In an interesting turn of events, it seems Microsoft is on the brink of launching a cloud-focused version of Windows 10 (don’t call it RT!) ostensibly to be marketed directly against Chromebooks.
My, how we’ve come full circle.
If I can bring you back a few years, back to 2013 specifically, we can take a look at how Microsoft viewed the lowly Chromebook.
It wasn’t very pretty. As a matter of fact, they ran a whole “Scroogled” campaign in an attempt to dissuade users from choosing Chromebooks over Windows.
At the time, Chromebooks were just beginning to hit the education market and weren’t even making a splash with consumers.
It was an odd move, honestly, because their campaign probably made more people aware of Chromebooks than they were previously.
More interesting, these commercials basically were trying to undermine Chromebooks on the basis that they couldn’t install applications like Microsoft Office. While true, it was just as goofy then as it is now. Chrome OS provides a different paradigm of computing that focuses on connected, web-based services.
This concept was clearly above Microsoft’s collective heads at the time. Take a look.
Let’s move forward through time and get back to here and now.
In response, just 4 years after berating Chromebooks for their computing approach, Microsoft looks poised to follow suit.
Windows 10 Cloud, as reported here, looks to be a cloud-centric device that can install apps only from the Windows Market. Sound familiar?
First, it sounds exactly like Windows RT, which was a massive flop. I’d forgive you for not even knowing what that was.
Second, an OS that is built primarily for the web and web-based tasks? That also sounds very familiar.
And so, in 4 years, we’ve come full circle. Microsoft has moved from attacking Chromebooks to building an OS to take them on.
It is saying, quite clearly, that Chrome OS is not just succeeding, but that this paradigm of personal computing is legitimate. Even legitimate enough for Microsoft to stop making fun of it and begin mimicking it.
This Has Happened Before
Remember Steve Jobs saying that the old iPhone was the right size? Remember the lack of screen size options being a ‘feature’? Remember the commercials about your thumb being able to reach all 4 corners?
Staying with that size and shape for years was a purposed design choice by Apple and by Steve Jobs. No one needs or wants big screens or a stylus, right?
Yet, here we sit with 3 sizes of iPhone now. Just as large as their Android counterparts. Oh, and we also have a pen for the iPad.
And they are selling millions of them.
But no one wants that stuff, right?
When Big Companies Shift
When we see massive shifts in large companies like Apple or Microsoft and they begin doing things they once berated and wrote off, it is clear that the times are changing.
Microsoft’s once-strong denial of the legitimacy of Chrome OS has now turned to a bit of a ‘Me Too’ effort in Windows 10 Cloud.
It could do well for them. Time will tell.
But, beyond anything else, this shift for Microsoft only tells me that there are other, larger players in the market seeing and understanding that Chrome OS isn’t just a legitimate threat.
Chromebooks are coming into their own, changing the game, and are poised to make a real dent in the market in the coming years.
And to that, we say ‘bring it on.’