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Steve Ballmer recently sat down with Techcrunch to wax philosophical about browsers and their connection to the operating system. Ballmer was asked about the legal disputes over Internet Explorer bundling. Without missing a beat, he called the notion that operating systems can be independent of internet access “not a sensible concept”.
Ballmer went on to take a few swings at the upcoming Chrome OS, saying, “If you remember, [Marc Andreessen] said something like, Windows will just be a poorly debugged set of device drivers running Netscape… Now, that’s kind of basically the attitude expressed in Chrome Browser, Chrome OS.” He also called Chrome’s browser market share a “rounding error”, but noted that Firefox is having a real impact. Ouch for Chrome.
When asked about how Microsoft will fare against the continued onslaught of competitors, he answered like he’d been thinking about it a lot. Ballmer explained that Macs attack from the top of the market, and PC sales have gained a bit on Macs in the last year as people shied away from more expensive options. He went on to say that Netbooks were going to continue to be a big part of the Windows strategy.
Ballmer clearly lays out a world in which competitors are sometimes operating systems, sometimes browsers, and in the future may even be both. Even with all these new threats, he seems pretty sure Microsoft will stay on top. What do you think?