Gates and Ballmer talk Chrome OS: "Who knows what this thing is?"

By Mihir Patkar Published Date
15 - Jul - 2009
| Last Updated
15 - Jul - 2009
Gates and Ballmer talk Chrome OS: “Who knows what this thing is?”

Well, the gloves are off, as Microsoft’s two big names – former CEO Bill Gates and current CEO Steve Ballmer – have gone on record with their opinion of the Google Chrome OS. Surprisingly, in separate interviews that just happened to be on the same day. What a coincidence…


Ballmer dealt the first salvo during an on-stage interview at a conference for Microsoft’s technology partners, noting: “Who knows what this thing is? To me, the Chrome OS thing is highly interesting. It won't happen for a year and a half, and they already announced (another) operating system.”


Drawing on his company’s own experience during the times of Windows NT and Windows 95, the CEO added: “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.”


Meanwhile, in a lengthy interview with CNET News, Bill Gates changed his ‘no comment’ stand on the Chrome OS.


“There's many, many forms of Linux operating systems out there and packaged in different ways and booted in different ways. In some ways I am surprised people are acting like there's something new. I mean, you've got Android running on netbooks. It's got a browser in it,” he said.


Gates offered an insight into the marketing strategy of Google, explaining: “When Google is doing anything it gets this (way) – the more vague they are, the more interesting it is.”


And the multi-billionaire philanthropist was quick to dismiss the notion that the browser needs to be more like an OS, saying the definition of the browser has changed completely.


"It just shows the word browser has become a truly meaningless word," he said. "What's a browser? What's not a browser? If you're playing a movie, is that a browser or not a browser? If you're doing annotations, is that a browser? If you're editing text, is that a browser or not a browser? In large part, it's more an abuse of terminology than a real change."


While Google’s founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, are not known to comment a lot on competitors, let’s wait and watch what CEO Eric Schmidt has to offer as a rebuttal in the next few days.

Sources: Reuters, CNET News

Mihir PatkarMihir Patkar