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Google Businesses The Internet Microsoft

Chrome OS Designed To Start Microsoft Death Spiral 817

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the a-little-bit-optimistic dept.
Al writes "Technology Review has a feature article that explores the business strategy underlying Google's decision to develop its Linux-based operating system, Chrome OS. Writer G. Pascal Zachary argues that Eric Schmidt has identified a sea-change in the software business, as signaled by Microsoft's recent problems and by the advancement of cloud computing. Zachary notes that Larry Page and Sergey Brin have pushed to develop a slick, open-source alternative to Windows for around six years (with the rationale that improving access to the Web would ultimately benefit Google), but that Schmidt has always refused. While developing Chrome OS is a significant gamble for Google, Zachary believe it will exploit Microsoft's historical weakness in terms of networking and internet functionality, forcing its rival to better serve Google's core business goals, whilst initiating its own steady, slow-motion decline."
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Chrome OS Designed To Start Microsoft Death Spiral

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  • Hogwash (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Devout_IPUite (1284636) on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:25AM (#29011161)

    Microsoft like SEGA will survive after it's core product ends. Microsoft makes a lot of tools, these will still be used and profitable once Windows is gone (the thought of now more windows makes me giddy though)

    • Re:Hogwash (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:33AM (#29011265) Journal

      Microsoft has nearly missed the boat before. During Chicago's development, Microsoft all but dropped the ball on that whole Internet thing, at the last moment pasting in Windows for Workgroup's networking engine to support TCP/IP. The initial version of IE sucked, but, in the end, they beat the snot out of Netscape. They even retroactively threw in the Shiva PPP dialer and their own Winsock stack for Windows 3.1, thus pretty much killing Trumpet Winsock.

      I won't believe Microsoft's going down the tubes until I actually see Microsoft down the tubes. They're the Energizer Bunny of the computer world, even if they have to steal or assassinate their competition to keep going.

      • Re:Hogwash (Score:5, Funny)

        by melikamp (631205) on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:47AM (#29011483) Homepage Journal

        They're the Energizer Bunny of the computer world, even if they have to steal or assassinate their competition to keep going.

        This is just in: Energizer Bunny arrested, charged with battery.

      • Re:Hogwash (Score:5, Insightful)

        by djdavetrouble (442175) on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:48AM (#29011505) Homepage

        Don't forget they are also willing to purchase any small companies that threaten comptition.

        • Re:Hogwash (Score:5, Insightful)

          by mixmatch (957776) on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:53AM (#29011583) Homepage
          How is that relevant to the discussion of Google competing with their core product?
        • Re:Hogwash (Score:5, Funny)

          by melikamp (631205) on Monday August 10, 2009 @11:46AM (#29012417) Homepage Journal

          GATES Your Internet ad was brought to my attention, but I can't figure out what, if anything, CompuGlobalHyperMegaNet does, so rather than risk competing with you, I've decided simply to buy you out.

          Homer and Marge step aside to talk privately.

          HOMER This is it Marge. I've poured my heart and soul into this business and now it's finally paying off. (covering his mouth) We're rich! Richer than astronauts.

          MARGE Homer quiet. Acquire the deal.

          HOMER (to Gates) I reluctantly accept your proposal!

          GATES Well everyone always does. Buy 'em out, boys!

          Bill Gates' companions begin to trash the "office".

          HOMER Hey, what the hell's going on!

          GATES Oh, I didn't get rich by writing a lot of checks!

          Bill Gates lets out a maniacal laugh.

        • Re:Hogwash (Score:4, Informative)

          by sexconker (1179573) on Monday August 10, 2009 @11:57AM (#29012603)

          Just like Google!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by msormune (808119)
        To be fair, it's not like Microsoft beat Netscape with a superior product, but Netscape completely wasted their market share on bad business decisions.
        • Re:Hogwash (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Krneki (1192201) on Monday August 10, 2009 @11:36AM (#29012261)

          To be fair, it's not like Microsoft beat Netscape with a superior product, but Netscape completely wasted their market share on bad business decisions.

          Both the US and EU court decided that M$ used their monopoly position to force Netscape out of business. But hey, you are still free to believe it was Netscape's fault.

          • Re:Hogwash (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Man On Pink Corner (1089867) on Monday August 10, 2009 @11:49AM (#29012457)

            I know when I'm looking for insight into the software industry and the relative merits of different Web browsers, court decisions handed down by narcoleptic 70-year-old judges who still have their secretaries print all their emails are the first place I look.

          • Re:Hogwash (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Monday August 10, 2009 @11:51AM (#29012483)

            I used Netscape instead of IE, and it was pretty damn bloated. The feature-set was just barely worth dealing with the sluggish performance. Especially since IE wasn't exactly a lean mean browsing machine at the time. If it had been, the would not have needed to abuse their position.

            I also think the EU's ruling that shipping windows with IE as illegal doesn't make a lot of sense, given all the other stuff they ship with windows and always have shipped with windows. Why is only one of them a bad thing? If the others are ok, why is the browser not?

