The best news in years for Microsoft just hit the wires. Remember way back when Microsoft was under the threat of a breakup in the anti-trust days? Bill Gates famously pointed out Microsoft had no such thing as a monopoly, because (this was pre-Google) some company could come along at any moment and change the dynamics of the environment.
Soon he was proven exactly correct, as Google emerged with a browser-based Ajax-fueled broadband-harnessed realtime platform. Once this platform produced advertising network effects, the upstart company had all the ingredients to mount an attack on the inevitability of Microsoft. But what most saw as a direct attack on Microsoft actually produced more pain for other players. While Microsoft used the time to advance strongly in the enterprise server market, Sun lost control of its hardware leverage as Google built its realtime monetization engine on top of Linux.
Apple used the same window to move from its niche hardware and OS platforms to Intel and OS/10, grabbing the leadership in the mobile market and transferring its application base to a browser plus services approach. Did this harm Microsoft? Not really — it gave Redmond an OS target to compete against rather than against itself, and the time to migrate to a Web-based OS strategy that will show its current evolution this Friday with the release of Silverlight 3.
So now comes Chrome OS and what makes you think this puts any real hurt on Microsoft’s business. Mind share, media perception, even some developer erosion (although I doubt it.) Sure, the atmospherics are strong. After all, Google is in the advertising business. And although Chrome hasn’t produced real market share yet, it will start accelerating once the Mac version ships and all of us technocrats start loving on it full time. No, all of this is good news for Google. But bad news for Microsoft? Don’t think so.
WHere does it impact revenue anytime soon? Nowhere except in the enterprise, where it will increase IT’s need to sell into a strong Windows channel. Google will continue to garner occasional wins for Apps, which will largely serve to promote collaboration features coming in Office 2010. And oh yes SIlverlight, with its realtime streaming architecture, integrated adserver metrics, and oh maybe, a Silverlight based social center of the new desktop, which as Marc Benioff tells me is really the new center of the network.
Chrome OS couldn’t be a better driver for HTML5, for Silverlight, for AppEngine, for Azure, for Gphone/iPhone (forget the Pre), for Silverlight Mobile, and so on. Back and forth, as Google buys time to work with Apple and force H.264 back into HTML 5, while Microsoft buys time to build a SIlverlight Office around the micromessaging Trojan Horse. We’ll look back in the second half of 2010 when Chrome OS ships and see the midtier between Android and Windows filled with a realtime net-OS and two huge winners. As Bob Dylan says, It’s All Good. Only problem then is how to break up GoogleSoft. Good luck with that.