Wow, I never thought I’d see the day when a company made a frontal assault on Microsoft’s core business. Google goes where the DOJ failed to penetrate (more accurately, Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson managed to steal defeat from the jaws of victory by making some remarks between the decision and the sentencing phase of the Microsoft antitrust case that got him removed from the case, and installed a particularly clueless judge, Colleen Kollar-Kotelly. as a replacement, who meted out vastly weaker sanctions that Jackson would have administered).
While competition is presumably a good thing, I’m not sure having one monopolist replace another is a great improvement. Google is already playing the FUD card (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) by putting this info out well in advance of launch (a product for low-end portable PCs, due out second half 2010. I wonder if this is part of a strategy to bridge computers and communications devices. Apple has a full OS of sorts in its iPhone, but this announcement says the ultimate aim is the PC market). Admittedly, part of FD was also announcing vaporware, while Google has much higher odds of delivering a real product on its timetable.
Having been a Google customer via Blogger, their customer service is non-existent. As a matter of policy, you cannot get a live person, hence you cannot get a problem resolved. When this blog was shut down (it was incorrectly tagged as a spam blog) I was lucky enough to know the brother of a C-level executive. Any other level of contact, and I would not have gotten any resolution. Trust me, I am better at getting past gatekeepers than most people, and the Google switchboard might as well be Fort Knox.
Google simply does not get the first rule of customer service: the perception of customer service is based not on the error rate, but the quality of problem resolution. People want a company that will admit to its errors, fix them quickly, and be pleasant about it. That does not seem to be how Google defines its product (not that Microsoft understand that either, mind you).
I’d be curious as to what the tech experts think (as a Mac person I can watch the blood sport with indifference), but Google presumably recognizes that Microsoft has a hugely bloated OS that it no longer even fully comprehends. That means the OS is inherently insecure. Linux has made inroads, but more in the corporate/institutional market, where it is easier to organize user support (although the irony is that one of the things that helps keep Microsoft going is that it is a tech support full employment act. Linux and Macs require vastly less support than Windows).
From the Wall Street Journal:
Google Inc. is preparing to launch an operating system for personal computers, a direct assault on the turf of software giant Microsoft Corp….. It said the software, which will initially target low-end portable PCs called netbooks, would be based on its Chrome Web browser and available to consumers in the second-half of 2010.
The post–by Google’s Sundar Pichai, vice president of product management, and Linus Upson, its engineering director — said the operating system would be “lightweight” and optimized for running Web-based applications. Google’s goal, they said, is to address shortcomings of PCs — including security problems and lengthy delays while computers boot up, the Google executives wrote.
“We hear a lot from our users and their message is clear — computers need to get better,” they wrote.
Eventually, Google hopes to scale the software to full-scale PC’s as well, they wrote.
The effort marks the latest attack by Google on Microsoft, which dominates the market for operating system software that powers computer applications. The Mountain View, Calif., company, which makes 97% of its revenue from online advertising, has been trying to compete with Microsoft and other software makers by offering more software that runs in a Web browser and isn’t downloaded directly to computers. Now it appears to be broadening its approach, in a move that could give it greater distribution of its own online software services, including word-processing and email software.
But whether it can chip away at Microsoft’s dominance in the market remains unclear. In the months since its launch, Chrome has done little to challenge Microsoft’s lead in the browser software. And some hardware companies have been slow to adopt Google software — like its Android operating system, which is targeted at running applications on mobile phones — arguing it isn’t robust enough to handle many tasks.
The Google blog post stresses that the Chrome operating system is a separate effort from Android — though, like Android, it will be “open source,” meaning other developers can have access to and modify the code.
The software is designed to work on PCs running x86 chips — the design used by Intel Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. used in most conventional PCs — as well as chips based on designs from ARM Holdings PLC that are the standard in cellphones and are expected to be used in netbooks later this year, the executives said.
Though the software will be based on the core of Linux, its “kernel” in programming parlance, the Chrome OS, as it is called, will add a new layer of windowing software to manage what a user sees on a display screen. Instead of requiring programmers to write programs specifically for the operating system — an uphill battle, at a time developers have many choices about where to focus their efforts — the Google engineers said that the Chrome operating system will simply run programs written for the Web.
“And of course, these apps will run not only on Google Chrome OS, but on any standards-based browser on Windows, Mac and Linux thereby giving developers the largest user base of any platform,” the Google executives wrote.
Google’s incursion into operating systems could galvanize its critics, including privacy groups and competitors, who argued that the online search company already collects vast amounts of information about consumers’ Internet use.