The Gladiators: Google & Microsoft

Background: The recently announced Google Chrome Operating System! Don’t pull out your wallets yet – there’s time before they launch it… and it might also be available as FOSS! 😉

In HK Sir’s recent blog, he puts forth his thoughts about why he thinks the recently announced Google Chrome OS might not give Microsoft a run for their money.

I do agree with many of the points he raises there, however I still think Google Chrome OS (GCOS) will do well & Microsoft better start saving! 🙂 The GCOS may not do as well as Google would like it to do in the OEM segment (as he’s highlighting in his blog too) – but it would do well, otherwise.

Knowing Microsoft’s “innovative” ways, they might’ve already started working on a new Windows 7 Lite (a stripped down Windows 7 for the web) to compete with the GCOS. 😉

My flow of thought about why Microsoft *has* serious competition:

  • Windows Vista has been a major flop & most people/companies are not likely to consider buying Windows 7. GCOS would be a good option for them.
    (Tangent, but relative: Many companies have not switched/upgraded their Windows 2003 to Windows 2008 yet – and they probably even won’t).
  • Microsoft is known to *force* its users to upgrade the OS – by stopping their support to legacy OSes. But in these tough times, people/companies would rather stick to Windows XP/Vista/2003 (with the available support – or force Microsoft to extend the XP/2003 support even further), than spend money on a new Windows OS. This Microsoft policy is also likely to cause the switch to the GCOS.
    (Tangent: I never understood why Microsoft spurns its existing babies when they deliver newborns! I do know people who still happily use “Microsoft-unsupported” Windows 98 SE and Windows 2000 Pro.)
  • So, the obvious growth for Microsoft’s new OS is likely in the OEM segment only. Linux distros have already eaten up (& are still munching) some space in that segment. However, due to lack of marketing the Linux-OEM bundle hasn’t seen major growth to dent Microsoft’s share there.
  • In comparison – Google will most likely spend a lot of money in marketing its new OS & will have much more recognition in the market as compared to the other Linux distros. This is bound to affect Microsoft’s share in the segment.
  • One other serious pain with Microsoft is its OSes demanding high-end hardware. The GCOS, with its new GUI on top, is expected to not demand for high-end hardware (unlike Windows 7), so users of old hardware are expected to dump their old & slow Microsoft OS, rather than spend money to upgrade their computers to run the new Microsoft OS.
  • The GCOS would have the Chrome browser built-in, and it would be expected to carry/support OpenOffice & multimedia apps; which are more then enough for a majority of tasks that a typical user does. (Yeah! A majority of users don’t know how to download and/or install software. They prefer to stay put with what they have.) For power users, there are enough FOSS software available today, to make an easy switch to the GCOS and replace almost every Microsoft offering. (.NET developers, you must check out MonoDevelop!)
  • Existing computer users (even non-techies!) would definitely try the GCOS once (assumption: Google’s strong marketing!), to atleast check its claims – and I think, there will be substantial number of users switching from Windows to the GCOS after that.
  • For new computer buyers – a great deal with a free/cheap & fast OS with a small footprint might sell well. Microsoft Windows isn’t getting low on its bad cholestrol (bloatware!) and neither is it getting any easier to use, like the bothersome security prompts being thrown at the user at almost every other click of the mouse button (Microsoft’s own admission). A lay user gets *very* worried using Vista – trust me here, I’ve helped quite a few. 😐  I don’t expect Windows 7 to radically change that.

Both Microsoft & Google have a tough battle for their space in the OS market – with Microsoft desperate to save its share, and Google out to grab even that, with its GCOS.

I’d say, look forward to them fight as gladiators, while you are the Emperor! 🙂