Competition between software rivals heats up

The announcements by Google and Microsoft will give schools more software choices–and they’ve intensified a rivalry that has been growing for years.

Google intends to rely on help from the community of open-source programmers to develop its new Chrome operating system, which is expected to begin running netbook computers in the second half of 2010.

Google already has introduced an operating system for smart phones and other mobile devices, called Android, which vies against various other systems, including ones made by Microsoft and Apple Inc.

The Android system worked well enough to entice some computer makers to begin developing netbooks that will run on it. For instance, Acer Inc., one of the world’s largest PC makers, said in June it would make netbooks that run Android instead of Windows. Acer said Android would make the computers less expensive and possibly help them boot up faster.

In the past month or so, Microsoft has been winning positive reviews and picking up more users with the latest upgrade to its search engine, now called Bing. Microsoft is hailing the makeover with a $100 million marketing campaign as it seeks to challenge Google’s dominance in web searching.

Microsoft has drawn much of its power–and profits–from the Windows operating system that has steered most personal computers for the past two decades.

Google’s chief executive, Eric Schmidt, and its co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, have not concealed their disdain for Windows.

Schmidt maintains Microsoft sometimes unfairly rigs its operating system to limit consumer choices–something that Microsoft has consistently denied doing. Google fears Microsoft could limit access to its search engine and other products if Windows is set up to favor Microsoft products.

Despite its own power and prominence, Google won’t have an easy time changing the status quo that has governed personal computing.

As an example of how difficult it is to topple a long-established market leader, Google estimates about 30 million people are now using its Chrome browser–a small fraction of those that rely on Microsoft’s market-leading Internet Explorer. And there have been various attempts to develop open-source software to undermine Windows on PCs, with relatively little effect.

Links:

Windows Live for Education

Google Apps for Education


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