Google May Be Undermining Microsoft's Best Chance to Save Windows

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If you were looking forward to purchasing one of Samsung or ASUS' radical new hybrid devices, you can forget about it: According to DigiTimes, Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) is putting pressure on its hardware partners, urging them to rethink their hybrid ambitions.

By hybrid, I don't mean Windows 8-powered convertibles (or PC/tablet hybrids like the Surface Pro), but full-on laptop/tablet hybrids that would've ran both Google's Android and Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) Windows.

Both ASUS and Samsung have unveiled such devices at trade shows in recent months, but if DigiTimes is correct, they'll never be available for purchase. If that's the case, it could put pressure on both Microsoft and Intel (NASDAQ: INTC  ) .

Fighting to stay relevant
With Windows 8, Microsoft was attempting to offer the best of both worlds -- the Metro interface for tablets, the desktop for traditional PCs. In theory, Windows 8 is custom-made for a hybrid device, but it suffers from one glaring flaw: a total lack of apps.

Compared with Google Play, Microsoft's mobile app store is a barren wasteland, devoid of all but the most-popular mobile apps. Although the interface is there for a fine mobile experience, the apps aren't -- making Windows 8 a poor choice for a mobile operating system.

I've argued in the past that by offering these hybrid devices, Samsung and ASUS were only going to make the problem worse -- if owners of hybrid PCs have access to Google's mobile operating system, developers have even less incentive to bring their apps to Microsoft's store.

In some ways, then, the death of these hybrid devices is a good thing for Microsoft, but as DigiTimes points out, it's not  exactly clear-cut. Google's Android is changing, becoming more than just a mobile operating system. Earlier this year, some of the biggest PC OEMs in the world, including Lenovo, introduced desktop PCs powered by Google's operating system.

In offering these mobile devices, ASUS and Samsung would've kept Microsoft's operating system relevant in the mobile world, allowing owners of these devices easy access to Microsoft's service, and, most importantly, its Office software suite. Devoid of Windows, owners of devices powered by Google's Android may be more likely to consider alternatives to Office, including Google's own competing Apps.

Intel looks to gain a foothold
But while the ultimate effect on Microsoft is somewhat ambiguous, it's indisputably bad for Intel. Perhaps not too bad -- I doubt these devices would've seen mass-market adoption -- but if they had been popular, it would've been a win for Intel.

Right now, Intel is struggling to gain a foothold in mobile -- chips from rival firms like Qualcomm dominate the space. And while it has scored some victories, it remains a smaller player.

In contrast, Intel still provides the vast majority of chips that run Microsoft's Windows 8 -- in fact, mobile chips from Intel's competitors are incapable of powering PCs running the full Windows 8 operating system. These hybrid devices, then, would've created more demand for Intel's chips, perhaps even amounting to a growth market.

Google keeps Microsoft out of mobile
By squashing these hybrid devices, Google may have successfully destroyed Microsoft's only chance at keeping Windows relevant in an increasingly mobile world. Windows-powered tablets have largely been a failure, and given the lack of apps in the Windows app store, that's unlikely to change in the near-future.

Intel and Microsoft still have the traditional PC market to fall back on, but it's a market in decline. According to IDC, the demand for PCs should fall further in the coming years, as consumers increasingly embrace mobile alternatives.

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Read/Post Comments (9) | Recommend This Article (0)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On March 08, 2014, at 12:13 PM, nohelmet wrote:


  • Report this Comment On March 08, 2014, at 1:27 PM, MustangAK wrote:

    Google may bring pressure but look at the sales advantages of being able to offer either.

    And Microsoft may decide to counter any Google offer.

    A shrewd company may see a profitable solution in such actions

  • Report this Comment On March 08, 2014, at 8:48 PM, Guzz wrote:

    Intel and MS should be wise and create faster hardware that can only fit on bigger devices (like jamming a few processors inside of a "superprocessor" box or something :)), by bigger devices I mean desktop computers, it could be micro-atx or mini-ipx, that way people will be attracted to the blazing fast but computers.

    Also the size of the other components should be reduced so people still can add multiple video cards and other devices.

  • Report this Comment On March 08, 2014, at 8:49 PM, Guzz wrote:

    *Blazing fast but small computers.

  • Report this Comment On March 09, 2014, at 12:02 PM, Weyoun7 wrote:

    There just aren't enough apps for Windows 8? The question should really be are there enough quality apps for Android. I use both android and Windows 8 PCs and tablets as well as Kindle HDX. If I want to read email or play a simple game, android is fine. If I want to some real work or play Windows has android beaten in almost every way. Try running three chrome browsers playing Zynga Mafia Wars or running Lightroom or Photoshop on an Android tablet. I do that on a Surface Pro as well as on PCs under Windows 8.

  • Report this Comment On March 09, 2014, at 3:05 PM, JoeLemon wrote:

    Lack of apps? Do you even know what a hybrid is like the surface pro? It can run all desktop apps. There is over a billion desktop programs more then ios and Android combined. So actually Android is lacking in the apps.

    Plus Metro itself now has pretty much all the popular apps.

  • Report this Comment On March 09, 2014, at 8:55 PM, Mahadragon wrote:

    I like Guzz's idea but I think the ship has already sailed. There's no new innovation in the PC biz (hardware wise). If you buy a new PC today it's gonna be your standard box, the same as it's been since the beginning of time.

    Why can't these companies introduce something fresh, something different? Guzz's idea was to make smaller computers, sort of along the lines of an Apple Mini. At least this way, our PC's would not take up our entire desktop. They would just be tiny little boxes that can hide wherever.

  • Report this Comment On March 10, 2014, at 2:19 AM, JoeLemon wrote:

    The apple mini is just a laptop without a screen. In fact all of apple computers use nothing but laptop parts. The imac is really just a laptop as well. Apple wasn't the first with a mini computer like that either.

  • Report this Comment On March 10, 2014, at 4:36 AM, Fooolz wrote:

    Finally a company is able to counter Microsoft. It was unthought of few years ago. Hopefully it brought down Microsoft's ego, as well.

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Sam Mattera

Sam has a love of all things finance. He writes about tech stocks and consumer goods.

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