Google vs Microsoft: A Guide to the Battle
by Ben Parr
Last night, Google () jumped directly into Microsoft’s home turf by announcing Google Chrome OS, its new operating system for PCs and netbooks. And while we’re still debating whether it will take down Windows or flop like a fish on land, we tend to forget that this isn’t the first time Google’s challenged Microsoft. In fact, it’s become almost routine.
Whether its operating systems, documents, search, communication, or mobile, the two behemoths have been increasingly butting heads in a war for tech supremacy. Now with Google Chrome OS making headlines, we thought it would be appropriate to perform a straight-up comparison of where the competition between Google and Microsoft stands. So who’s winning the war? And how will Google Chrome OS affect this longstanding battle? Here’s an overview:
Google: What is there to say, really? Search is to Google as Windows is to Microsoft. They dominate the search market by a wide margin, despite Microsoft’s best efforts (including the company’s failed attempt to buy Yahoo).
Microsoft: They had to do something drastic to compete in search, and they did with their recent launch of Bing (). It’s received a lot of press, a lot of positive reviews, and has clearly caught Google’s attention. But does anyone seriously think it will overtake Google’s dominance in search anytime soon?
Advantage: Google. By light years.
Microsoft: Microsoft Office, with Word, Powerpoint, and Excel have been the leading way to create and edit documents for years, and for good reason – they’re widely used, widely known, and feature-rich. There’s also now Microsoft Office Live, which while not as collaborative as Google Docs (), isn’t a bad solution and has the benefit of being connected to the desktop apps.
Google: Google Docs have been growing in features and users. They provide a level of collaboration that Microsoft documents simply don’t offer. But they don’t provide as many options as Microsoft Office and they just don’t have nearly as many users. This is one area where the majority of users still prefer the desktop to the web.
3. Communication, Email, and IM
Microsoft: While Google’s probably more revered for Gmail () and its communication suite, Hotmail is still bigger, and Live Messenger is heavily used. Microsoft also produces the popular Outlook software and has software in a variety of arenas, such as Windows Live Meeting, giving the company an edge in the enterprise.
Google: The search giant has a suite of very popular communication products – Gmail and Gtalk () being the best known. The X factor in this debate though, is the upcoming Google Wave () communication platform, which has impressed us so far. There’s also the intriguing Google Voice offering to consider.
Google: Google’s has good traction with its Android () mobile OS given it’s relatively new to the space. It runs on more than one million T Mobile phones and has a strong app platform. Many of Google’s apps also run well on mobile phones, especially Google Maps () and YouTube ().
Microsoft: Windows Mobile still shipped tens of millions of units last year, far outpacing Android. It also has apps to run Office, Outlook, and Windows Media Player. We think the long-term trend favors Google, but as of right now Microsoft is the leader.
Advantage: Microsoft, but perhaps not for long.
5. Operating System
Microsoft: This is Microsoft’s bread and butter. Windows is the reason Microsoft makes $60+ billion in revenue every year and has stayed on top for so long. Its stranglehold is legendary. Yet Windows Vista proved that it is not invincible.
Google: Let’s say this: we can’t wait to see what Google has in store for Google Chrome OS. We’re skeptical that it could ever kill Windows, but Google will be Microsoft’s most powerful challenger yet.
Conclusion: We look forward to the upcoming war.