Microsoft VARs View Google Chrome OS as Opportunity

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print

Unfazed by Google’s planned release of a new Linux-based operating system for client computers, resellers and solution providers say Google’s play in the OS space will create opportunities for them down the line.

Plenty of pundits are talking about how much Microsoft has to lose when Google releases its Chrome operating system, scheduled to debut on consumer netbooks at the end of 2010. And aside from Linux itself, Google’s forthcoming Linux-based Chrome OS may very well pose the biggest threat to Microsoft’s OS dominance that the company has ever seen.

But so far Microsoft reseller solution provider channel partners are saying that they welcome the new OS from Google and aren’t worried about losing Microsoft revenues. On the contrary, it could mean new opportunities for VARs.

"If anything, I would expect it to present opportunities for solution providers," says M.J. Shoer, COO of Portsmouth, N.H.-based solution provider Jenaly Technology Group. "If our clients need to implement it because if positively impacts their business operations, then it’s an opportunity for us to develop new expertise to help our clients. If it does not materialize in that context, then it’s a non-event for us."  

The operating system could even help solution providers repurpose existing workstations, extending their life spans, and resulting in more services revenue as VARs help their clients configure the systems.

"We are very excited about a low-resource operating system capable of running Web applications," says Steven Stern, a partner with Legal Technology Solutions in Baltimore, Md. "The impact goes far beyond an artificial turf war between two software giants. Imagine being able to use workstations another five to seven years after they have been rotated out. Today’s corporate desktop can be a family’s PC for years after it is removed from 'business class’ operation."

Mark Hilz, president and chief operating officer of INX Inc., a Lewisville, Texas, integrator and large Cisco partner, cited the Google Chrome announcement as yet another example of the types of challenges the major incumbents in the technology industry are facing today. And if the Google Chrome platform competes on price, then Microsoft has something to worry about.
"If Chrome gives solution providers a price advantage, they’ll be all over selling it," Hilz said. "Think about it, if you virtualized desktops to run most of your applications, do you care with the OS is? Microsoft will lose market share because people care more about the applications than the platform they run on."

Google announced plans for the Chrome OS in its official blog on July 7. Google says the Chrome OS would be designed as a lightweight operating system that boots quickly and is created specifically for the Web. That will create a significant opportunity for the ISV community as well, allowing any developer who works on applications for any standard Web browser to get in on the action.

Google says it will work with the open-source community on the Chrome OS and applications. The Chrome OS will be made up of the Google Chrome browser running within a new windowing system on top of a Linux kernel, according to Google. But it will be distinct from Google’s Android operating system, which is designed for a range of devices including mobile phones and netbooks. Google Chrome OS will be designed from the ground up, adding the security and other features that are required by those who heavily rely on the Web.

And that will likely affect the operating system market in the coming years.

"Google’s Chrome OS will certainly make some impact on the current OS market and not limited to Microsoft Windows but other open-source operating systems as well," says Shiv Kumar, executive vice president of Edison, N.J.-based solution provider ZSL. But that doesn’t mean the road will be an easy one for Google.

"Making a dent into the Microsoft’s ISV ecosystem is not that easy and Google’s enterprise and channel positioning will play a major role in making Chrome a real competitor for Windows or any other open-source OS which has reasonable market share," he adds.

And, after all, it’s Microsoft, says Lester Keizer, CEO of Las Vegas-based MSP Connecting Point.

"They’ll always do whatever they need to do to generate revenues for themselves," he says. "They are such a giant. This will get them to be more responsive and more on their toes."


Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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