Reprogramming Microsoft and the GoogleNet PC

Reprogramming Microsoft and the GoogleNet PC

Summary: Steve Lohr's New York Times article "Can this man reprogram Microsoft" doesn't offer much that hasn't already been endlessly reported about Ray Ozzie's background and mission to bring the services economy to Microsoft.

TOPICS: Google

rayozzielong.jpgSteve Lohr's New York Times article "Can this man reprogram Microsoft" doesn't offer much that hasn't already been endlessly reported about Ray Ozzie's background and mission to bring the services economy to Microsoft. He does bring up Google's discussions with thin-client system maker Wyse Technology:

"The discussions are focused on a $200 Google-branded machine that would likely be marketed in cooperation with telecommunications companies in markets like China and India, where home PC's are less common, said John Kish, chief executive of Wyse. 'Google is on a path to developing a stack of software in competition with the Microsoft desktop, and one that is much more network-centric, more an Internet service,'  Mr. Kish said. 'And this fits right into that.' "

Sun has been trying push its vision of thin client networked computers for years. Oracle's Larry Ellison promised of a $199 networked computer in 1999 and by 2003 exited from business. Several companies tried their hand at Web surfing and email thin clients in the late 1990s, but failed. Wyse practically invented the Windows thin client business, along with Citrix in the 1990s, and now has Linux clients, but it's a corporate sell. There's also MIT's $100 Linux-based, Wi-Fi enabled laptop. 

Certainly, times have changed, and in the rapidly growing world of broadband Internet a computer designed to consume those services is much more tenable than in the previous decade. David Berlind speculates on a Google PC, and Dana Gardner thinks that Oracle should resurrect its networked computer concept.  The question Lohr alludes to in bringing up a Google/Wyse connection (why not Google's pal Sun? or Cisco?) is whether a Google software stack could significantly erode Microsoft desktop dominance. So far desktop Linux hasn't gained much traction versus Windows or the Mac.

Google's brand seems to be magic these days, and there's plenty of robust open source software andgooglepc.jpg Google's own secret sauce and infrastructure prowess to come up with a consumer Internet computing appliance. Intel Inside or AMD Inside could be joined by Google Inside as an alternative to Microsoft, Mac and the branded Linux distributions. The 'GoogleNet' stack would include a consumer appliance version of Google's Linux, maybe a Google browser, lots of drivers, some hosted productivity apps along with the other Google services, but users could replace those services and applications with whatever they chose. Google would makes its money selling ads on its components and possibly charging subscriptions fees for net access and intrastructure support, and be able to extend its brand.  Of course, Google would have to find partners as Lohr suggests to serve the world with a hardware device and telcommunication services, unless the company decides to make 'GoogleNet' global.

If Google were to get behind a consumer Internet-centric appliance, Microsoft and Yahoo would not be far behind. The new model for developing, distributing, consuming and paying for software has far fewer barriers to entry than previous generations. This time around any one company garnering a 90 percent market share is a very unlikely end result.  

Topic: Google

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  • Not much chance of success here

    Ray Ozzie is a brilliant guy, but he is going to be severely constrained by Microsoft's desire to protect its existing revenue. There have always been people at Microsoft smart enough to see where IT was going, but seeing it is not enough.
  • A GooglePC Bootup

    Wow. A PC type appliance under $200! Just what I need. I can see it now - by turning on the power button there would be instant on, and connection to Google. Of course, I would have to go get some coffee while all the ads ran - oops, there is a new one that requires me to click a button, okay so I gotta stay at the box now until the boot finishes.....

    Okay, ads are done, and I want to send some email. Hmmm. Okay, there is the button for Gmail - okay, clicked, got some more ads (kinda like the one from USPS urging me to buy more stamps - cute.....) okay, got Gmail up and running....."Dear Mom" (click Cancel for the offer to send me to some online florist site), "Can't wait to see you, we booked our flights last night" (more windows opened up, offering me deals on hotels, luggage, meals and car rentals)....

    Oh yeah, can't wait for that cheap advertising supported network appliance.
    • 10! (nt)

  • Google? With a stack? Hah, that's a good one.

    Google cannot even get webmail right (how long did it take them to add virus scanning?), their "pplications" sit in endless beta, half of them fade away or never work right in the first place (Orkut, Picassa, Talk, etc.). What makes anyone think that Google is capable of creating an entire application stack? If they have one, it would have to be someone else's, kludged together with a bunch of programmatic Silly String and wishful thinking. I'll beleive that Google can make a "stack" when Google News, Groups, Images, and Froogle come out of beta, despite being main items on their website for YEARS.

    Justin James
    • Absoulutely!

      I've been using Gmail for a couple of weeks now and I got to say that its usability and appearance are God awful. I keep waiting to discover what all the oohs and ahs are about, but so far, I'm just not getting it.
  • Ray has already made a difference

    Ray Ozzie has already made a big impact. In October he wrote a manifesto The Internet Services Disruption which laid out the vision for "Software as a Service" and the basis for Windows Live and Office Live. Last month Ray announced SSE, Simple Sharing Extensions for RSS, which will be offered under the Creative Commons license.

    Ray is a big thinker, a true visionary, and a good business strategist. He has made a big impact already, and his leadership is just starting to emerge. Microsoft is a big company (60,000 employees, $40B in revenue) but can move quickly when necessary. Windows Live and Office Live will allow Microsoft to quickly offer new services, add-INS, and extensions to Windows and Office without needing to wait for the next major release cycle. Because of the size, complexity, and user base of these products the development and test cycles are several years. That is just too long in a fast changing web services world. Live lets Microsoft respond quickly.

    The magic here is as much business strategy as it is technical vision. The trick will be to find the balance between web based services and client based application software, and take advantage of the strengths of each model, from both a technical and business perspective.

    I wrote a blog on this subject this morning. For more detail see