Apparently not content with a series of bizarre ads and an even more bizarre clothing line, Microsoft has fired off the latest salvo in its war against Google. This time the target isn’t in the realm of software, where Google’s tried to muscle in on its space in recent years, but Google’s hardware. More particularly, the Chromebook.
Yup, Microsoft’s decided to join the party and poke fun at a device everyone got bored of having a go at some time around mid 2012. And it’s decided to do that by bringing in presenters from the History Channel’s “Pawn Stars” and, um, lying.
As TechCrunch’s Frederic Lardinois notes, the pawn broker star of the ad’s claim that it’s impossible to use the Chromebook without an internet connection is just plain wrong. Sure Chromebooks work best with an internet connection (as most devices do these days), but there’s nothing stopping you working on documents, spreadsheets or playing Angry Birds if you happen to be offline for a while.
And, as Lardinois notes, that’s possibly why Microsoft is attacking the Chromebook: it’s scared. Chromebook sales have grown over the last couple of years thanks to their low prices and — while they’ll never be the stars of the PC world — they’re filling an important niche.
Additionally, the average user won’t be too concerned about the fact that you can’t play Call of Duty or Age of Empires on a Chromebook, especially given that you also can’t do either of those things on any of the sub US$250 laptops running Windows 8.
Then there’s the matter of not being able to run and install Microsoft Office apps, which would be massive problem if Google didn’t have its own suite of productivity apps that are fully compatible with Microsoft Office.
Finally, there appears to be a return to Microsoft’s baffling suspicion of the cloud. One of the key benefits of working with Google Apps is that you can access your content from anywhere and, if you’re freaked out about privacy, there are much better ways of keeping your content safe than saving it onto a hard drive. We’re also not sure that the content the average Chromebook user works on will mean that they’re really worried about that kind of thing.
The truth is, Google will probably push further and further into the niche its carved for the Chromebook and the machines will sell in ever-increasing number, no matter how much money Microsoft diverts from promoting its own products in to shaming its competitors’.
Go home Microsoft, you’re drunk.