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With Chrome OS and Cloud Services, Google Readies a One-Two KO for Microsoft

Google (GOOG) is trying to bust up Microsoft's (MSFT) cozy enterprise cash cows, as Larry Dignan observed on our sister site ZDNet. His compelling case only gets stronger when you consider Google's Chrome strategy.

Suddenly, Chrome OS, which has stood in the shadow of Google's mobile blockbuster Android, makes perfect sense. All of the company's actions become a concerted effort to encourage and even push consumers and corporate customers into a Google-centric computing experience.

Some of Google's activity includes the following:

  • Google Messaging Continuity, which lets companies back up Microsoft-based email into a cloud
  • a Microsoft Office connector that lets users sync documents with Google Apps and collaborate
  • Chrome OS netbooks, which will supposedly run 8 hours on a battery charge and only have a browser and HTML 5 apps, so users have to do everything on the Web
  • customized Chrome settings that appear either in the browser or on Chrome OS when you sign in to Google
If Google can make Chrome OS netbooks cheap, powerful, and convenient enough, the company bets that customers will switch over to a cloud-centric computing model after enough exposure. That would be a serious blow to Microsoft, which would lose its lock on desktops, notebooks, and office productivity software -- the keys to its financial success.

Ultimately, the question is whether this will work, and there is no way to know in advance. Right now, Google has taken some large corporate and government accounts from Microsoft with the promise of really cheap data services.

But getting corporations to use it to back up some of their most critical and valuable systems is no easy sell. IT is a bit expensive for a large company. Still, as a percentage of revenue, it's relatively small. The worry over losing operations even for short stretches -- one of those fears that keep executives awake at night -- could easily be enough of a rationalization to stick with what has proven to work.

And yet, every new technology and vendor had to build trust. Google certainly has the data center experience with its own operations, even if it had no other, to argue that it understand the problem and can address it. The company has already won over a number of large clients. Moreover, as Apple (AAPL) has shown with the iPhone and iPad, get enough consumers to buy into a platform, and it will spill into corporate use as well.

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Image: Flickr user Vectorportal, CC 2.0.
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