10 Things Microsoft Can Do to Beat Chrome OS

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2009-11-25

10 Things Microsoft Can Do to Beat Chrome OS

Now that Google has shown its Chrome OS hand, it has made it abundantly clear what it plans to do with its online operating system over the next year. For many, those plans are exciting. Chrome OS promises to offer some of the most unique services of any operating system on the market. It could also rival existing leaders from Microsoft and Apple, as well as Linux OSes.

But there is a chance that Chrome OS could lose its ability to capture significant market share at the hands of Microsoft. The software giant that currently controls the operating system market can't possibly be expected to roll over and allow Google to be the only company offering an online OS. It also can't be expected to allow Google, its main nemesis online, to capture any of its market share. Realizing that, Microsoft is likely to have a plan to beat Chrome OS. Let's take a look at what Microsoft can do to beat Google's operating system.

1. Keep working on Windows 7

Windows 7 is a fine operating system that many folks are quite happy with. But it's the single OS that Google is targeting with Chrome OS. Microsoft needs to work hard to improve Windows 7 as Google prepares its online OS. It also needs to ensure that it attracts as many customers as possible. The happier the customers, the less likely they will be to move to Chrome OS.

2. Embrace the Web

At the same time, Microsoft should embrace the fact that future is on the Internet. Although Office is a promising next step for Microsoft online, it needs to work hard on Windows Azure. By doing so, it can cut Google off as it attempts to be the only company in the space doing something unique online. It will also divide the market into those who want Google's OS and those who want Microsoft's.

3. Point out Chrome OS shortcomings

There's nothing quite like explaining the shortcomings of a particular operating system to illustrate why your own operating system is ideal. The strategy works. Just look at Apple's "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" ads for proof of that. If Microsoft wants to limit the impact Chrome OS will have on the market while working toward an eventual defeat of the online OS, it needs to start with some advertising.

4. Stay true to the enterprise

One of Chrome OS' major shortcomings is its lack of enterprise support. Say what you will about Windows, but the OS is perfect for the corporate world. If Microsoft wants to get in on the online-OS market, it needs to stay true to companies that don't want to be left behind. Google is leaving those companies behind. Microsoft can't.

Fighting Chrome on Multiple Fronts

5. Enhance Windows 7 Starter Edition

Chrome OS isn't necessarily a threat to any Windows 7 edition other than Starter. Realizing that, Microsoft should spend the next year improving Starter Edition to better compete against Chrome OS when it's released. Yes, that means adding back some of the (many) features users won't find in Microsoft's simplest operating system version.

6. Play even nicer with developers

One of the big factors that has yet to fully play out regarding Chrome OS is how software will be integrated into the operating system. For now, it features several Web apps that users can access, but what about more capable software that is slowly making its way online? If Microsoft really wants to beat Chrome OS, it needs to provide the platform that has what software users want. That can only happen through strong relationships with third-party developers. Microsoft needs to get to work on that immediately.

7. Work on multiple online properties

Another key component in Microsoft's strategy to beat Chrome OS must be the improvement of its other online properties. Bing is a great search engine with several neat features. Bing Maps is arguably better than Google Maps. Microsoft needs to continue improving its online services to attract more users from Google. That could help limit Chrome OS' impact online.

8. Use some cash

If Microsoft has anything, it has money-and lots of it. The company should use some of that financial muscle to develop an operating system superior to anything Google plans to do with Chrome OS. It could also use that cash to acquire some companies that would help in that endeavor.

9. Improve security

One of the main topics Google will touch on with Chrome OS is its security. Undoubtedly, the company will talk about why Chrome OS is more secure than Windows. Realizing that, Microsoft needs to work diligently to improve the security of its platform over the next year. If it can, Google won't be able to depend on making use of the security issue that has consistently haunted the software giant.

10. Prepare for the future with Windows 8

Finally, Microsoft needs to prepare for the future with Windows 8. Windows 7 might have only hit store shelves in October, but Chrome OS looks toward the future. Microsoft needs to plan for the future of computing that will be increasingly built on cloud computing and ensure that Windows 8 is closely aligned with this trend. At the same time, it needs to remember the customers, particularly in enterprises, who want to stick with conventional computing. If it does so, Microsoft will have the market covered. And that will only spell trouble for Google.

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