A Microsoft cheat sheet for Google I/O

A Microsoft cheat sheet for Google I/O

Summary: Microsoft, never one to shy away from blog posts touting how it is besting Google, has been quiet about the announcements Googlehas been making at the Google I/O developer conference this week. To fill the void, I thought I'd try my hand at a compare/contrast between the two rivals.


Microsoft, never one to shy away from blog posts touting how it is besting Google, has been quiet about the announcements Googlehas been making at the Google I/O developer conference this week. To fill the void, I thought I'd try my hand at a compare/contrast between the two rivals.

I'm not going to put a pro-Microsoft spin on my attempt. (I'll leave that to Microsoft's marketers, who are probably still recovering from yesterday's Skype news fest.) But here is the Microsoft-compete angle to some of the Google news I've been tracking so far.

Let's start out with the biggest news of the Google developer show so far: Angry Birds coming to Chrome. (Just kidding. Sort of...)

Angry Birds comes to Chrome: Microsoft has announced Angry Birds is coming to Windows Phone 7 on May 25 (The game is already on most of the other major smartphone platforms.) But Google is upping the Bird love, announcing Angry Birds is coming to the Web (meaning Chrome). Google also announced it will be offering developers a 95 percent cut on Chrome Web Store apps. Microsoft is currently offering developers a 70 percent revenue split on Windows Phone Marketplace apps. We don't know yet what percentage Microsoft will offer to Windows 8 app developers when it launches its Win 8 app store, most likely in 2012.

Google App Engine 1.5: GAE is Google's platform-as-a-service (PaaS) cloud offering, most comparable to Microsoft's Windows Azure. Unveiled in 2008, GAE is currently still in preview, but Google is saying it will go into production mode some time later this year. (Azure went live in February 2010.) Google also said this week that 100,000 developers are using GAE every month, and that 200,000 apps are running on the platform. Microsoft said earlier this year that it has 31,000 Azure customers. The 1.5 GAE release adds support for Google's Go programming language, and a 99.95% uptime SLA (once GAE comes out of preview). Microsoft offers a variety of different SLA rates for different components of Azure, which seem to run between 99.5% and 99.9%.

Chromebooks available in June, with subscription pricing for students and business users. Microsoft has been pushing the subscription-pricing envelope with Office 2010 -- by making a software version of Office  Professional Plus available for a per-month fee (which varies depending on the bundle) as part of its coming Office 365 bundle. But Google is taking subscription pricing a step further, by offering Chromeooks (the actual machines) available to students and business users for a per-month fee. Chromebooks will be available starting June 15 via Amazon and Best Buy. Samsung's device is $429 and up; Acer's is $349 and up. (And jailbreaking is allowed.) Chromebooks are laptops that don't let users access the underlying operating system, but which offer fast bootup and all-day battery life. They are designed to use Web apps only via the Chrome browser and Chrome Web store. I guess the closest Microsoft equivalent to this are Windows Thin PCs? I didn't much care for my prototype Chromebook and wondered why users who like the idea behind it wouldn't just buy a netbook.

Chromebox: Google didn't provide many specifics about the headless Chromebook, a k a the Chromebox, during the May 11 Chrome keynote at I/O. "Chromebox, a small, low-power desktop device intended for the business world. Like the Chromebooks, it runs Chrome OS, but comes with a bunch of utilities for system administrators," said Gizmodo. Engadget said the Chromebox will be more like a nettop. Samsung is said to be the OEM. No due dates or other info was shared. I'm thinking the closest Microsoft equivalent is Windows Home Server (maybe?). Other thoughts?

Chrome OS: Chrome OS, the non-operating-system OS that powers Chromebooks, now can do a lot of the things it couldn't late last year. You can print! You can plug in cameras and USB sticks/devices! There's a music/video player! It sounds like.... Windows, MacOS and Linux. Huzzah! On a more serious note, it sounds like Google is finally going to provide offline access for Google Docs, Mail and Calendar (by the time the Chromebooks are shipping in June, it sounds like). Google officials said last year offline access would be coming via HTML5, but that most users didn't really need it. (Really??) As I've blogged before, I'm curious what Microsoft might do regarding offline access for Hotmail whenever the next Windows Live release hits.

Android@Home: Android in your living room and your light bulbs. Google is getting into the home-automation market with a strategy to put Android in all kinds of devices, including home appliances, with its Android@Home initiative. Microsoft's been down this road a couple of times. Anyone remember .Net coffee makers? Microsoft decided the .Net Micro Framework stuff wasn't monetizable and turned it over to the community in 2009. But the Softies haven't totally given up on home automation. Microsoft Research is working on a number of projects in this space, including the HomeOS and related app store.

