You’ve read them everywhere by now. It’s even trickled down to your free on the street weekly newspapers. Google has released a new browser called Chrome, and that new browser is a direct shot at long time rival Microsoft. True, and true again. But missing the point entirely. While the newspapers slug it out with blogger comments and re-hashed press releases, let’s get to the real deal.
Google’s Chrome browser is fast. How fast? I run Firefox all day long. Between research, email, publishing, web design, updating my blogs, reading the news, doing fun stuff, and just plain getting the information I need to run my day, I pretty much keep Firefox open 24/7. And not just open, LOADED. Tabs that fill all three rows (some tab extension gives me that) and then run off into the cosmos until I can close some. That’s just in one window. I usually run three or four. Needless to say, I hit a ton of web sites, some repeatedly, so I have a pretty good feel for what is going on for many of them.
Chrome is so fast that I sometimes find myself moving the mouse to re-click because I wonder why it hasn’t loaded the next page yet only to realize that the page already loaded. In fact, it loaded so fast I didn’t notice it reload.
Pages that normally I have to delay hitting the Page Down button on my mouse in order to let all the graphics and junk load first in order to get to the link I need near the bottom of the page, load so fast, that I don’t have to hesitate. I can’t click fast enough.
The one exception so far? Rapidshare. Terrible. Is it being blocked by Rapidshare? I mean, abysmal, I don’t get it.
Anyway, while everyone is touting the new speed and cool tab features, here’s what you should be noticing if you care about the Microsoft v. Google battle.
For those of you who have been around computers at a high enough level for a while, you remember the original Java concept. For those of you who don’t, let me re-cap. Java was developed and released by Sun Microsystems as a way, ironically, to loosen the grip of Microsoft on the computing world. The theory was that by using a virtual machine installed on any system, anywhere, running any OS, you could run Java applications on any computer whether Mac, PC, Unix, whatever. The catch was that in order to run Java, you needed to have a Java Virtual Machine, or VM. Well, Sun wrote them. But, Microsoft didn’t use Sun’s. They wrote their own. It was lousy. It was worse than lousy. It was slow, buggy, incompatible, and had new Windows only features in it. And, that killed Java. Because 99% of computer users that used Windows did so with only what Microsoft put on there by default, and the Java engine that Microsoft put on there was unusable, so the promise of being able to write your program only once and then run it everywhere died because you couldn’t run it on Windows.
Tab to Shortcut Feature
But, if you can get them to try Google Chrome, and to use it a little bit, eventually they may follow the example and break out their Gmail account as a tab, and then save it as a shortcut. This does two things for Google. One, it cuts out the IE part of the process all together. Now, you will hear them say, "Click on the email," when they mean the shortcut to Gmail. So, now Microsoft is on the outside looking in, instead of the other way around.
The second thing it does is even more strategically valuable. No matter how much publicity Chrome generates, there will be millions of Internet users who never even consider downloading it. So, Google cannot reach them. But, a different group of people WILL download Chrome. If these users end up using the Tab to Shortcut feature and liking it, they will grumble until it gets added to other browsers as well. Again, as open source software, it isn’t hard to copy the functionality. When that happens, even Internet Explorer will have the feature one day. And, when that day comes, all of those un-savvy users will end up being able to create a tab based shortcut to their Google search, Gmail, or whatever else without ever having to download a single piece of software from Google. When that happens, Google wins anyway, because once again, they have taken out that first step of launching the browser. No longer will people click IE and get a home page- they will click their "email" and get Gmail. When that happens, Microsoft’s power decreases over the Internet substantially.
While Google probably does have good intentions for its browser, it is being the most honest when it says that if the Internet overall improves, they stand to benefit. The current Microsoft versus Google battle is a tug-of-war between getting users off of the desktop and into "the cloud" where Google has the advantage, and keeping them tethered to the desktop where Microsoft has the advantage.
So, it is really immaterial whether or not Chrome succeeds as long as its features are adopted by whatever survives. The long-term dream for Google has to be a computer sold in mass quantities by the likes of Best Buy and Dell that doesn’t even have Windows installed on it, just some basic operating shell that gets the user onto the Internet where all of their applications and data are waiting. When that happens, Google wins. That is if things stay as they are now. Microsoft is keenly aware of this possibility and has moved aggressively into the "cloud computing" space as well. If they are successful, they can continue to dominate regardless of how the Chrome piece of the battle plays out. But, at least then, the two titans start on an even playing field.
Additional Articles on Google Chrome
This post is part of the series: The Ongoing War between Microsoft and Google
- Microsoft versus Google – The Battle Lines Are Ever Expanding
- Google versus Microsoft – Google’s Strategic Battle Plan – Part 1
- Microsoft Versus Google – Microsoft’s Strategic Battle Plan
- Google versus Microsoft – Google’s Strategic Battle Plan – Part 2
- Microsoft Versus Google – The Battle Lines Are SO Expanding
- Microsoft Versus Google – Microsoft Battle Plan – Part 2