Can Google Steal Microsoft's Windows XP Upgraders -- In the Office Space?

Google just launched a big Chromebook discount program for business-class buyers. Can Chromebooks derail Microsoft's Windows 8 upgrade plans?

Apr 9, 2014 at 8:00PM

A Chromebook running office-style productivity tools. Image source: Google.

Here we go. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) won't walk away from the end of the Windows XP era unscathed -- at least not if Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) has a say in it. And Google has enlisted longtime Microsoft partners Citrix Systems (NASDAQ:CTXS) and VMware (NYSE:VMW) to help with the heavy lifting.

Yesterday was the last day of official XP support, with the final round of security updates for the 13-year-old platform. It was also the start of a big discount program on Google Chromebook computers, aimed specifically at the enterprise market.


Say goodbye to Windows XP.

The promotion makes sense because Windows XP is not exclusively tied to Luddites and tech-averse grandmas who just don't need anything fancier for their basic email and Web browsing needs. Many enterprise environments are handcuffed to XP, sometimes even locked down to the long-since unsupported Internet Explorer 6 browser that shipped with the original Windows XP. Business applications have been built to depend on quirks and bugs unique to the platform, and many others simply never got tested and qualified to run on anything else.

But now, it's high time to update those graybeard applications, qualify their functionality on modern platforms, and leave XP behind.


This is what Microsoft would like you to install instead.

Microsoft would love for IT managers to simply adopt a newer Windows version, and ideally Windows 8.1, which got a mandatory set of security and feature updates yesterday. I'm told that the new version moves away from the hard-nosed touchscreen focus a little bit, making it more familiar and usable for people with many years of XP-style experience. This could be a huge upgrade moment in the history of Windows.

But, like I said, Google won't let Microsoft have all the fun.

"It's time for a real change, rather than more of the same," Google says, complete with a link to Microsoft's Windows 8 upgrade program. Big G now offers $100 off each Chromebook system that's bought through the company's sales channels for business-class customers.

Google didn't forget about the need to run legacy Windows applications, which you cannot do on a plain Chromebook and its Linux-based innards. The discount jumps to $200 for Chromebooks with VMware's Horizon Desktop as a Service (also known as DaaS) pre-installed. Or, you can get a 25% discount on Citrix Systems' XenApp DaaS solution, which works out to roughly $50 per system.


...but Google has another option in mind. Image source: Google.

VMware and Citrix are happy to support this sale, because a significant non-Windows business platform would be good for their Windows-based desktop and app-sharing solutions. Doesn't really matter if it's Google's systems that break through, or some other desktop and laptop player with a big appetite. It could even be a neutered, low-cost Windows platform for all Citrix and VMware care. The key is to have low-powered systems in the hands of large business-class populations, with a need to deliver Windows-based apps to them. And Chromebooks fit that bill.

Now, it wouldn't make sense for consumers to buy Chromebooks via Google's enterprise program. There's a $150 fee for each computer to cover a centralized management system, which gives IT managers a way to manage lots and lots of Chromebooks in one simple interface. But it costs $50 more than the $100 discount, and really doesn't do much for one or two computers in private use.

So this promotion is strictly for business buyers. If there's a consumer-level discount program up Google's sleeve, the company hasn't cracked its poker face yet. Stay tuned.

If it's time to update your systems anyway, then why not jump to a totally different platform standard? It remains to be seen whether Google Chromebooks can carve out a significant space in the business sector. But you can't win the lottery without buying a ticket. On that note, this opportunistic promotion might give Google a foot in the door to Microsoft's most cherished market -- the business world.

Are you ready to profit from this $14.4 trillion revolution?
Office software is a big deal, but hardly the only game-changing growth opportunity on the table. Let's face it, every investor wants to get in on revolutionary ideas before they hit it big. Like buying PC-maker Dell in the late 1980s, before the consumer computing boom. The problem is, most investors don't understand the key to investing in hyper-growth markets. The real trick is to find a small-cap "pure-play," and then watch as it grows in EXPLOSIVE lockstep with its industry. Our expert team of equity analysts has identified one stock that's poised to produce rocket-ship returns with the next $14.4 TRILLION industry. Click here to get the full story in this eye-opening report.

Anders Bylund owns shares of Google (A and C shares). The Motley Fool recommends Google (A and C shares), and VMware. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google (A and C shares), Microsoft, and VMware. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

Click here to learn about this incredible technology before Buffett stops being scared and starts buying!

David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

©1995-2014 The Motley Fool. All rights reserved. | Privacy/Legal Information

Compare Brokers