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OP: The Differences Between Google & Microsoft

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 65 comments

Late last night Google announced that it is working on a Chrome operating system. As was the case with the Chrome browser, the company plans to focus on speed and simplicity. Users want to boot up their computers and get online as quickly as possible and Google wants to help them do that. Similar to Chrome, its all open source and like Chrome, all anyone can talk about is what the news will mean for Microsoft.

You guys don't need the history lesson, so I'll skip the part where we go into huge detail about Google's launch as a search engine before it moved onto Gmail, Google Maps, Google Earth, Google Calendar, Gtalk, Google Docs, Latitude and everything else Google does and just ask you this, what's the difference between Microsoft trying to be everything at once and Google trying to be everything at once?

Over the last two years, people have been getting more and more excited about the prospect of a Google operating system. With the arrival of Android, that chatter has died down a little and instead, we're waiting with bated breath for the first Android-powered netbook or laptop, not to mention all the Android handsets on the horizon. That said, the eager anticipation is still there; we're still waiting for an OS from a company that made our search engine.

Then there’s the flip side that; a significant amount people criticize Microsoft for trying to be too many things at once. Windows, Bing, Internet Explorer; they hate monolithic Microsoft, but monolithic, colorful Google is a great idea.

Both companies have a ton of great products. Google supplies my browser, personal email and calendar and Microsoft supplies my word processor, office email client and OS. That said, to me it seems like Microsoft's efforts have made the company spread itself too thin, but Google's efforts give the impression of the company slowly but surely spreading out like some gross blob in a horror movie. It won't be long before the company enters another market, and then another, but why is it that no matter how hard I try, I can't bring myself to have a problem with it? I gave my brother a bell and asked him his opinion on this. Being a tech blogger, anthropologist and social networking guru/PR at a large European e-tailer he had this to add: It's not about perceived value, it's about perceived cost. Google offers the vast majority of its services for free, Microsoft charges you cold, hard cash. If a Google service stops working, it's not a tragedy because you weren't paying for it anyway. The opposite side of the coin is you spend a lump of cash putting MS Office and Windows on every machine in your house, an update knocks the whole thing down like a house of cards and you wait x amount of time for a fix. While you're waiting you think about the money you spent on the product that should be working but isn't.

What do you guys think? This one is definitely personal opinion. So, are you celebrating Google's foray into the OS market or are you fashioning yourself a tin-foil hat and refusing to let Google into yet another area of your computing experience? Further, do you think there's any difference between what Google is trying to do and what Microsoft is trying to do and most importantly, do you have a problem with the whole "one company for everything" concept? Let us know in the comments below!

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Top Comments
  • 11 Hide
    fulle , July 8, 2009 4:29 PM
    People are going to hate this analogy, but I see Microsoft as this...

    Microsoft is that old guy in your office, who's been around forever. He's not the best, mind you, not even close, but he keeps anyone from entering his niche areas through ruthless office politics. Nobody likes this guy, he's out of new ideas, and barely gets the job done... but, we keep him because there is no other alternative, since nobody can replace him without someone, magically, figuring out all the very specific niche things he knows.

    Like the old bastard, Microsoft has its claws sinked in and isn't going anywhere. We can loath them, love them, its really irrelevant, and thats what bothers me. They have such a monopoly on the OS and Office software markets, that competition with them isn't really competing, its more like fighting over kitchen scraps.

    Google... well, Google feels different. They're getting huge, but they're not a Microsoft yet, and at least they have some new ideas left. They dominate the internet add space, in a near monolithic fashion, but slight competition from Yahoo and Microsoft keeps this from making me lose sleep. But, Google's definitely worrying me with their data mining practices, which are even worse than Microsoft's.

    Both companies, to me at least, are a testimate to how damaging the US patent system is, and excellent examples on how a company can leverage patents to become a monopoly power in different markets.

    So... my TLDR version: Fuck them both, but I hate Microsoft more.
Other Comments
  • 1 Hide
    duckmanx88 , July 8, 2009 4:01 PM
    chrome still needs to let me open a new tab to any page i want instead of this most visited page and not display my passwords in my settings so that anyone with access to my pc can see them. or at least let me set a master password to those passwords.

    oh and more OS's is good. maybe then i won't have to pay $200 for an OS.
  • 5 Hide
    dravis12 , July 8, 2009 4:02 PM
    #1 difference:

    You don't pay for Google's software. (yet)