          • Re:Hogwash (Score:4, Interesting)

            by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Monday August 10, 2009 @01:46PM (#29014405) Journal

            They should have been forced to use Netscape 4 for a year before rendering their decision. Here is roughly what Netscape 4 was like. Oh look, I'm loading a web page....and now its crashed/grumbles....reloads Netscape 4/ alright! Here comes my webpage...and Netscape 4 has locked smooth up and taken the PC with it. /grumbles as he restarts the machine. Loads IE when it has finally reloaded and reconnected to dialup/ Oh look here comes my webpage /winces, and waits for crash or lockup/ Hey! I'm actually looking at a webpage! And the PC is still running! Thanks MSFT!

            You see it wasn't that IE was all that and a bag of chips, it was that it didn't crash and freeze and shit itself every 5 minutes like Netscape 4 did. The original Netscape 4 was such a horrible pile of shit that it couldn't even reasonably be called alpha quality. By the time they made Netscape 4 halfway stable it was simply too late, folks had gotten tired of the crashes and freezes and moved on. It really is that simple. After all nobody paid me and all my customers to switch to IE, it was the POS Netscape 4 that did that all by itself. If Netscape 4 wouldn't have been a total POS they would probably still be around and have a good chunk of the market, as users hate change and the Netscape UI was actually quite nice. Too bad with NS4 they didn't bother hooking a working engine to their UI.

      • Re:Hogwash (Score:5, Insightful)

        by religious freak (1005821) on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:57AM (#29011627)
        Yes, but when threatened with survival or making correct decisions, they always had Bill. Not anymore...
      • Re:Hogwash (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ubrgeek (679399) on Monday August 10, 2009 @11:00AM (#29011679)
        True, then they started buying any company that had anything related to the Internet. Remember Vermeer Technologies Inc.? They created FrontPage and MS snatched them up to compete with other editors out there like HotDog. There was another company I saw at Internet World at the same time. They had some easy-to-use, drag-and-drop Java applet creator. Was interesting. Two days after their press conference MS grabbed them, too.
      • Re:Hogwash (Score:5, Insightful)

        by recoiledsnake (879048) on Monday August 10, 2009 @11:01AM (#29011697)

        Microsoft has nearly missed the boat before. During Chicago's development, Microsoft all but dropped the ball on that whole Internet thing, at the last moment pasting in Windows for Workgroup's networking engine to support TCP/IP. The initial version of IE sucked, but, in the end, they beat the snot out of Netscape. They even retroactively threw in the Shiva PPP dialer and their own Winsock stack for Windows 3.1, thus pretty much killing Trumpet Winsock.

        I won't believe Microsoft's going down the tubes until I actually see Microsoft down the tubes. They're the Energizer Bunny of the computer world, even if they have to steal or assassinate their competition to keep going.

        Missing the boat didn't hurt them that much. Why? Because third parties(like Trumpet that you mentioned) filled in the gap for the most popular OS. I don't see a reason that will change much now. Why? Because even Google said this during their announcement. http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/07/introducing-google-chrome-os.html [blogspot.com]

        All web-based applications will automatically work and new applications can be written using your favorite web technologies. 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.

        So Windows and Macs will run all the Win32 and Mac programs like Office and Photoshop and also run the same web apps that Chrome will run. That means Google Chrome won't have a Killer App, except for the UI, security and cost? So Chrome has to be THAT GOOD in order to make people switch from Windows since stuff like Gmail already runs well in browsers.

        And there are lots applications that make no sense to be run in a browser with Back, Forward, Refresh buttons. And not to mention the performance overhead. For example, I like my IDE to be native, thanks. It's slow enough as it is. Will people be willing to give up their native apps just to make the interface better or faster(lets assume Google can do that)? Will Chrome OS innovate that much in UI and security that it will make people switch? I doubt it. Chrome browser already has improvements in speed and UI but that hasn't motivated people to switch.

        Fake Steve's interesting take on Chrome OS here --> http://fakesteve.blogspot.com/2009/07/lets-all-take-deep-breath-and-get-some.html [blogspot.com]

        • by mario_grgic (515333) on Monday August 10, 2009 @12:18PM (#29012985)

          The point of Chrome is not for people to switch to Chrome. Nor is it to write killer apps unique for Chrome. The point of Chrome is to make Microsoft start writing web apps, and moving away from desktop. It's like luring the shark out of water to compete in your territory on the land. Google lives on the Internet, and Chrome OS is the Internet OS, that will hopefully move Microsoft to the Internet even more than they have (Office online, Windows Live etc). And more of Microsoft services online, the better it is for Google. Since Google are the king of Internet and in effect are making Microsoft compete with them outside of their core competence (desktop). And having to compete with Google online, takes away resources from desktop.

      • Re:Hogwash (Score:4, Insightful)

        by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@b[ ].org ['eau' in gap]> on Monday August 10, 2009 @11:48AM (#29012445)

        > I won't believe Microsoft's going down the tubes until I actually see Microsoft down the tubes.

