Taking the stage Tuesday at the annual Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer served up a furious, determined, and sometimes hilarious helping of Microsoft promotion, highlighting the company's intention to continue its aggressive stance despite the economic downturn. Ballmer hit on all of Microsoft's big upcoming products—Windows 7, Office 2010, Windows Azure, and so on—but his most interesting comments regarded Google's still-vaporware Chrome OS, which was announced last week.
"Who knows what this thing is?" he asked. "To me, the Chrome OS thing is highly interesting ... It won't happen for a year and a half, and they already announced an operating system \[Android\]. I don't know if they can't make up their mind or what the problem is over there, but the last time I checked, you don't need two client operating systems. It's good to have one."
Forgetting for a moment that Microsoft also sells two comparable client operating systems, Windows and Windows Mobile, and that each comes in a variety of flavors, what Ballmer is really arguing here is that Google is new to the OS game. As a result, the company will make a number of missteps before it finds its way and becomes a serious contender.
And Google might never get there. It's worth noting that its Android OS hasn't exactly set the world on fire, for example. But Microsoft would be wise to take the Google threat seriously, as I'm sure it is. There's a lot of dissatisfaction surrounding the PC, and while Windows 7 will certainly offset some of that, it's only a single step in the right direction.