Google is launching its own operating system, Google Chrome OS. The news came yesterday directly from the horse’s mouth. This development is worth noticing. It might be the beginning of the end of Microsoft’s thirty years of domination in the operating system market. Or is it so? Can Google beat Microsoft in its own game? Everyone is raising toast and welcoming the presumed victory of Google Chrome OS over Microsoft Windows, but I am skeptic about this. Very skeptic about this! I do not believe the new goliath (Google) will beat the old goliath (Microsoft) in the OS Game. Reason? This is what I am going to talk about.
Once upon a time, Microsoft was a beast that needed to be tamed. Macintosh failed, so did Linux, which anyway is not one operating system. It appeared then that Microsoft is not just the new black, but it’s the black that is going to color the whole world in its own color. And then came internet and entered into the arena two starry-eyed individuals from Stanford University with Google. The discussion again started revolving around the table, particularly when the Google with its pristine white homepage became a huge success. Year in, year out, Google kept on launching one after another successful products. Google seemed to have the Midas touch. Everything that Google touched, from blogger (acquired) to Gmail to YouTube (acquired) to Picasa to Google earth to what not, was becoming a huge success, and with each product-launch the discussion over the dominance heated up.
The fairy tale
The story so far seemed like a typical biblical tale: David slowly proceeding ahead with its crusade against the Goliath (Microsoft). But what everyone did not realize or pretended not to realize is this: Google registered almost all its success in the fields where there was no Microsoft or where Microsoft, the elephant sat on its laurels (obviously I am referring to Hotmail), and didn’t attempted to dance.
Google did wonderful job in search market. Why? Because despite Bill gate’s prophecy about internet in his book, The Roads Ahead, Microsoft was not very serious about the Internet. Microsoft was too delighted with its Personal computer domination to think about the change in the paradigm. Like many other biggies, Microsoft also became too big to notice small but important changes around. Hotmail is one example: despite being arguably the first company to use e-mail and paperless office (as claimed by Mr. Gates in his aforementioned book), and despite having the first mover’s advantage, Gmail dethroned Hotmail in the game that Hotmail itself started. Why? Because Microsoft became too complacent to innovate. The company remained stuck into its some MBs mailbox with paleontological features, while the world around was going towards GBs of e-mail storage, and various kinds of integrations.
Hotmail & Gmail
Microsoft failed in e-mail because it took us for granted. It misread the message, and further wanted to keep us locked inside its fortified golden walls with introduction of features like Digital Passport. I don’t think we had any problem in remaining locked in the system because consciously or unconsciously, we already have locked ourselves in Google system. You will not find even a single soul who uses computer but does not use any service offered by Google. Thanks to Facebook and Twitter, we happen to break the spell.
That was the lone battle won by Google and lost by Microsoft in the field where Microsoft was an existing or dominant player. In search engine market, Google didn’t beat Microsoft; rather it beat Yahoo!, AltaVista and Lycos, the search giants of yesteryears. MSN was the late entrant, so it has to be laggard. That’s a course book example of market domination.
Google Docs & MS Office
Microsoft Office is one product of which Microsoft will be very proud of. Unlike its Operating System, this product has always been successful in getting rave reviews from all quarters. MS office was a product, like Windows, that changed the game altogether. Microsoft with its one Product (Microsoft Office Suit), and its subsequent improvements derailed the Giants like WordPerfect and WordStar from the word processing track; it pushed Lotus 1-2-3 away from spreadsheet business; and became default in all types of presentations with its PowerPoint.
Google entered the arena in August 2005 with a web-based word processor and a mammoth dream of making Google Docs a standard in the word processing, spreadsheet as well as presentation market. Needless to say, it failed. And seeing the discrepancy between its claim, and the very limited success it enjoyed, and decreasing average time spent by users (see figures), I feel like saying, Google Docs failed miserably.
Microsoft Office, even after the change in the extension (Doc to DocX for word, XLS to XLSX for Excel and PPT to PPTX for PowerPoint) is still the de facto for the industry.
The War of the Future
July 9, 2009, Google through its blog officially announced the launch of its Operating System, Chrome, and with it a new wave of heated argument over the future of Operating system began. People started questioning, if this is the big moment when the rule of the game is going to change forever? Will Google do to Microsoft what Microsoft did to IBM and other giants? Will Chrome become the Windows for average consumers?
In one word, the answer is NO! No with a Capital N. Well, it’s not the Internet, it is personal computer. It is the den of the Giant (Microsoft). The rules of the game are different here, and Microsoft knows to play Ball.
This is not the only problem facing Chrome OS, the problem of support, and backward integration and interaction with the hardware is another major headache, and so is persuading software giants to build support for Chrome platform. None of these are going to be easy.
Or like Linux (with its 100s of variants), will Google Chrome OS depend on open-source applications only? How user-friendly will be its GUI (Graphical user interface)? What will happen, if we do left-click in Chrome? How will it handle my personal files? Will Google showcase its Adwords there as well, breaching our privacy? These are some issues that come to mind on hearing this news.
Operating System is too big a bite for Google to chew or swallow. Indeed, there will be some anti-Microsoft individuals who think Google is an evangelical company flocking around Chrome OS. As they did with Android (it’s an altogether different story that I personally don’t like Windows Mobile platform), and Chore web browser, despite Chrome being very inferior in comparison to Firefox, or as they (a small group of Google Aficionados) shown loyalty to this Giant (Google) by still being with blogger despite having most successful, most extensible, and easy to use WordPress around. This group still uses Orkut despite having access to feature-rich and fun to use Facebook.
Google will never dethrone Microsoft Windows. I am so confident because I still see this giant (Microsoft) dancing in the rain. I love the dance steps (sometimes failed like Windows Me and Windows Vista) this surrounded giant is trying. Microsoft will not fail till the time it dances.
It’s a confession time. I am a practical guy who uses the product that makes me most productive and efficient, be it open source, or from the stable of Microsoft, or an outcome of a Google-led innovation.
I use the following:
Operating System: Windows XP
Office Suite: Microsoft Office 2007
Web Browser: Firefox, Chrome and Flock
Search Engine: Google
Cell Phone: Nokia N97 (Symbian 6 5th Gen)
Amazon Kindle 2.0
Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Orkut (used in the past).
Photo Viewer: Windows XP Default or Pictomia
Multimedia on PC: Jet Audio, VLC, Windows Media player and Media Player Classic
Multimedia on my laptop:
Jet Audio, VLC, Windows Media player and Media Player Classic
Multimedia on Tablet PC: HP Quickplay, Jet Audio, and Media Player Classic
Yahoo Messenger, Gtalk, Skype, MSN, ICQ, (in the given order only)
Google Adwords, SEO Book Keyword Tool, SpyFu, Keyword Discovery, Keyword Cockpit Extreme
Google SMS Channel
RSS Aggregator for Blog:
RSS Owl, Google Reader
Animation: Adobe Flash, Adobe Aftereffect
Adobe Premier, Final Cut Pro, Vegas
Web Designing: Adobe Dreamweaver
The list goes on and on, but the point is I am not biased towards one company. As said, I use what makes me more productive and efficient.