        Oh I agree they should not be 'misunderestimated'. But this is a totally new threat. Netscape was a company and could be killed. Microsoft 'choked off their air supply' and they died. But note what happened next:

        "Mammon slept. And the beast reborn spread over the earth and its numbers
        grew legion. And they proclaimed the times and sacrificed crops unto the
        fire, with the cunning of foxes. And they built a new world in their own
        image as promised by the sacred words, and spoke of the beast with their
        children. Mammon awoke, and lo! it was naught but a follower.

        from The Book of Mozilla, 11:9
        (10th Edition)"

        Netscape didn't just take their source tree with them into the long sleep of death. They cast it out into a lonely world where it suffered for years, but now it is back and kicking butt. And without much of a corporate structure to attack.

        Now it gets worse again. The world is changing, and in ways Microsoft is finding it hard to follow. All of the other efforts at Microsoft lose money, supported by the gushers of cash Windows and Office produce. They grew to believe that 'every non-mac PC would pay tribute to Microsoft forever and every corporate PC will license Office.' And they might continue to do so. But the price of a PC is falling to such new low prices they simply cannot support the current pricing for Windows. So they must soon make a decision. Lower the price and maintain the universal aspect of Windows or maintain the cash cow by focusing on the more profitable end of the PC range. Both probably aren't an option any more and the question is whether either can be maintained for long without the other. There just aren't enough PCs sold to make the stockholders happy with a $25 license fee. And there probably won't long be enough expensive PCs sold to keep the profits flowing with $100 licenses either.

        So the only good option they have is to quickly get the other divisions to stop being places to bury the obscene profits from Windows and Office and get them profitable as new revenue flows to replace the ones about to go in to decline. So the big question is: Can an XBox sold at a profit compete?

    • Re:Hogwash (Score:5, Interesting)

      by BlueKitties (1541613) <bluekitties616@gmail.com> on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:38AM (#29011321)
      Yeah, I doubt tools like Visual Studio will go down easy. I do some of my work in Eclipse, but when I'm working with C++ on Win32, I want my VC++. As for Office... sorry MS, I switch to google docs a few weeks ago.
  • My Bet (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MyLongNickName (822545) on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:27AM (#29011173) Journal

    I will gladly bet that Microsoft will still be a highly profitable company in twenty years. The fallacy of this write as with many other prognosticators is that the game is zero-sum. This is false. IT is growing and will continue to grow as long as there is an economy to support.

    Microsoft likely will need to reposition itself in the market as Google grows. However, Microsoft will be a big player for at least another generation and likely many more.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hedwards (940851)
      That's not true at all. IT will continue to grow until it fills the need, then it will stop growing. IT isn't magic, it can't continue to grow just because there's an economy to support. And when it hits that point, it definitely will be a zero sum game, it's just not cost effective or wise to continue to grow IT just because one can and at that point there definitely will be winners and losers.
      • Re:My Bet (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Monday August 10, 2009 @11:00AM (#29011691) Journal
        I agree with hedwards. There is already talk of a "levelling" and a saturation point. I think Google is smart in developing chrome. I am NOT a fan of "cloud computing" because most of what I do has to do with flop intensive activities (audio and video and image editing) and doing that in the aether is not a wise or efficient idea. If google can make chrome run as well offline as it does online, then they will definitely win that area.

        Where I agree with MyLongNickName is that Microsoft is also a moving target. Google may roust them out of the OS game, and FOSS may scramble their software niche, that doesn't mean that M$ is up the creek sans paddle. MS just has to adjust their direction and change targets, using, as usual, Apple as a model. 10 years ago Apple made hardware and a small handful of fairly minor applications. Apple changed targets and focus and now it Rooolz the roost with iPod, iTunes, iPhone, and has a large stable of other fine apps (FinalCutPro, Logic, Keynote, GarageBand, etc.) Watch MS do the same kind of zig zag. It probably won't be the same as Apple (Apple's already there and has staked out the turf) but MS will find some other equally lucrative direction.

        As an iPhone has more RAM, storage, speed, and video capabilities than my first half dozen computers, COMBINED, it is absurd to discuss IT in terms of Only Computers. This is where I think we will see even Google's first stumble.

        Example: give an iPhone HDMI out and two 6pin USB ports. Game over. No more need for desktop, laptop, anything. Just your "iPhone" and a charger, a monitor and keyboard at home and at the office. Done.

        If google's phone system can do that on (x) brand phones (and can convince someone like RIM or Panasonic to build one with HDMI/USB) then Google beats Apple to the punch and wins almost the entire future computer market.

        And MS in all of that? They have enough money they could build their own damn phone w/ HDMI/USB, and sell them with Verizon for $200 and beat Google AND Apple to the punch.

        It's not a matter of if - it's a question of when and how.

        RS

    • Re:My Bet (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Tubal-Cain (1289912) on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:45AM (#29011441) Journal

      I will gladly bet that Microsoft will still be a highly profitable company in twenty years. The fallacy of this write as with many other prognosticators is that the game is zero-sum.

      Much like what happened to IBM.

