COMMENT: It’s been coming for some time, an almighty battle between Microsoft and Google, for the operating system market. Now the battle is on with the announcement by Google of a new Google Chrome OS for netbooks with notebooks and PC’s to follow shortly.
At stake for Microsoft is billions in lost revenue, as vendors who make netbooks, take up the offer of a free Google Chrome OS. Currently they pay around $56 for a Windows licence.
The timing, only a few months before Microsoft rolls out their new Windows 7 operating system is no accident. It is deliberate and designed to rattle Microsoft’s cage.
Chrome and their new Google applications, which are designed take on Microsoft Office, could put a big dent in Microsoft revenues if Chrome works and is accepted by business and consumers.
However Google has a big task ahead if they are to be succesful. Many companies and products have tried to take on Microsoft’s Windows and failed. Although rival systems such as Linux and Apple’s OS X are widely acclaimed, some analysts estimate that Windows and other Microsoft products are used on more than 90 per cent of computers. Microsoft is to release an updated version of its own operating system, Windows 7, in October.
Google has repeatedly stomped on Microsoft’s territory. Late last year they launched Google Chrome, a web browser, in competition with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. It has also recently released Android, an operating system for mobile phones, a direct challenger to Microsoft’s Windows Mobile, which is used on the majority of smartphones.
The new Google OS comes at a time when consumer habits are changing. People are now using netbooks and notebooks as their primary PC. They want quick boot times, access to online applications that let them write a quick note, calculate a spreadsheet or expenses, as well as a means to manage content and images. They also want easy to use email built into their browser as well as video conferencing and online talk.
Google has that with YouTube and Picasa as well G Mail and Talk and a whole lot more.
“People want to get to their email instantly, without wasting time waiting for their computers to boot and browsers to start up,” Google’s Sundar Pichai and Linus Upson wrote in a Google blog that announced to the world that Google were officially moving into the operating system marketplace. “They want their computers to always run as fast as when they first bought them. They want their data to be accessible to them wherever they are and not have to worry about losing their computer or forgetting to back up files. Even more importantly, they don’t want to spend hours configuring their computers to work with every new piece of hardware, or have to worry about constant software updates.”
These should be terrifying words for Microsoft, because right now there is a great deal of consumer sentiment baying for a change. They want simplicity, they don’t want cumbersome over engineered software anymore and in the same way that Bill Gates, walked on to that stage at Comdex in 1983, and delivered a brand new graphical interface called Windows, Google is now entering a new stage called the Internet and delivering Chrome OS, a brand new piece of software, that while being free, could reap them billions, from advertising and application downloads.
This is the birth of a new era, and if Google get it right, this day will not only go down as the day that Michael Jackson was remembered, but a day that Microsoft will remember for a long time as the day a fatal shot was fired at the King.