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Google Takes on Microsoft Windows

History Will Probably be Kind to Redmond, But Why Should I?

Who knows if Google can transform its strengths in handling megatraffic into the ability to develop a mega-OS?

Google today is primarily an IT company. Yes, it is quite annoying that this public company won't publicly discuss where it keeps its servers, let alone give a hint to the secret sauce that powers them.

The fact remains that the company has achieved astonishing technical competence in developing and managing a hive intelligence that will be the subject of historical analysis centuries from now.

The question is whether it can turn its expertise outward and deliver an application (eg, OS) strong enough to knock Redmond off of its perch.

Few tears will be shed (outside of Microsoft, that is) should this occur. Older-generation folks such as myself have simply spent too many years putting up with buggy versions of DOS, then Windows, then being subjected to the innumerable and large problems that the virus-magnet Internet Explorer has caused.

Microsoft has been almost willfully careless over the decades with its arrogantly casual treatment of the problems its OS and browser have caused, in my opinion.

Its strikingly hubristic, monopolistic practices were oh-so-close to being consigned to the dustbin of history, before judge Thomas Penfield Jackson indiscretely bragged about what a badass he was in adjudicating Microsoft, thereby calling into question his judgement and neutering his verdict.

Comparing Microsoft execs to "stubborn mules," Jackson demonstrated that even a very smart person can be a real dumbass.

A younger generation doesn't seem to have this emnity toward Redmond. With their first experience being a well-oiled Windows XP, and with many of them enamored by the XBox, the Vista fiasco seems to be the aberration rather than the norm to them.

Yes, they've encountered the XBox's red ring of death (the child of the blue screen of death), but simply trade their units in when this happens. Microsoft, to them, is a good consumer electronics company, and Bill Gates is just another old rich guy.

So, maybe any rant I have against Microsoft reveals a mentality that's been passed by, sort of like those old guys of my youth who used to piss and moan about FDR.

The historical record does reveal Roosevelt's arrogance--trying to pack the Supreme Court, running for endless terms as President, initiating an age of massive government intervention while overstating its results and taking too much credit himself, serving until he was so enfeebled that he did the world untold damage by his weak Yalta performance.

His still-new memorial in Washington DC betrays the grandiosity of the man, in stark contrast to the classic, powerful elegance of the other presidential memorials. Yet Roosevelt continues to be considered one of the country's great presidents, the guy on whose watch the government established a safety net for its citizens, The Great Depression ended, and World War II turned decisively into what would be total victory for the good guys.

The historical record is already treating Bill Gates et al in similar fashion. Bill is seen today as a great technological visionary, his company as the single most important in the history of computing, and his philanthropy as the modern-day equivalent to Andrew Carnegie.

Yet the company made its wealth in a fashion I consider to be nefarious. It had no concept of homegrown innovation or of treating its customers (whether vendors like Compaq and Dell or users like you and me) with any sort of consideration or respect.

So if a day of reckoning does come for Redmond, I would expect to see very little sentimentality over its fate. Reminds me of when airlines started to fail. After decades of providing uniformly hidebound, crappy service, no one cried when we lost such previous American icons as Eastern Airlines, PanAm, and TWA. No one would have cried if the same had happened to United.

General Motors is experiencing the same situation today. Had the company decided, let's say in the 1970s, to manufacture well-built cars and tried to address what has proven to be a chronic cycle of oil shocks, then maybe there would've been some customer loyalty that would've kept the company from its recent embarrassments and failure.

On a smaller scale, the Comdex trade show perished a few years ago, after many years of abusing its exhibitors and attendees. Many people mourned the passing of their annual November bacchanal in Las Vegas; no one mourned the passing of the Comdex brand itself.

As I said, there is an entire generation of people who do not share my views and history will continue to be kind to Microsoft, I think.

So I should rant no more. But deep down inside, I think it would be cool to see Google just kick Microsoft's butt right out to the curb.

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.