    • Re:My Bet (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MBGMorden (803437) on Monday August 10, 2009 @11:06AM (#29011785)

      I think you're correct, but I don't think Microsoft will continue indefinitely as they are now. Like it or not, tons of stuff IS moving onto the web ("cloud" or whatever trendy word they want to call it this week). Linux and Firefox have already shown that enough volunteers are out there to produce software that gets you to that web for FREE. When a free product will do what you want it to people won't continue to shell out mega bucks for windows over and over.

      What I think Microsoft will continue to dominate at is Office apps. MS Office has always beat Google Docs for usability and with the introduction of web-based MS Office products I think Microsoft is already preparing to capitalize on it's strengths.

      Besides Office, (and windows which as mentioned I think has a limited lifespan left), they also are prime supplies of development tools (Visual Studio) and SQL Server. In the future I see ports of SQL Server to non-Windows platforms, as well as more shifts in Visual Studio towards developing web-based applications.

      Having worked in corporate IT, I can honestly say that while Google or Microsoft hosting our web based apps just won't fly, hosting web based application in house on our own servers is a God-send. Switching out user workstations is trivial, there's no worry about the users saving the data into the wrong location, and upgrading an application only has to be done once. Not to mention we just get fewer "quirky" machines this way. If the browser works right and the server is configured right, it works. No DLL's to track down and register on one stubborn machine or anything.

      So yeah, I think MS has strengths and will continue to be powerful and profitable for a time to come, but the Microsoft of 20 years from now will very likely not look much like the Microsoft of today.

  • I wonder... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Etrias (1121031) on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:27AM (#29011179)
    In Australia, does the MS death spiral go counter-clockwise?
  • Entirely Net-Based? (Score:5, Informative)

    by steve_thatguy (690298) on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:27AM (#29011181)
    I don't know the tech details of ChromeOS yet, but I get the impression it's mostly if not entirely net-based. I think that's going to leave Microsoft with a fairly comfortable marketshare even if it takes off because, to some extent, many people want *their* files and *their* processing to be solely under *their* control. There's something to be said for having your own house with your own yard and fence versus living in an apartment building with millions of other people. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by paimin (656338)
      Yeah, that's why nobody uses gmail.
      • by steve_thatguy (690298) on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:43AM (#29011393)
        Apples and oranges. E-mail is an application that only makes sense if there's a network connection. Editing my home movies, not so much.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by fortyonejb (1116789)
          That's actually a pretty good example. We wouldn't necessarily want to 1) have our home videos exposed to the web and 2) have to deal with the latency of a connection, or other technological limitations. As I do some audio creation on my computer (mostly bad music for fun, i admit), I can see no reason why a cloud style OS would improve my experience.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          E-mail is an application that only makes sense if there's a network connection

          Have you ever been in a train or plane with three days of e-mails to catch up with ? Obviously not :-)

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Funny, I routinely read and compose emails on subway trains (no Internet connection), Greyhound buses (no Internet connection), Amtrak (no Internet connection), and airplanes (no Internet connection). The only reason webmail is popular is that people do not like taking the time to configure an email program to connect to their POP3/IMAP server.
      • by arth1 (260657) on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:44AM (#29011425) Homepage Journal

        No, it's why not everyone uses g-mail (and similar), and why many companies ban its use.

        What the GP tried to tell you, but I think you missed, is that there isn't an either/or situation, but room for many players with different types of solutions.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Algan (20532)

        How many corporations use gmail as their email system?
        Personally, I use Gmail, but I still want my files to be on my computers and on my own backups.
        Especially since Gmail lost about 4 years of my mail archives and couldn't be bothered to restore them from backup (if they ever have backups)

    • by jav1231 (539129) on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:57AM (#29011633)
      I think you're right. People have touted the 'Net as the OS for years. The problem is you will have a hard time wrestling power from the user. Yes, novices will use whatever the masses are using. But geeks will want the computing power local and as users become more savvy they're not likely to be as turned on by the Net as the OS.
  • Malodorous Headline (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:28AM (#29011193) Journal

    Chrome OS Designed To Start Microsoft Death Spiral

    Hopefully that's not their primary goal. Remember, if your primary goal isn't to do something positive for the customer then it ain't gonna work.

    Luckily I know that there's a bit more to Chrome OS than Microsoft death threats. It's a nice thought but ... you've got a long way to go. You also need to consider that everyone is using something right now and you need to convince die hard Linux fans to leave their loyal distro of choice and follow you onward. That's just as important to success as targeting Windows, I would wager. Me, personally, would be impressed if you can get better hardware support and either work around Flash or pinch Adobe into supporting Flash on Linux. Those would be huge and I think would be highly decisive.

    Also, I'm glad they didn't break this news six years ago when they started thinking about it ... nobody wants another Duke Nukem or Hurd [gnu.org] where we're perpetually waiting and cracking jokes about it.

    • by Desler (1608317) on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:32AM (#29011259)

      or pinch Adobe into supporting Flash on Linux

      They've supported Flash on Linux for quite some time now since they started doing simultaneous OS releases. Linux was even the first to get experimental 64-bit support.

    • by pearl298 (1585049) <mikewatersazNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday August 10, 2009 @11:04AM (#29011729)

      Me, personally, would be impressed if you can get better hardware support and either work around Flash or pinch Adobe into supporting Flash on Linux.

