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Thursday, June 24, 2010
This has been all over the news. Google is going to abandon Microsoft OS and switch to Mac OX and Linux.

But if you read the news carefully, you won’t find anyone from the Google executive team behind this message. Perhaps this time our media friends jumped the gun and took the words of unnamed employees - most likely misinterpreting them.

Regardless, the facts do remain. There are many operating systems on the market, but the major ones are coming from three places: Microsoft, Apple and open-source Linux. Every one of them has multiple versions. When referring to the Windows operating system and its security issues, we usually mean Windows XP, which is fairly old, but still a very dominant and widely-used OS. Although it is a dominant system on the world markets, Windows XP is constantly under hacking attacks which makes it very vulnerable. This is similar to John Lennon’s story when his popularity got him killed.

We don’t have any real proof that Mac OX and Linux are more secure as they have never been tested in the same conditions. They have never been in the same situation, having as many users and so much hate pointed to one product.

Meanwhile, Windows 7 and the hated Windows Vista are much more secure systems than the old Windows XP. Vista users always complained about confirmation messages, but this was a major way to keep the system user-friendly and flexible, while making it more secure. There is no technological challenge to close the system from attacks, but it is a challenge to keep the system open, friendly, and secure at the same time. If you want to allow developers to create applications for your system, you have to give them access. If you want your system to communicate with other devices and 3rd party software packages, you have to open the gate a little bit.

Back to Google…I don’t think they really need Microsoft’s OS. As a software developer, they can live happily with Linux or its modified versions. They also don’t use business management tools like Microsoft Exchange and many others including Office programs. They develop their own business tools, market them, and use these products within their organization.

Keep in mind that on average, business and user needs are very different from the needs of Google, Inc. Neither Linux (a very advanced operating system) nor Mac OS can provide the solutions package or simplicity that we get from Windows OS including server side functionality. And we take that for granted.

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Monday, June 14, 2010
Lately I have been bothered by what is going on in the so-well-covered rivalry between our beloved software giants: Microsoft, Google and Apple. Recently, the paper value of Apple even surpassed Microsoft’s for the first time in more than 20 years, and I was thinking maybe it is a sign of a serious change in balance of power within this market.

You never know, but it doesn’t look like we are going to see some critical shift in this balance.

In order to understand future trends, we usually rely on careful analysis of the past and the present. We have known Microsoft and Apple for so many years that Ballmer and Jobs became household names. My personal opinion is that we can’t even compare these two companies - that’s how different they are. I would consider today’s Apple as mainly a consumer electronics company. The company’s management style is very centralistic and its vision is built solely around Jobs’ business ideology. Once Steve decided that we had to abandon keyboards and switch to touch screen, Apple developed a product which was kept in secrecy and unveiled with much hype. Jobs develops what he thinks the future should be and then he convinces us with much success to use Apple’s products.

On the other hand, Microsoft’s approach has always been much different. We always knew that a new operating system was always in development. We also knew the product’s code name and had advanced notice of Beta releases, which were almost never on time. Microsoft started the development not from a single person’s dream, but from careful analysis of the potential user’s needs. Microsoft loved to release unfinished products to learn even more from the early adaptors and fix the major problems before releasing them to the masses. Sometimes this approach worked; sometimes you just can’t satisfy all. One big difference between Apple and Microsoft is the fact that Microsoft still continues to be mostly a software company, enjoying higher profit margins than a mostly hardware-oriented company.

Google follows the same path as Microsoft. It tries to play with hardware here and there, and I believe it will do it even more in the future, but like Microsoft, Google will remain mostly software developers. Another important similarity between Microsoft and Google is their run-after business users and developing platforms for corporations. Apple mainly ignores this market, even though most of its products are used heavily for business and not just pleasure or entertainment.

The conclusion of this short review is that each company will continue following its own path, and from time to time we’ll see interesting intersections of these paths which will be considered by our hype-loving press as the modern day Clash of the Titans.

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