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Sep 4, 2008

Does Windows Still Matter? Is any Browser the New Window?

September 4, 2008,  12:14 pm

Does Windows Still Matter?

“Chrome is not going to replace Windows. A computer requires an operating system such as Windows, Apple’s OS X or Linux to make the machine work. It does, however, have the potential to do what Mr. Gates feared: make the choice of operating system less important.”

So writes John Gapper, the fine columnist for The Financial Times in today’s paper. Chrome, of course, is Google’s new browser, which is pretty explicitly designed to be a Windows killer. As Mr. Gapper notes, that precise fear — that an Internet browser could become such a powerful platform for applications software that it would effectively take over the function of the operating system — is what caused Microsoft to start the browser wars in the 1990s, effectively putting Netscape out of business.

But it seems to me that even without the browser-as-platform, Windows is already dying a death by a thousand cuts. Yes, Microsoft still makes billions by selling pre-installed Windows via computer manufacturers. But ever-so-gradually, the Internet is upending its business model just as surely as it has upended models for the music, television and newspaper businesses. It is also true, as Mr. Gapper notes, that Bill Gates saw this coming many years ago — and sounded the alarm in a famous memo to Microsoft’s executives. But in the subsequent decade-plus, the company has been unable to keep it from happening.

Think about it: do you really care anymore which operating system you use? I don’t. ...

New York Times Agrees: Microsoft Windows Toast

The market trend that, slowly but surely, is eroding one of the greatest business monopolies of all time--Microsoft's Windows--is now visible enough that general business columnists in the mainstream media are writing about it. Consider the latest from Joe Nocera of the New York Times:

Google's Chrome Already Owns 1% Of Browser Market And 6% of SAI Readers

No Mac version yet and a public panning from WSJ oracle Walt Mossberg, but Google's (GOOG) Chrome already owns 1% of the Web browser market. Actually, 1.13% of the market as of 1 p.m EDT, according to Net Applications, which is tracking Chrome usage by the hour...

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