      Hardware support is essentially a question of OS market share!

      Sad but true.

      As Firefox has gained market share the support suddenly appeared and you are starting to see the same thing happening with OSX.

      You can see that from the number of websites which now support Firefox, a couple of years ago at least 60% of websites I visited required IE, now there are hardly any!

      Even those websites that require IE are almost all stuck on "IE 6" - which by itself says a lot about the website support!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Guess the expression is a bit too hard. Google in this case has the same view as the Linux community: make operating systems better (and if Windows can't adopt, they will see a slow and steady decline - well, maybe a bit faster than now).

      Google's core market are web applications, and they figured they could get a lot of support by doing the right thing and improve on an existing platform.

      Currently - out of the perspective of commercial entities - Linux has 3 main problems: minor market penetration, lacks a

  • by plover (150551) * on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:28AM (#29011201) Homepage Journal

    Not that I'm a Apple advocate, but Apple has had a far superior OS to Windows for the last 8 years, and they've barely dented the PC market. If OS X can't change the Windows mindset, Chrome sure as hell can't.

    Chrome is just a shiny object in Sergei's eye. It won't have an impact outside the geek arena.

    • by PhrostyMcByte (589271) <phrosty@gmail.com> on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:35AM (#29011291) Homepage
      I wonder how different that picture would be if you could install and sell OSX, without any legal ambiguity, on any PC you want.
    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:36AM (#29011297) Journal

      Not that I'm a Apple advocate, but Apple has had a far superior OS to Windows for the last 8 years, and they've barely dented the PC market. If OS X can't change the Windows mindset, Chrome sure as hell can't.

      I really must object. This is a dangerous stance as I cannot say I've seen much more of Chrome OS than hype but let's imagine it's got really good hardware support and really good software support (tangible). Now let's also say that it's geared toward virtualization ... which this cloud article leads me to believe. Now let's also assume that it works (as a virtualized instance) on every other operating system. Okay, so my problem with OSX is that I can't just download it and run it legally on whatever the hell I want. That's overcome. The other thing is that people are going to go looking for solutions to problems. If Chrome OS is that solution, they will be able to virtualize it, see that it works and probably make the switch if they want to. The whole preview first thing would be benefit since it's going to be open source.

      Also, everyone can be encouraged to try it virtualized like any other application and get rid of it if they don't like it with no change to their system. Very appealing trial marketing here. Also, it's open source, OSX isn't.

      There's a lot of differences I could continue to cite but I think you're mistaken in comparing it to OSX's failed attempt at desktop domination. You'd do better to compare it to Linux's failed attempt at the desktop ... but then we're on to the corporate strong arm support Google is promising. Hardware and flash support would make a lot of people happy (as I posted earlier).

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Darkness404 (1287218)
      Its because Apple doesn't want to make cheap computers that people want to spend money on. $999 for their cheapest laptop? The last three laptops I've bought have all been sub-$400. $599 for their cheapest desktop? The last desktop I bought was relatively high-end for no more than $450, plus its easily upgradable unlike the mini.

      OS X isn't Apple's downfall, its the fact their computers are so annoyingly expensive that most people won't buy them. I know I don't have $1K to spend on a laptop, especially w
      • by sandbenders (301132) on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:59AM (#29011665) Homepage
        <quote>OS X isn't Apple's downfall, its the fact their computers are so annoyingly expensive that most people won't buy them. </quote>

        Ugh. The expensive computers aren't their downfall, they are their business model. Say it with me, folks: "Apple is a HARDWARE company." OS X is a value-add, maybe the biggest one in history, to sell more hardware. They don't make cheaper hardware because enough people will buy their expensive hardware to keep them profitable. Apple doesn't make discount computers for the same reason you can't buy a Cadillac subcompact: they are a premium hardware company. Making cheap computers will cut into their profit (why make $50/computer when you can make $300/computer?) and turn out crappier 'value' Macs, further diluting the brand. For the same reason, they don't offer OS X for other platforms. It's designed to sell their hardware. Selling it for PC eats into their hardware sales while upping the numbers of people who install OS X inexpertly or on wacky hardware and then decide it's unreliable.

        Rate this -1 or +1, but make sure it says 'Obvious'.
      • by FranTaylor (164577) on Monday August 10, 2009 @11:00AM (#29011675)

        Do you really expect anyone to believe that the cost of the computer is the cost of your computing?

        Intelligent people who also factor in other costs often end up choosing Macs as the TOTAL low-cost alternative.

        I bought a Mac for my wife, it is by far the cheapest solution because I spend zero time fixing it for her.

      • by alen (225700) on Monday August 10, 2009 @11:03AM (#29011715)

        more like close to $3000 for a 15" MBP once you get the 9600M which is still obsolete compared to current PC laptop graphics cards, Applecare, tax and a few other accessories. You can configure a Dell laptop with better specs for $1500. only difference is MBP's have DDR 3 RAM which is expensive and you'll probably never notice the difference. but the MBP is 8 ounces lighter for all you wimps out there

      • by whisper_jeff (680366) on Monday August 10, 2009 @11:03AM (#29011721)

        ...but I don't have $600 I can just spend on a desktop that will quickly go obsolete...