    People like free stuff.
  • Display all 65 comments.
  • -2 Hide
    batkerson , July 8, 2009 4:02 PM
    Any serious competition with Micro$oft should be better for the consumer. The real difficulty, as I see it, is drivers and compatibility of existing software -- will my old copy of CloneCD still run?
    P.S. -- I'm still upset that he Justice Dept. didn't "break up" Micro$oft into two companies: operating system and apps. I think that would have been best for everyone, including Micro$oft.
  • 2 Hide
    XD_dued , July 8, 2009 4:09 PM
    I'm cheap so i use all freeware except for OS. If it weren't for program compatibility, i'd definitely use linux. I guess now its kinda good for developers because they only have to build for one platform, but i think microsoft needs some more competition. (macs are meh, but at least they provide competition).
  • 8 Hide
    Anonymous , July 8, 2009 4:15 PM
    Here is the difference: right now, Google's proposed OS is not installed in >90% of computers. If/when that happens, Google will be hated just as much because (choose your reason): they will start charging for their OS or put a bunch of ads in it, things will go wrong in the OS and people will complain, their success will make them seem like 'the man', etc.

    People like Google right now because their stuff is largely free, but if/when their productivity/OS software becomes the mainstream stuff of choice, they will start charging because they can....just as any business should.
  • 0 Hide
    matchboxmatt , July 8, 2009 4:17 PM
    I think the big difference between the perception of Google and Microsoft is that Google has always had one, solid image that's been familiar ever since it walked out the door. Just like how anything Apple is recognized as Apple; because its familiar and it's been largely consistent for the past several years.

    The problem with Microsoft is that it's constantly changing. Just as the image built around XP looks completely different than Vista, and that from Windows 7, Microsoft seems to file through something different every year: MSN, Windows Search, Windows Live, Windows Live Search, Bing; the thready shiny blue and green look of Vista that carried over to the web versus the solid minimalistic look Windows 7 is aiming for. I just hope that they stick with something and stop having an identity crisis.

    As for the actual Chrome OS deal, the more the merrier.
  • 0 Hide
    doomtomb , July 8, 2009 4:18 PM
    I knew this sort of parallel between Microsoft and Google was coming but besides the price. Another difference is that Google rolls out a new service just about every week. If you count up the number of products Google has and compare it to Microsoft, I think you'll see that Google is trying to be everywhere at once. Microsoft has what? Office, Internet Explorer, Windows, and Bing. Google has way too many to list.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , July 8, 2009 4:23 PM
    I agree with what the brother in the article has to say, but not only is it that most Google products are free, they also work extremely well and are simple to use.

    It's hard to say how well this OS will work with the collage of hardware inside of PC's, but I'm sure Google will make this product work and work really well.

    Microsoft has never been pushed to make a solid product since they control the majority of the market. Pretty soon this will not be a factor.
  • 0 Hide
    Judguh , July 8, 2009 4:24 PM
    I agree with the whole compatibility aspect. If I were to install the free OS on my computer, what would I have to do in order to get my machine working 100%? I know Google provides good stuff, but I hope they aren't biting off more than they can chew...
  • 0 Hide
    Hanin33 , July 8, 2009 4:27 PM
    think it's a good thing, more competition the better. i do believe there's a slight difference in how Google does things as compared to microsoft. microsoft openly tried to force you into their products whereas Google is simply offering them as an alternative. this may change later but as of now, this is the case. i do have issue with the one company for all mantra... as it's yet to be proven to be reliable in the long term. it's very difficult to be the best in a given arena but to have to cover many different ones at once makes the task monumental.
  • 11 Hide
    fulle , July 8, 2009 4:29 PM
    People are going to hate this analogy, but I see Microsoft as this...

    Microsoft is that old guy in your office, who's been around forever. He's not the best, mind you, not even close, but he keeps anyone from entering his niche areas through ruthless office politics. Nobody likes this guy, he's out of new ideas, and barely gets the job done... but, we keep him because there is no other alternative, since nobody can replace him without someone, magically, figuring out all the very specific niche things he knows.

    Like the old bastard, Microsoft has its claws sinked in and isn't going anywhere. We can loath them, love them, its really irrelevant, and thats what bothers me. They have such a monopoly on the OS and Office software markets, that competition with them isn't really competing, its more like fighting over kitchen scraps.

    Google... well, Google feels different. They're getting huge, but they're not a Microsoft yet, and at least they have some new ideas left. They dominate the internet add space, in a near monolithic fashion, but slight competition from Yahoo and Microsoft keeps this from making me lose sleep. But, Google's definitely worrying me with their data mining practices, which are even worse than Microsoft's.

    Both companies, to me at least, are a testimate to how damaging the US patent system is, and excellent examples on how a company can leverage patents to become a monopoly power in different markets.

