God knows they've tried to influence the net; Facebook, lolcatz and Perez. But real IT companies are not considered with the steady stream of cultural detrits that is floating around the web. What they are more concerned about is how you are viewing it. You see, the folks at Redmond are sitting on one giant nest-egg that has been around for years that according to statcounter around 90% of us worldwide are continuing to use.
So who decides which OS is king? Is it just a matter of cool? I doubt it, I'm not sure where Windows sits on the cool-o-meter and I don't think that operating systems as a whole are the kind of cool that the kids are interested in. They are kind of the opposite to the big guys, they are more interested in what they are looking and not what they are using. I would argue that the driving influence for any computer technology are those of us who actually care.
Why is my Mother now using Firefox when 6 months ago she was stuck on IE6? Because someone who cared bothered to go and install an alternative. A couple of years back I may not have bothered, but what has made this shift in the environment that now so many people are moving away from Explorer and installing Chrome or Firefox or something else. We have! The people who care. The stuff floating around the net may belong to our cultural heroes, but what you are using belongs to us. The developers, the tech writers, the support team and the salesmen, not the guy on the street.
If it were just a matter choice maybe the Mac guys or the Linux guys would have had a better share, but recently there has been a real movement to change and you can see it in the last twelve months of browser statistics. It has been mobilised through blogging and demonstrated by the number of installs on friends and parents machines. So why is this so important to the OS market?
If you have ever tried, you will know how hard it is to convince someone to switch their browser, but once they have switched it is just as hard to switch them back. So, although at most major stores across the world your shiny new PC will come pre-installed with the latest version of Explorer, these same friends and parents will come back and ask you to reinstall their new favourite browser.
I just finished reading Robert Scoble's latest post titled "Why Google Chrome OS has already won":
"Google is in a war over developers with Microsoft. Google wants developers to build for the open web. Microsoft wants developers to build for Silverlight. Those messages are VERY clear coming out of both camps now."
I would argue that Google is not in a war over developers for the sake of building an open web, but for the reasons I have already mentioned. Google's war is not won at the storefront, but at the same place that Firefox won its battle. They want the tech guys to get off their backsides and install their new operating system on as many Friends / Mum and Dad machines as possible. Yes they are battling over developers, not to write code for a specific purpose, although they are trying to win the developers with their code, but they want the developers to be inspired to change.
In the end the cool kids will still use whatever is put in front of them, they can't tell the difference between Greenday and My Chemical Romance. The only way to change what the average Joe is using is if we can be bothered enough to go out and do it ourselves and now that Google knows that, hopefully they can deliver an OS good enough for us to get out there and do it.