The rivalry between Microsoft and Google is an interesting one. The two battle it out in a number of areas including online search, online productivity suites, and mobile operating systems. Google's Android OS is currently used in 28 percent of the smartphones shipping in the United States, placing it ahead of both Apple and Microsoft. A growing number of companies are also putting Android into its tablets as well.
A current poster-child for Android tablets is Dell's upcoming Streak. The 5" tablet features a 5" (800x480) display, 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 5MP camera, and 3G capabilities. The Streak currently runs Android 1.6, although Dell notes that an over-the-air (OTA) update to Android 2.2 will come later this year.
Now we're learning that Microsoft doesn't seem to be to worried about Google's foray into the tablet market according to the Wall Street Journal. When it comes to tablet operating systems, Microsoft's Steve Guggenheimer feels that OEMs will eventually see the light and come running to Redmond's doorstep. Guggenheimer points to the quick transition in the netbook arena from "alternative" operating systems to ones based on Windows XP (and now, Windows 7). He notes that when ASUS created the netbook category, "it was 95% not on Windows, and three years later it is 95% on Windows."
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer also took a few shots at Android a few weeks ago. Ballmer noted that "there's nothing free about Android." Guggenheimer echoed those sentiments today at Computex, stating, "Is free really free, and what does that mean over time?”
Windows has proven to be a phenomenal platform for our partners to make money. They know we are going to continue to build support to the operating system."
Interestingly, Guggenheimer didn't take the time to point out one of the main criticisms often leveled against Google's Android operating system: fragmentation. Even the aforementioned Dell Streak runs a seriously outdated version of the Android OS (1.6), while the latest currently available version is up to 2.1. With OEMs choosing either to go with the stock Android UI or develop their own (think HTC's Sense), it can take some time for them to provide their mobile devices -- be they smartphones or tablets -- with the latest versions of the Android OS.
It remains to be seen if Microsoft will be to fend off Google in the tablet market. Microsoft has the strength of a huge legion of programmers and software for the Windows platform, while Google's Android OS is specifically tailored for a handheld form-factor and was built from the ground up as a touch-driven platform.