This week in Microsoft vs. Google: Chrome OS, a Yahoo Japan win and more

It's only Monday, but the week is starting off with some finished -- and unfinished -- Microsoft vs. Google business.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

It's only Monday, but the week is starting off with some finished -- and unfinished -- Microsoft vs. Google business.

On December 7, Google is slated to showcase the long-awaited Chrome OS. Google officials recently told me that Google intended to field a beta version of its operating-system-less operating system before 2010 was over. It now sounds like tomorrow's event may be focused around the delivery of a few thousand netbooks running the Chrome OS beta, seemingly as a way to get developers excited about Google OS's possibilities. (Sound familiar? Microsoft did something similar with Windows 7 touch-enabled laptops at its Professional Developers Conference in 2009. The difference: Windows 7 was shipping, not in beta, at that point.)

While many thought and expected Chrome OS to work on slates and tablets, not just PCs, it sounds like that may not be the case once the product debuts. The user interface on Chrome OS isn't touch-centric enough, some industry observers have said.

The Google OS netbooks many are expecting are simply generic machines, according to one tester.

"Google developers have hinted at a dogfood device that (would be) a fairly normal netbook, custom-loaded with a rolling release of ChromeOS and minimal local storage," said Carlo Daffara, an open-source software consultant.

"I saw the device for real during my participation at LinuxTag; after my session. It was more or less identical to an Acer Aspire one (A150), white, Google logo embossed in the front. Chris (Dibona, the open source and public sector engineering manager at Google) made it boot so it showed the fast-boot process, Google login (that was later changed slightly) and straight into its web browser."

Google officials have said to expect the final version of Chrome OS to debut in 2011.

On another Microsoft vs. Google ast week, the Japanese Fair Trade Commission OK'd a four-year search pact signed this past summer between Google and Yahoo in Japan.

Yahoo Japan has said it plans to launch a search service using Google's search and advertising technology here by the end of this year, according to the Associated Press. Yahoo Japan execs were quoted as saying Microsoft was not yet as far along as Google in the Japanese-language services it offered as an explanation for why Yahoo Japan went with Google instead of Microsoft Bing partner Yahoo.

Microsoft officials had attempted to cast doubt on the legality of the deal, playing the "anticompetitive" card.

Finally -- about that Unisys/Google General Services Administration (GSA) Google win last week...the one where the GSA decided to go Google and replace its aging Lotus Notes/Domino software with Google Apps.

Microsoft bid BPOS-Federal -- its most secure and locked down version of its Business Productivity Suite against Google, the Softies said. Here's the company's official statement, attributed to Curt Kolcun, Vice President of U.S. Public Sector for Microsoft:

"We are disappointed in the GSA’s internal email decision. Our BPOS-Federal proposal was a conscious decision to provide GSA with U.S.-only datacenter support, where data is maintained in the U.S., administered by U.S. citizens with background checks, in accordance with ITAR standards in a FISMA-certified environment. This offering meets the most stringent requirements of governments and we are working with several agencies who see this as essential."

(BPOS Standard and Dedicated still are not FISMA-certified, but the underlying Microsoft infrastructure is, best I can tell.)

However, according to another e-mail message I received from a PR agency working with Microsoft, maybe that FISMA certification wasn't really a requirement after all.

"The original (GSA) RFP required that data centers be hosted within the United States, therefore, Microsoft bid its BPOS-Federal solution to ensure that data would be maintained in the U.S. The GSA then amended the original requirement to allow data centers to be hosted outside of the United States," according to the Microsoft spokesperson.

I asked whether Microsoft intended to contest the GSA decision or seek to rebid a less-pricey BPOS SKU, given the amended RFP, but didn't hear back....

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