Microsoft’s Ballmer Dismisses Google Chrome OS


Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has dismissed Google’s “netbook”-centric operating system as unable to fully accomplish users’ needs

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer dismissed Google’s new Chrome OS as focusing too much on the netbook market, while praising his own company’s Bing search engine during his 14 July keynote address at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference in New Orleans.

Ballmer suggested that the Google Chrome OS, a browser-based operating system slated to roll out in the second half of 2010, was “highly interesting” but ultimately unable to fulfill the needs of users looking to use both online and offline applications.

“There’s good data that says 50 percent of the time that someone’s on their PC, they’re not doing something with the Web browser,” Ballmer said, suggesting that an ideal operating system would provide both rich online and offline integration.

“The last time I checked, you don’t need two client operating systems,” Ballmer added, referring to Android, Google’s already-released OS for mobile devices and mini-notebooks (known popularly as “netbooks”). “What we really do understand is that the model of the future brings together the best of rich Windows applications and what people consider the best of the Web.”

Hybridisation of desktop-based applications and platforms, traditionally one of Microsoft’s core strengths, and the cloud-based applications and platforms currently gaining popularity has been a theme of the conference. One of the key announcements has centered on Microsoft Office 2010, which will be launched as a free service for subscribers of Microsoft Live, in addition to being offered as a hosted subscription service and an on-premises application.

With regard to more cloud-centric applications, Microsoft also announced that Azure, its public cloud platform, would be free until Microsoft’s Professional Developers Conference in November. Designed to compete directly against similar offerings from both and Google, Azure will cost users for delivery of SAAS (software as a service) after that point.

Ballmer also used his speech to praise Bing, Microsoft’s new search engine.

“Man, oh man, have we taken a lot of abuse, and we’re still just an itsy-bitsy part of the market, but we have a little bit of mojo,” Ballmer said while pacing the stage in front of a giant projection of Bing’s main page.

However, he added, Bing is “as good a view of our tenacity and commitment as anything you’ve ever seen.”

Bing had grown to 5.25 percent of the U.S. online search market during the four weeks ending 27 June, growing at an average rate of 25 percent per week, according to a study by research company Hitwise. That places the search engine a solid third behind Yahoo, with 16.2 percent of the market, and Google, which Hitwise suggested owned 74 percent of the market.

A similar study by StatCounter found that Bing had gained 8.23 percent U.S. market-share in June. In addition to providing the standard-issue “page of hyperlinks” search, Bing also allows users to click on tabs that allow access to more granular categories such as “Shopping” or “Images.”

Despite its relatively low market-share, Bing has also attracted a good deal of media attention since its release at the beginning of June, and Microsoft seems inclined to continue its massive ad campaign, estimated at between (£49m) $80 million and $100 million, to promote the product.

“We don’t go home,” Ballmer said onstage, apparently getting enthused about the future prospects of both Bing and Microsoft. “We just keep coming and coming and coming; tenacious, tenacious, tenacious.”