        Ok, therein lies the biggest misconception of a Mac. It doesn't "quickly go obsolete." I'm using a Mac Pro that is ... six years old and it's still working damn well. Not "adequately" - it's working incredibly well. Photoshop, Warcraft, Final Cut, Soundtrack Pro, and more. I would love to upgrade to a newer computer (namely something with an Intel chip) but I just can't justify upgrading because what I have now is more than sufficient. Upgrading now would be buying a new toy just because - there's no real justification for getting a new computer because I don't _need_ to upgrade. Short of a catastrophic failure of hardware, I see it remaining more than adequate for several more years. I will not be the least bit surprised if I'm still using it a full decade after it was bought and still using it at a high level. Now, call me crazy, but in the realm of computers, getting a decade worth of use out of a computer is FAR from it quickly going obsolete... I challenge you to get the same sort of life out of a PC, to be blunt (and I say that having a newer-but-dead PC sitting beside my Mac, it's power supply having given up, rendering the newer PC nothing more than a large and expensive paper weight...).

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by UnknowingFool (672806)

        Certainly you can get a cheaper laptop/desktop than Apple. If all you value is money, then Apples are definitely not worth their value. If you value other things than money, than Apples might be worth it. I spent over 15 years building desktops at home and work. Some ran Windows; some ran Linux. I have a networked MythTV system at home. The reason I bought a Mac is my time has become more valuable than the money.

        I did a quick comparison and the price difference between the cheapest PC laptop and the c

    • by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:48AM (#29011519) Journal

      This "superior" line always bothers me a little. Anyone who reads my posts here knows I dislike Microsoft intensely, but is OSX really any better than Windows? It has a microkernel architecture, which tends to mean greater stability, but also means a hit to performance. Windows still runs on a larger variety of hardware. If you toss something like Cygwin in, you've pretty much got the equivalent of the BSD userland that ships with OSX. We could go on about interface, but to be honest, I think all GUIs kinda suck (I learned my trade on DOS and *nix machines, and still revert to the command line for all but the simpler file copy operations). OSX certainly is less "messy" than Windows, but judging by the number of people who prefer KDE over Gnome, I would suspect some people like busy desktops, and some people like all-but-empty desktops.

      When I'm planning a new server, OSX never really crosses my mind. For 90% of the tasks, I'll pick a Linux or BSD box; no GUI, a quarter century worth the tried and tested tools (that kind of conservatism appeals to people like me, who don't want to have to rewrite shell scripts everytime the OS maker decides to shake things up), incredible support (I've gotten solutions to problems in an hour for problems I was having with Samba and ACLs) and, well, very low licensing costs. I'll use Windows for domain controllers and Exchange servers, and for the odd server app that requires Windows. As to the users on the network, well most of them would have seizures if Office 2003 didn't show up, and I can pick up a low-end Windows box for web browsing, word processing and spreadsheets (which encompasses about 95% of what my users do) for significantly less than anything Apple offers.

      As to security, the only reason non-Windows machines sem more secure is because market share is too low for most malware writers to waste their time. But look at recent iPhone SMS attacks. Apple has no special magic security aura, and neither does Linux or BSD, though I will grant that because most things do not run as root, security flaws tend to be more limited.

      So, to my mind, "superior" is wholly subjective. It depends entirely on the parameters.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jedidiah (1196)

        Yes, MacOS is actually better than Windows.

        Put simply, Apple makes technology for the end user rather than
        as a means to making money or a product to be sold to OEMs.

        This is something that has always been apparent in Apple products
        even if you don't necessarily agree with what their user-centric
        focus led them to.

    • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday August 10, 2009 @11:05AM (#29011755) Homepage

      Well I wouldn't write Chrome off so simply as that. First, for every bit that Apple is cool and stylish, there's also a tremendous backlash against it. There are people who absolutely hate Apple for its trendiness alone.

      Second, OSX is good, and you can even argue that it's "the best desktop OS available", but that doesn't mean that it's "the best desktop OS for meeting every single person's needs". It's not perfect, and in fact often aims for the lowest common denominator. I don't mean that to be insulting (I use OSX), but if there's a feature that Apple thinks will make things more complicated and won't be used by 90% of users, they'll drop that feature. That may even be the right choice when you get down to it, but it means that they're not addressing the needs of that 10%.

      Third, Apple doesn't have an extremely varied hardware line, and OSX is (theoretically/legally) bound to Apple's hardware. That means that even if OSX meets your needs, if Apple's hardware doesn't also meet your needs, then you can't use it.

      And fourth, Apple *has* made a dent in the PC market. How much depends on who you ask and how you measure it. Is it market share? OSX sales? Dollars spent on Apple/OSX products vs. Windows products? You'd probably need a lot of data and experts to hash it all out, and those are things I don't have. But you know who does have them? Microsoft. And why do you think they've focused most of their recent advertising in attaching good feelings to the phrase "I'm a PC," while claiming that Macs are too expensive? If Apple weren't a genuine threat, they wouldn't bother.