Ice Cream Sandwich: Ice Cream Sandwich is the next major version of Android, just like "Mango" is the next major version of the Windows Phone OS. There's a big difference in the Google and Microsoft mobile strategies, however: Google's goal with Ice Cream Sandwich, which is now not due until Q4 2011, is to make it the universal operating system for smartphones and tablets. Microsoft is taking a different approach and is continuing to push Windows as its tablet operating system, and Windows Phone OS (which is built around the Windows Embedded Compact kernel) as its phone operating system. Microsoft's next-generation tablet OS is going to be Windows 8, and isn't expected until late 2012. What we still don't know right now is whether Microsoft will enable Windows Phone apps to work (relatively seamlessly) on Windows 8 tablets. Some believe that the Microsoft Jupiter development project will enable this.

Music Beta by Google: Google's long-anticipated music service is just a beta and doesn't have the blessing of big music labels or publishers. It's also a U.S.-only thing (for now). I'm admittedly a big booster of Zune/ZunePass -- my music service, and one for which I've shelled out $15 per month for more than a year. From what I've read since yesterday about Google's entry here -- including this Venturebeat post entitled "Google music beta first look: It's miserable," I'm wondering if it may go the way of Google Wave....

What else have you heard/seen from Google's I/O this week that I should add to this list?

Topics: Microsoft, Browser, Google


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • RE: A Microsoft cheat sheet for Google I/O

    It seems google is like the "Blade" of the corporate world, if microsoft is like a vampire google is like a daywalker all the same strengths none of the weaknesses. could be because they are opposite in their approach microsoft makes money selling bits, google make money giving bits away and pointing you to others bits.
    • Nice, but I see MS as the daywalker

      and Google as the vampires, as MS's model does not depend on whether there are clouds out or not to be able to step outside, where as Goolge is does matter: If there are clouds present, they can work, yet on a cloudless day they just hangout in the dark doing nothing.
      John Zern
      • RE: A Microsoft cheat sheet for Google I/O

        @John Zern hahhaa... True.
        Scrape the surface and you'll find Google isn't really interested in trying to help you get better at things... they are interested in getting you somewhere just cheaper.

        Their UI sucks.
    • RE: A Microsoft cheat sheet for Google I/O

      Are naive people like you still on this planet? Haven't ever heard that there is nothing like a free lunch? Google feeding you for free? Year right.
    • Chromebook is not for consumers

      @CyberPunkNews Chromebook is for companies and education, not for consumers. A minimum of 10 Chromebooks is required to rent it (not a problem for institutions). The point is reducing hardware, software and maintenance costs that otherwise would be expended in full-blown PCs that don't need to be full-blown PCs.

      Many companies and education areas would be well served with a simpler machine that has software upgrades and hardware support covered in a $20/$28 month plan. Less IT infra-structure needed, less software and hardware to support, less software licenses to pay for etc.
    • RE: A Microsoft cheat sheet for Google I/O

      Google is a vampire. Microsoft creates its own software. Google uses GPL'd opensource, modifies it and then use it without sharing their modifications except when is strategically good to do so.

      Corporations only purpose is to gain as much money as it's legally possible. And if the directive does not seek to do this, the shareholders will soon make sure that they do not continue to be the directive.

      This is how things work. The "Do no evil" is just a cachphrase to make naive people believe that Google cares about them. They are an advertisement company that only cares about the bottom line.
  • RE: A Microsoft cheat sheet for Google I/O

    Watching Google I/O was like a trip back to the late 90s. Hooray for crappy 3D graphics and Network Computers!<br><br>I'm sure that printing isn't too important to businesses or students, but just in case we've made it so you might be able to print something!<br><br>A video of the dancing baby playing in the new fangled thingy they called a "media player" would have been the icing on the cake.<br><br>You get all of this for roughly the same price as a comparable laptop running Windows 7 and Office Starter. But don't worry, they've crippled it so it will only work properly when connected.<br><br>Count me as completely unimpressed.
    Rich Miles
    • RE: A Microsoft cheat sheet for Google I/O

      @Rich Miles,

      MS should be focused on making users pay for its consumer services, from differentiated user experiences, in the form of modern apps. Why should any company care about having the most users, or biggest services, when the company isn't making any money? The Skype acquisition, could be a powerful means to help differentiate MS Windows based apps from the web, and encourage people to pay for the former. Make Skype services be available in Windows apps, and make the difference in user experience, service, and features be stark, compared to what is available for free on the web. MS web sites and services through the web can continue as they are, but their main purpose should be to drive users to subscription supported Windows apps. I think MS could get away with charging $1 / week for low end subscription rates.

      I also think MS should explore coming out with special user experience PCs with its partners, that include MS software beyond the base OS. These software could cost over $100 (maybe several hundred), and offer user experiences which blow the customer away. The PCs could be built around chassis specifications - similar to smartphones. They could be seen as appliances. E.g. an entertainment PC appliance that has the most beautiful, touch interface, that goes significantly beyond what the stock PC does. Even Windows server appliances could be created with immersive user interfaces, that trivialize complex tasks, and use 3D visualization to explore, examine, and manipulate various aspects of a network like never before. These higher priced PC appliances could be distributed like set top boxes, where they can be used along with one or more services, and be paid for (along with the services) monthly. So the above could also serve as a way to get users to be introduced to, and sign up for certain cloud services.
      P. Douglas
      • RE: A Microsoft cheat sheet for Google I/O

        @P. Douglas

        I agree with this caveat; Microsoft just hasn't grasped the concept of the non-business user. (Business sales still account for 80% of all their sales.) I too believe Microsoft *could* do some amazing things. I know the coders could if they were unleashed but, well, it's just not the MS way. Don't take that wrong, the MS way has been very, VERY profitable, I'm just sayin...

