Microsoft Must Innovate to Keep Up

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-12-08 Print this article Print


5. Chrome will drive more users to the cloud 

Although all of the talk in the Web community right now is about cloud computing, it hasn't necessarily caught on as heavily among the mainstream as some cloud advocates say. But with Google's help, widespread adoption of cloud computing could become a reality. That could be troublesome for Microsoft, which, at least for now, is most heavily invested in the cloud with Azure. 

6. Consumers are warming to data plans 

Since Chrome OS is all about the Internet, having data plans through wireless carriers will become a key part of the average consumer's life after adopting the new platform. At first glance, that might seem like a problem. But considering mainstream devices, including Apple's iPad, deliver 3G connectivity built-in, consumers are quickly realizing that paying some extra cash every month to access the Internet through a wireless provider is par for the course nowadays. In other words, that won't be as big of an issue as some think. 

7. Microsoft could find the enterprise space is constricting

At least in the beginning, Chrome OS will likely be designed with consumers in mind. After all, it will be a lightweight operating system that won't have access to many of the applications that companies rely upon today. But if it's successful, it's possible that Google would push Microsoft entirely to the enterprise, keeping that market far more important to the software giant than the fast-growing consumer space. That should help keep Microsoft afloat, but it wouldn't help its bottom line. If consumer demand changes because of Chrome OS, Microsoft will need to deliver something that can compete-or else.

 8. The Web is the future 

Although some might disagree, it seems more apparent now than ever that the future of the technology industry will be firmly planted on the Internet. Companies will be relying upon it more and more, and consumers will be turning to it more than they already do to serve most aspects of their lives. As that happens, Google's Chrome OS platform will be positioned perfectly to capitalize. Meanwhile, Microsoft could be left with a shrinking market for legacy desktop applications. 

9. Head starts matter 

As mentioned, Google is enjoying a sizable head start as a Web-based operating system. For its part, Microsoft seems to be sticking with the Windows desktop paradigm even as Windows applications spend more time linked to the Internet assuming that it will remain its cash cow for the foreseeable future. But how much longer can that continue before Microsoft responds with the launch of a platform that competes more directly with Chrome OS? Head starts help in the OS space, and Microsoft shouldn't forget that.

 10. The innovation consideration 

Perhaps Microsoft's concerns about Chrome OS should extend beyond simple business factors. Maybe Microsoft should be worried that it's not innovating as quickly as it should. Google delivers better search, it has the superior mobile platform, and now it's trying to do something new in the OS market. Microsoft is doing many of the same things it has been doing for years. It looks big and slow. Google has shown that companies have to continue to innovate or they become sluggish behemoths that are in danger of being overtaken by more nimble competitors. 

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at

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