Recently, Microsoft released Windows 7 Service Pack 1, an update that delivers some better stability and important fixes to the latest in the long line of operating systems from the software giant. The update will likely be one of many service packs that will be made available to Windows 7. The launch of the service pack, however, causes some to think about Microsoft’s strategy in the operating-system space. The company is still heavily invested in desktop, offline software. And by the looks of things, especially with all the talk surrounding Windows 8, that won’t change anytime soon. Meanwhile, Google is preparing for the launch of Chrome OS, its cloud-based operating system that it believes, can deliver a new (and viable) experience for consumers who are looking for a little something different than Windows. It’s easy to see Google’s point. Chrome OS looks to be a promising addition to the operating-system market. And it could very well take a bite out of Windows market share eventually. Here's why Microsoft should fear Chrome OS.
- It’s A Good Idea
If nothing else, Google’s Chrome OS platform is a good idea. As more and more consumers start accessing the Web for their many needs, it only makes sense than operating system would bridge the gap between their offline efforts and their Web practices. Chrome OS might not be ground-breaking, but it’s undoubtedly an evolutionary upgrade that makes quite a bit of sense over desktop alternatives.
- Google Has Done Well Elsewhere
Microsoft might feel that its positioning in the enterprise and consumer markets is intact and it has nothing to fear. But it doesn’t have far to look to see that Google is quite capable of taking Microsoft down. The search giant did so online and it practically dismantled Microsoft’s operation in the mobile market. What’s to stop Google from doing the same in the OS space where it has a unique product to compete with Windows?
- Windows Isn’t Everyone’s Favorite
Not long ago, many believed that few things—if anything—could stop the Windows juggernaut. The operating system was simply too popular in the enterprise and consumer spaces for it not to dominate. But then Windows Vista came along. And when that happened, consumers, enterprise customers, and even vendors turned their backs on Microsoft. Windows 7 has helped revive Microsoft’s business. But the memory of Vista is still fresh.
- It’s Probably the Future
It’s hard to say what the next 10 to 15 years in the operating-system market will look like. But it’s quite possible that the space will be dominated by cloud-based platforms. As mentioned, the Web is integral to the experience of computing today. Realizing that, it would only make sense for Web-based operating systems to gain popularity over time. And the longer it takes Microsoft to realize what Google already has, the worse it will be for the software giant.
- It Doesn’t Have A Real Response
Microsoft has Azure, which could be central to its future plans in the cloud, but it’s hard to point to a single solution that can compete on the same exact level as Google Chrome OS. Microsoft is still focused on the desktop market. And it doesn’t look like that will change at any point in the near future. The longer Microsoft remains obstinate in the face of Chrome OS, the worse it will be over the long haul.
- It Doesn’t Have A Dominant Cash Lead
Whenever Microsoft has faced serious competitors in the past, the company has used its financial muscle to beat them. But it can’t do that this time with Google. Like Microsoft, Google is sitting on a cash cow. And it has the money it needs to invest in technologies that will help Chrome OS fight it out with Windows. That’s a problem for Microsoft. And it should scare the software company.
- Consumers Choose Google
Microsoft isn’t the most well-liked company in the consumer space. It’s still viewed by some as a firm that caters more to enterprise customers and fails to see the changing times the way companies like Apple or Google do. Whether or not that’s the case is up for debate. But until Microsoft can prove that it can think about consumers and deliver a Web-based operating system, the harder it will be for the company to take on Google and Chrome OS.
- The Waiting Game
One of the biggest mistakes Microsoft has made in response to Chrome OS is to basically ignore it. The company hasn’t come out with something that it can point to and say that the specific product will take Google on. Instead, it has largely ignored the cloud-OS space. But the longer it waits to respond, the worse it will be for Microsoft. Although Chrome OS hasn’t been sold to a single customer, time is of the essence. And Microsoft can’t forget that.
- It’s Not Mac OS X
There’s a general feeling in Redmond, it seems, that Chrome OS will turn out like Mac OS X—a fine operating system that few people actually use. But perhaps that’s a bit short-sighted. For one, Google has the ability to target more of the mainstream than Apple. And unlike Apple, Google is obsessed with taking Microsoft down. Admittedly, it would take a long time for Google to supplant Microsoft as the leader in the OS market. But tossing Chrome OS aside as a wannabe is a big mistake on Microsoft’s part.
- It Isn’t Linux Either
Microsoft would do well to not believe that Chrome OS is just another Linux, as well. Unlike Linux, Chrome OS looks to have the full support of many vendors that have traditionally only worked with Microsoft and Windows. That alone makes it a threat to Microsoft. And that alone should give Microsoft enough concern to think twice about ignoring the impact Chrome OS might have on its operation.