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Ballmer Questions Google Chrome OS

Gordon Kelly


Ballmer Questions Google Chrome OS

You wouldn't have expected anything less, surely...?

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has come out and given Google Chrome OS the jabs we all expected.

"I will be respectful," Ballmer explained at a Microsoft conference for technology partners in New Orleans that was live streamed over the Internet. "Who knows what this thing is? To me, the Chrome OS thing is highly interesting," he said, his tone garnering several laughs from the crowd. "It won't happen for a year and a half and they already announced an operating system {Android}. I don't know if they can't make up their mind or what the problem is over there, but the last time I checked, you don't need two client operating systems."

Two points here:

1. Microsoft has two client operating systems: Windows for PCs, laptops and netbooks and Windows Mobile for handsets. Furthermore, Google rarely deals with 'versions' instead incrementally updating its products. With Google there would be 'Windows' not Windows 95, 97, ME, 2000, XP, Vista, 7, etc etc so this seems a cheap shot. I could easily argue Microsoft has had double figures of client operating systems in the last ten years on the consumer side alone.

2. While specifics have yet to come out we do at least know "what this thing is". It's a Linux and browser based OS that aims to make itself as transparent as possible in order to embrace Cloud computing. Technology such as Google Gears will allow offline access to services such as Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Docs to emulate the primary benefits of the desktop experience. Hope that helps you out Steve?

In all seriousness, it is clear Microsoft knows its number one rival is Google and though Steve plays dumb here services such as {Windows Azure, Web Office and a potential Spotify rival show it has a strong grasp on the importance of Cloud computing. Perhaps more to the point, I'd suggest Microsoft's primary concern is Chrome OS is attempting something it understands is inevitable but didn't think would be relevant to the general public for a number of years.

Ballmer may well be right about this, but if he's wrong expect the quips to end very quickly...


via Reuters


July 16, 2009, 5:12 am

I don't think he cares. He might be a little interested but the billionaire CEO of Microsoft isn't going to worry about yet another Linux distro. Engadget has Bill Gates quotes on the matter and he seems fairly uncaring about it.

Who actually thinks it'll make any sort of difference? If netbooks taught us anything it's that people don't want things to be really stripped down. They want them powerful - which is why they've got bigger screens, HDDs, faster hardware, etc over time.

Also, it should be "piqued".


July 16, 2009, 8:10 am

only google knows where its going with the chrome OS... from an optimistic point of view, there isnt anything wrong with android in fact, the OS is evolving fast and has demonstrated its power...just see what htc has done with hero, the os does seem to be more "open" therefore easily tweaked, and new great apps (not those many but useless apps) are coming thick and fast....its just that perhaps, out of the blue google is seeing something we can't see yet, and quickly jump on it to revolutionize the tech world, not only the pc world, mobile devices world, but perhaps tech world in general.... thats my take...

Lee Marshall

July 16, 2009, 11:51 am


"Also, it should be "piqued"."

Damn, beat me to it!


July 16, 2009, 2:27 pm

Also, I'm pretty sure there was never a "Windows 97".


July 16, 2009, 2:56 pm

Listening to Stever Ballmer reminds me of listening to Robert Mugabe. Lots of bluster and hubris that comes from sitting in the untouchable hotseat - but the stuff he says never makes the slightest bit of sense.


July 16, 2009, 3:11 pm

I thought this was a family website!

No more images like that on the front page please, I nearly choked on my cornflakes :(


July 16, 2009, 3:39 pm

Ballmer embodies everything that's wrong with Microsoft :( When he comes out all hot under the collar like this, throwing stupid and ill-conceived statements around, it feels like watching that David Brent dance on The Office all over again :D


July 16, 2009, 4:09 pm

I think Microsoft are well aware that this is a battle over developer mindshare for rich internet applications: Microsoft Silverlight versus Google Native Client versus Adobe Flex. RIAs make the operating system irrelevant and back when Java tried this, Microsoft moved swiftly and adeptly to defend Windows. The internet has grown a lot since then and I think it is inevitable that a lot of what people use their computers for will be achievable with RIAs.

With Silverlight, Azure and Web Office Microsoft are making sure they'll be ready for this whilst still retaining full integration with the Windows desktop offerings. Undoubtedly this puts Microsoft in a stronger position than anyone else. If you have Windows on your desktop but Google Chrome OS on your netbook because it's free, you could still use the Microsoft RIA offerings there to partner with the desktop applications. Microsoft may well lose revenues on Windows but so long as they keep Office revenues propped up, it won't be anywhere near as bad as people adopting an alternative rich application environment like Native Client for all their needs.

Like Silverlight, Native Client will deliver cross platform RIAs but also to Linux and ARM CPUs (will there be something like Mac's Universal Binaries perhaps?). It will also ship with Google Chrome browser and thus Chrome OS. Within Chrome OS, I can't see why a Native Client app wouldn't be displayed like any other desktop app. I imagine the Native Client versions of Picasa, Google Earth, Open Office will look and behave just like the Windows versions. And in that respect, I imagine Chrome OS will look pretty much like any normal desktop operating system. An operating system with its own application environment that also works on every other operating system should be a concern for Mr. Ballmer, especially if that application environment becomes popular. And as a free operating system conservatively aimed at netbooks, Chrome OS could be the impetus for that to happen.

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