Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer spoke about Google Chrome OS during the Worldwide Partner Conference in New Orleans, dismissing Google's "netbook"-centric operating system as unable to fully accomplish users' needs. At the same time, Ballmer held up Bing, Microsoft's new search engine, as an example of the company's tenacity as it continues to battle Google and other rivals for online-application market share.
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 July 14 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, is "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
"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 mininotebooks (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."
Hybridization 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, will be free until
Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference in November. Designed to compete
directly against similar offerings from both Amazon.com 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 June 27, 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
Despite its relatively low market share, Bing
has 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 $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."
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.