OS Wars

The OS wars are heating up again with Windows 7 and Snow Leopard nearing release and Google announcing Chrome OS. Since this site is called The OS Quest I should probably add my own tw0 cents. Feel free to ignore me as you should every other analyst.

Google Chrome OS

Despite all the buzz and claims of vendor interest Google Chrome OS is nothing more than a press release. There’s already Google Android which has been pretty slow to get traction in the cell phone market despite some early buzz.

It’s going to be Linux based, open source and built around the chrome browser. There’s already been Netbooks with OS’s that meet the first two requirements but with Firefox instead of Chrome. (At this point there isn’t a version of the Chrome browser for Linux.) Despite this Windows XP is still the leading OS on Netbooks by a large margin. After a early Linux surge to around 30% most studies now give Windows a 90% market share.

By the time Chrome OS appears Windows 7 will be firmly entrenched on netbooks. Sure, there’s plenty of vendors looking at Chrome OS but let’s face it. It’s in their interest to look, if only to pressure Microsoft.

Competition is good so another OS choice probably won’t hurt. I just can’t get excited about a OS that hasn’t expanded beyond the press release.

Windows 7

I like Windows 7 a lot and am using it as my primary OS now (well at home at least, my day job requires Windows XP). But I’m convinced Microsoft will find a way to screw it up and they seem to be trying real hard to do just that.

The upgrade pricing for premium and professional was a step in the right direction. But they managed to screw it up by limiting the time and quantity. How do you sell out of a product that will be delivered electronically (when ordered from Microsoft) and which hasn’t actually been manufactured yet? You don’t. You impose artificial limits. Microsoft makes most of it’s money off of OEM sales through manufacturers so all these sales should be considered gravy.

They further annoyed their best users. Windows Vista Ultimate users paid a premium and Microsoft barely delivered any “Ultimate Extras”. Now there’s no special pricing for them to upgrade to Window 7 Premium. Sure, Microsoft seems to be trying to de-emphasis Ultimate, but this is a slap in the face to their customers.

There’s still a lot of unanswered questions or questions with conflicting answers about the upgrade. The information out there is more rumor than fact and will stay that way until some people get their hands on official upgrade media.

It still annoys me that Microsoft ships the exact same bits with every version, they just disable features in the lower editions. It doesn’t cost them any more to make the higher editions, the bits are on every DVD, but there are huge variations in the price between editions. I’m annoyed that if Remote Control is the only feature I want in Professional I still have to pay twice as much to get it. Of course, Microsoft Mesh ignores those version limitations and brings remote desktop to all versions, making this even more frustrating.

Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard is Apple’s poke at Microsoft. A $30 upgrade targeted to improve OS performance without promoting a lot of new features. The same could be said about Windows 7, except Microsoft is charging a hell of a lot more. Sure, the business model is different with Apple selling their own computer hardware, but that doesn’t help Microsoft’s image.


I’m already on Windows 7 RC at home and I’ve ordered my upgrades along with upgrades for family PCs I support. It’s a huge improvement over XP and Vista and it’s the first Windows upgrade I’m doing on existing hardware. Usually by the time a new Windows version comes out my old hardware will collapse when I install it. Sure, my hardware is newer these days but Windows 7 ran better than Vista or even XP on the hardware.

I’ll install Snow Leopard when it’s released and it will be buggy like most of Apple’s releases these days. I’ll just hope none of those bugs bite me. It’ll get rave reviews and I’m sure I’ll like it.

Google Chrome OS, won’t be much more than a press release this year. Maybe some early builds if Google open sources it as promised latter this year. Since their will be a lot of hype around it some manufacturers will sell Chrome OS netbooks no matter what the OS is like. Whether or not the OS does well depends on how it moves from press release to bits.