        As to these "web devices" I believe they will be as short lived as were net books, and for the same reason, ever falling hardware costs. In a year or two we'll see full fledged PC's in the same form factor / weight for roughly the same money. All things being even close to equal, users will go for the more capable device.

        Net applications, I have the same issues as most users, where is my data and who has access to it? My "gut" says, any of hundreds of employes and the next hacker that gets through security and that is happening all too frequently with the big players. There is also the fact that in the US any law enforcement group can search anyone's on line information without a warrent or even telling you afterwards they did it. (Patriot Act)

        To be blunt, the security scene is going to have to get a lot better before on line data storage becomes acceptable for anything the least bit private.
  • Google Apps Engine 1.5 looks promising

    App Engine was a moribund application for so long. It was completely unreliable and throttled applications so badly it was barely useful. I hope that they address the reliability, scalability and performance issues it had. because Apps Engine was not a 1.0 release, more like a .95Alpha release.
    Your Non Advocate
  • RE: A Microsoft cheat sheet for Google I/O

    Again, I don't see that as a real threat... Now the latest Honeycomb is a threat to everyone!
  • RE: A Microsoft cheat sheet for Google I/O

    Hi Mary Jo!

    I've been getting twits about IO. However this column put it all together. Good craft! Thank you!
    • Glad

      Thanks. Glad you found it useful! MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
  • RE: A Microsoft cheat sheet for Google I/O

    I just don't get it, this is all a step backwards, I won't give up Windows 7 or my Macbook pro for this stuff, I know Google has to sell this as the next best thing since sliced bread, I'm just not biting.
    • RE: A Microsoft cheat sheet for Google I/O


      There is nothing to get. Chromebooks are almost identical to the Network Computer created by Oracle. They failed because they were underpowered and did not offer a dramatic cost savings over standard PCs.

      I am all for Google making the Chrome browser the best it can be on all platforms. It also needs to throw it's weight behind Google Docs and web standards to give people a place to go. People would not have to forced on the web. They would just go. And where would they go? Google.

      Instead, Microsoft Office not only offers the best native experience (on mulitple platforms) it is now better on Google's home turf, the web. Internet Explorer will focus on creating the best web experience on Windows while Google will be spread thin trying to make Chrome the best on every OS.

      The real question is, how many Chromebooks does Google have to sell before Microsoft can make IE and Bing the default on Windows boxes? Or would Google have to make IE an option on their OS as well?
      Rich Miles
      • RE: A Microsoft cheat sheet for Google I/O

        @Rich Miles

        While trying to take over the world (ala Microsoft), Google could have owned the skies above if it had stayed focused on the web and away from OS and hardware. Google used to be the only real "cloud" player, and with their head start in infrastructure they should be years ahead of Azure. Instead, they're years behind. Imagine, Android phones will be using Azure before they'll be using Google App Engine.

        PaaS is going to be worth billions... it is the sky, ready for the taking. Complain now that the cloud is unreliable, but so too is the electric grid (try accessing your files during a power outage). One day ... it's already started, actually ... we'll shudder at the thought of maintaining our own digital storage. So fragile, expensive, and limited! Why install apps on the PC I'm going to replace every few years when I can stream them from a cluster of data centers?

        I remember how impressed I used to be with Google. Now, I have no idea what they're doing. Hopefully they do.
      • RE: A Microsoft cheat sheet for Google I/O


        <i>"I remember how impressed I used to be with Google. Now, I have no idea what they're doing. Hopefully they do. "</i>

        Me too.
        Rich Miles
  • Execution

    The dreaded word for Google...

    ? ?[ek-si-kyoo-shuhn] Show IPA

    the act or process of executing.

    the state or fact of being executed.

    the infliction of capital punishment or, formerly, of any legal punishment.
  • RE: A Microsoft cheat sheet for Google I/O

    1. Please correctly inform your readers that Anything that has processor, memory, storage (no matter how small) and an OS is a PC. No matter how much they shout "its a ChromeBook not a PC" (or "its a MacBook not a PC").
    2. Chromebook is NOT OS less, it has a Linux kernel stripped down but Linux OS is still Linux OS. An OS less ChromBook is the one with its disk wiped clean.
    3. Can't Hotmail Offline? Have you forgotten Windows Live Mail? You don't have to be connected to use it.

    I think the blogosphere is the one wipping up all the sensation for this dead turkey from Google. Time will tell if this will not go the way of Oracle Thin Clients.
  • RE: A Microsoft cheat sheet for Google I/O

    angry birds...does anybody care about angry birds on laptop? kids maybe?