      Of course, none of this is to say that Chrome is going to kill Windows.

    • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Monday August 10, 2009 @11:37AM (#29012273)

      If OS X can't change the Windows mindset, Chrome sure as hell can't.

      The difference between OS X and ChromeOS is that OS X is Apple's crown jewel. It is how they differentiate their computers and make money.If they were to seperate it from their hardware they'd be directly competing against windows and MS could use their Windows monopoly to crush Apple unless Apple wrote it off as a loss and used their other revenue streams to support it. In short, Apple would have to put 50%+ of their profit on the line for very little return at high risk. It's not good business.

      ChromeOS, on the other hand, is a value added to Google's crown jewels, their advertising and search business. Google is not risking any primary investment and can afford to develop the OS at a loss. Further, they can go past Apple's use of open source and gain more free code and work from the community than is practical for Apple.

      Apple's only practical business model is to chip away at the Windows monopoly and hope others do the same until it is no longer powerful enough to be used to crush them. Google can go whole hog right away and directly compete with Windows by giving Chrome OS away and supporting it without any fear of their profits being destroyed. It's a different game.

  • by XPeter (1429763) * on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:29AM (#29011215) Homepage

    Google: Buy our OS, it'll run on any computer and you can buy the speed you need.

    It seems likely that this will be Google's new market once Chrome and the cloud are developed further. Microsoft and Apple will most likely follow suit.

  • by buchner.johannes (1139593) on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:31AM (#29011243) Homepage Journal

    apt-get search will have advertisement on the right side

  • oh FFS slashdot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kuzb (724081) on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:32AM (#29011255)

    Have you not learned yet? You've been screaming doom and destruction at MS for years now and it still hasn't even made so much of a dent. I'm glad that Google is entering the OS market - having another competitor, and one with a history of excellence that google has is a good thing. However, this is not going to start the death spiral of any thing, just like the chrome browser isn't killing any of the major players off.

    These sensationalist headlines do not belong here.

  • Chrome isn't an OS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cdrguru (88047) on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:35AM (#29011289) Homepage

    It is geated for appliances, not general-purpose computers.

    Now I will grant that most of what people do today would be easily fulfilled by an appliance. And we would all be far more secure with appliances that could not be subverted by botnets, viruses, trojans, etc. An email/web appliance would satisfy 99% of home users and probably could be slightly extended with web applications to work for 50-60% of business users as well.

    So who is building the hot new appliance? Nobody. All previous email appliances have died, mostly from a lack of functionality. Today people see a very false progression from a full-function appliance to a "real ocmputer" as being a short leap, so why not take it? The reality is the appliance with limited (or zero) local storage and no ability to install software (or trojans, viruses, botnets, etc.) would be much, much better for everyone using the Internet.

    Could you make an appliance immune to phishing? Probably.

    OK, so Chrome OS would be great for an appliance... except nobody is even contemplating building an appliance today. With the thousands (millions?) of Windows-based x86 applications out there for our general-purpose computers, who is going to displace Microsoft? An OS with a rich API, multimedia capabilities and access to the full capabilities of a computer? Or an OS where the API is a browser and nothing else?

    Sorry, but Chrome OS might be OK for a netbook. Maybe. It has no place on a desktop computer.

  • Nice article (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Slothrup (73029) <curt.hagenlocher@org> on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:39AM (#29011343)

    It's a good article, and well-worth reading. But it bears only a marginal resemblence to the teaser headline CmdrTaco has slapped on it...

  • Cloud Computing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DaMattster (977781) on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:43AM (#29011407)
    Is ultimately a fad. I do not see any real utility in giving control of my software and security to a third party company. In fact, just the opposite. Given Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo's dubious record for security, I and many other savvy computer users will not be welcoming our Cirrus overlords any time soon. It definitely holds little value to business and industry because they like to retain control over there information and rightly so. The disadvantage of going back to centralized computing is placing all your eggs in one basket: one intruder comprises a system and has gained, quite literally, the keys to the castle. It often shocks me to see how many people use twitter, facebook, and their ilk - just blindly eschewing their own privacy because something looks cool. This follow the crowd mentality, "sheeple," if you will is not a good a thing. It is amazing what information one can glean from these sites and if any become compromised, we open ourselves to identity theft on a scale unimagined.
    • Re:Cloud Computing (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Xouba (456926) on Monday August 10, 2009 @11:37AM (#29012275) Homepage

      Remember that most of the people that hang here is not a good representation of the "common people". Common people don't know much about computers, internet or security. And they don't care. They use what's fun and easy, even if it's bug-ridden, insecure, unhealthy and radioactive. They are not computer geeks, they're just people.

      And people, not geeks like you and me, is what drives the market. If Chrome OS is easier and funnier to use than Windows, many people will use it. Even if has a security hole so big that you coud fit a truck into it, even if it makes their pictures being naked and drunk available to anyone in the Internet. Because they, and most of their friends, won't care. They just want to play with the damn thing.

