacing the substance here.

    I’m sure Google will bring some great new ideas to the table. But at the end of 2010 when we’re looking at a finished product and comparing it to the developments of the next 16 months we’ll see that it’s just another alternative and not the epoch changing browser people thought when first announced.

  6. Before I start, I would just like to stat that I am not a Google, Apple, or Microsoft Fanboy. I am simply and objective technologist looking at the facts.

    I would agree to some extent that, yes, it is too early to tell if this is a legitimate threat to the Windows empire. However, Google and Microsoft both have track records. Google, time and time again, have proven themselves to be head and shoulders above the competition, setting standards, raising the bar, and making tools that make our lives easier. Microsoft, on the other hand, has had a history of pissing people off, ignoring usability, and underestimating the competition.

    It has been time after time after time that Microsoft has had something in place and Google comes along with their new toy and blows it out of the water. Google search Vs. MSN search, Gmail Vs. Hotmail, Google Earch Vs. Microsoft Earth. Google’s Chrome browser is faster, sleeker, and a big thing, abides by standards. Microsoft’s IE browser is bloated, crash-heavy, and gets a whopping 12 on the Acid3 test. I could go on a lot more.

    Now this is not to say that Microsoft does not have some innovative and amazing ideas. Windows 7 is a great OS. I, like many others, had to pick my jaw up off the floor after seeing the massive pile of s**t that is Windows Vista. It was much like Windows ME in that Microsoft wishes they could cover it up. However, I have used Windows 7 since late January and I must say that it is a DRASTIC improvement and really takes in a lot of user feedback.

    Other great stuff from Microsoft include: Zune (software, not the player), the Windows Live package, Office 2010, and Visual Studio. So they do have some facets of the market that they excel in.

    If nothing else, it will be an amazing competition between the two. And in response to your comment about Apple not being in any comparisons, well, Apple is really doing their own thing. They have their own hardware and software and people will continue to use them whether or not a better operating system comes along simply because of Steve Jobs. So it’s not really even worth bringing them into the equation.

    So yes, you’re right, it’s too early to judge which will end up as the king of the hill so to speak. But I wouldn’t go so far to say that Google is in anyway provoking Microsoft to make a response. If nothing else, they are making competition for them that is really long over due. The only reason that Microsoft has survived this long with not having to improve their OS is lack of that competition. So having this competition is great for us as consumers because now we get to sit back and watch them battle it out through features, usability, reliability, and speed. Should be one hell of a show.

  7. Michael,

    Interesting take. I’d like to add a few points if I may:

    Fundamental shortcomings in Google’s approach are mindshare and conditioning. Fact is, the VAST majority of computer users care not at all about their operating system because that’s the only one they’ve ever known (which is likely Windows). Fact is, they just want to get their work done in Word and move on. Re-learning how to use a computer is rarely on anyone’s business agenda (operative word: rarely).

    Enterprise ventures will not invest in it as infrastructure and support is non-existent.

    That leaves, what, the techies? Folks like us that will likely check it out because it’s a concept that essentially ditches the “desktop” paradigm? (Well, hopefully, anyway.)

    From my vantage point, which I will freely admit is myopic at best – Microsoft is its own worst enemy, bloated with middle management and a stock price that hasn’t moved since E.T. tried to phone home. It has all the tell-tale signs of a middle-aged company. And the market?

    Well, that’s Microsoft’s to lose.

  8. One thing that Google Chrome OS announcement and subsequent reactions made me realize is that people still deeply care about operating systems.

    That realization kind of negates Google’s story about browser making operating systems irrelevant.

  9. lol, with MSFT sitting on around 90% of the market, I don’t think Apple is even a concern.
    Plus, it’s mostly for status, editing or fanboyism.

    • @Pedro, I disagree… Apple is not fanboyism… Apple has the best UI on top of a very powerful UNIX platform. Best of both sides.

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