    So... my TLDR version: Fuck them both, but I hate Microsoft more.
  • 1 Hide
    fulle , July 8, 2009 4:32 PM
    "monolithic" should be "monopolistic", obviously. Where's my Edit button?
  • 0 Hide
    jacobdrj , July 8, 2009 4:36 PM
    2 differences: You don't pay for Google stuff (for the most part), and there is a sense that Google listens to the desires and needs of their customers. MSFT has been improving on that aspect lately, but they are still much more distant from their core customer base than Google.
  • 1 Hide
    seezur , July 8, 2009 4:50 PM
    Google seems to be more connected with their costomers than M.S. Google knows what their customers want/need out of them. They know what is expected of them. Unfortunatly M.S. has been disconnected from their customers for some time now.

    The people at M.S. that make the decisions are older guys trying to figure out what features they can throw in to thier "new" product so they can justify to their customers the price they are going to pay.

    Google on the other hand simply want to develop the products that THEY want, then they give that product to whoever wants it. Do you think google got a suggestion from a customer to develop google earth?? No, probably not. They wanted to make it, so they did, then they gave it away.

    M.S. seems to be trying to get a little more progressive recently but I just don't know how much that is going to change. After all, they are one of oldest players in the game and Google is the #1 draft pick right out of college. New is better to most people.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , July 8, 2009 4:59 PM
    it seems that most people are ok with Google mainly because of money. How could free be bad? They don't seem to care that their practices might be just as bad as what people say about MS.

    Personally I think both companies put out solid products (that's right, even MS has quality products, its just fashionable to insult them). However solid products aside, they are both getting way too big and make me think of the old Sci Fi novels where companies control the world.
  • 2 Hide
    SAL-e , July 8, 2009 5:06 PM
    JudguhI agree with the whole compatibility aspect. If I were to install the free OS on my computer, what would I have to do in order to get my machine working 100%? I know Google provides good stuff, but I hope they aren't biting off more than they can chew...

    Thank you for summarizing the current problems with the way we approaching the OS.
    Every time different OS is discussed we are talking about compatibility, but nobody bothers to define what is. For example Judguh is understanding compatibility as running programs design to run only in Windows, but I would define the compatibility to run any program on platform of my choice. Here is the result of this difference. Windows can run only programs that are design for Windows. Linux can run native Linux programs and using library like Wine can run many Windows programs. So based on that in my book Linux is more compatible then Windows.
    If we can switch our point of view for a minute we can see what Google is trying. They are going to build OS that contain two main components: One is the Linux kernel and second is the web browser that will run any app that complies with Internet standards. What will happen is that standard compliant apps will run on Chrome OS and other OSes that support the standards. This will make the app development much easier and faster. You don’t need to install any apps on your PC, you don’t need to resolve any conflicts between the apps. The app developers will handle this for you. The OS will go back to its roots and primary function to run your hardware. Here Google is tapping into the great work from FOSS communities and Linux kernel it self. I don’t think Google is trying to take over our lives, just to oppose MS direction to control everything in the OS. They are attacking MS’s monopoly and this is only good for us. MS is going to re-invent them self if they want to stay primary player in the future.
  • 2 Hide
    pocketdrummer , July 8, 2009 5:14 PM
    I think your buddy might be right. The ONLY issue I really have with Google is their gathering of personal information. What exactly would that look like on an OS? Will they monitor EVERYTHING!? It's kind of like having a little man sitting on your shoulder watching your every move, then selling it's findings to the highest bidder.

    If their privacy policy changed and became more restricted, I'd jump for joy.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , July 8, 2009 5:14 PM
    Personally, i think google cares for its users, where microsoft cares for the users money. google is going through a very liberal-monopoly, look at their services, everything is pre-thought from a uni perspective angle, they just study the human needs on technology, im not saying that google is not really interested in profit, just give the company (global corporation) a look, they own a lot of money and still receive a lot of respect, there must be something good on it, it is PROFIT they're interested on, but on a very balanced way.
    Compared to microsoft, one word, MONEY, they only go where they smell money, they invest where the money is already active.
  • 5 Hide
    ensigndaniel , July 8, 2009 5:18 PM
    directx
  • 4 Hide
    stradric , July 8, 2009 5:19 PM
    doomtombMicrosoft has what? Office, Internet Explorer, Windows, and Bing. Google has way too many to list.


    Try again. Microsoft has programming languages. They have tons of APIs (DirectX, MFC, Win32, etc). They have a shit ton of software from Visual Studio to Office to Visio etc. They have a shit ton of server software from SQL Server to Sharepoint to Windows server. Microsoft also has a games division (hello? xbox).

    So, you REAAALLY boiled Microsoft down to nothing when clearly they have way more serious apps than Google.

    The major difference I see is that Google is big into open source while Microsoft is hugely proprietary.
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