  • by ArhcAngel (247594) on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:46AM (#29011467)

    I can't count the number of companies that have made the same claims only to be crushed by the Microsoft Juggernaut by simply having better PR and marketing. In fact the Bing marketing blitz over the last month has been very visible and well put together. Google search is remarkable but some of its functionality is not at all intuitive for the lay-searcher. Microsoft is trying to take advantage of that and if there's one thing Microsoft IS good at it's marketing.

  • If you want to RTFA (Score:3, Informative)

    by ghmh (73679) on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:47AM (#29011493)
    Click here [technologyreview.com] to start on page 1. The link in the summary is for page 2?
  • by alen (225700) on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:50AM (#29011533)

    for their cloud and cell phone products

    and Google's products are routinely left unpolished in the usability arena unlike Apple and MS. i gave up trying to scan my photos into Picasa and went back to one of Microsoft's free apps or one of the ones in MS Office. the google desktop has been banned in a lot of companies for its ability to kill MS Exchange and Blackberry Enterprise Server. Android is seen only on brand x cell phones where no one cares what the model is. iphone and pre seem to get the cool branding.

    If Chrome OS is like any other Google product then Apple and MS have nothing to worry about.

  • by Ilgaz (86384) on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:50AM (#29011543) Homepage

    If Google passes the line between privacy and convenience, we will read some horror stories about it and it can actually lead to some very interesting developments like FSF getting into the future drama as it will be based on Linux.

    We may end up reading things like "World's first spyware OS" right here, on Slashdot. We may see FSF or Linus openly protest it.

    Google thinks everyone buys their "not evil" kind of slogans and design software based on it. Someone should remind them that those times are over. Also, being open source won`t change a thing. If it gathers your location and posts it to Google servers, it won`t matter if it is open source or not. Even if they hire (!) rms to code it, it won`t matter.

  • by owlnation (858981) on Monday August 10, 2009 @11:41AM (#29012329)
    Linux is superior to Windows in many ways. OSX is also superior in many ways.

    It's nothing to do with the OS. There are two factors that drive change. Price, and features (and by features, I actually mean the software you can use on it. The OS is worthless on its own to an end user.)

    OSX (or the hardware that runs it) is more expensive, so that keeps many users, and big business out.

    Linux may be free, but there's no truly viable MS Office alternative, nothing that matches Exchange, there's no professional level Photoshop, there's nothing to edit videos with, nor post processing, good luck doing complex audio work. Sure you can browse the web, and do many things, but not at the convenience/utility level that you can in Windows. If you work in an office environment, you'd have to be a zealot to use Open Office, and you'd struggle to get your corporate email and meeting system working. If you are a creative professional -- Linux is completely worthless. Sorry, but it is. I wish that were not the case, but there's no professional-level creative apps for Linux.

    And that's is why there's been no year of Linux so far. End users don't care about the OS that much, they care about what they can install on it. Of all the programs available for Linux, few are of comparable quality to those available to Windows or OSX.

    And this will be the case for Chrome OS too -- at least in the short term.
  • Slow down, cowboy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by westlake (615356) on Monday August 10, 2009 @01:19PM (#29013991)

    This is what one of Microsoft's Open Source competitors had to say about SharePoint:

    Microsoft has found a way to create ties between SharePoint and its more traditional products like Office and Exchange. Companies can tweak Office documents through SharePoint and receive information like whether a worker is online or not through tools in Exchange. These links have Microsoft carrying along its old-line software as it builds a more Internet-focused software line.

    "SharePoint is saving Microsoft's Office business even as it paves the way for a new era of Microsoft lock-in," said Matt Asay, an executive at Alfresco, which makes an open-source content management system. "It is simultaneously the most interesting and dangerous Microsoft technology, and has largely caught its competitors napping."


    Microsoft has managed to undercut even the open-source companies playing in the business software market by giving away a free basic license to SharePoint if they already have Windows Server. "It's a brilliant strategy that mimics open source in its viral, free distribution, but transcends open source in its ability to lock customers into a complete, not-free-at-all Microsoft stack - one for which they'll pay more and more the deeper they get into SharePoint," Mr. Asay said.
    Microsoft's SharePoint Thrives in the Recession [nytimes.com] [Aug 7]

    SharePoint is the hottest selling server side product for Microsoft ever.

    In its next iteration, SharePoint will have "stronger ties to the corporate search technology Microsoft acquired in the $1.2 billion purchase of Fast Search and Transfer. Best Buy uses the Fast technology today to provide on-the-fly pricing information to customers performing product searches on its Web site."

    The Net Applications global market stats for July are out. The weakness of Linux and FOSS in these stats is startling - and if you were looking for evidence of a real "death spiral," this would be a good place to begin.

    Operating System Market Share [hitslink.com] [Rounded]

    XP 73%
    Vista 18%
    OSX 10.5 3%
    Linux 1%
    OSX 10.4 1%
    W2K 1%
    Win 7 1%

    Browser Version Market Share [hitslink.com]

    IE 6 27%
    IE 7 23%
    FFOX 3 16%
    IE 8 12%
    FFOX 3.5 5%
    Chrome 2%
    Safari 2%

    Country Level Weighting [hitslink.com]

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