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Google's Schmidt writes off Microsoft

Eric Schmidt

By Barry Collins

Posted on 5 Dec 2012 at 09:53

Google's Eric Schmidt says he doesn't consider Microsoft to be among the gang of companies that "matter most" in consumer technology.

The search firm's executive chairman and former CEO also claims Windows 8 has failed to become a "trendsetter", in a wide-ranging interview with the Wall Street Journal.

I think that Microsoft has not emerged as a trendsetter in this new model yet

When asked whether he considered Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon to be the "gang of four" companies that matter the most in consumer technology, Schmidt agreed, suggesting Microsoft's time at the top of the tech industry was in the past.

"We had never in our industry seen four network platforms of that scale," Schmidt said. "We had seen IBM, and we had seen Microsoft. But now we have four, and the resultant competition is a huge change in the industry."

When later asked what he thought of Windows 8, Schmidt replied that he hadn't tried the new OS, adding: "I think that Microsoft has not emerged as a trendsetter in this new model yet."

Apple attack

Schmidt was also pressed on Google's uneasy relationship with Apple, which has been strained by Apple's attempts to sue prominent Android handset makers such as Samsung.

The former Google CEO said it was "extremely curious that Apple has chosen to sue Google's partners and not Google itself," and suggested there was no end in sight for the numerous patent litigation battles. "It'll continue for a while. Google is doing fine. Apple is doing fine."

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User comments


So where is Googles, Apples, Amazon of Facebooks consumer facing games console? Nowhere.

These companies may have a few nice consumer products but MS have fingers in all the tech pies. Consumer and business, software and hardware, client and cloud.

By stephen_d_morris on 5 Dec 2012

Microsoft have wasted a lot of money on Windows 8 and Surface. Windows 8 is a dog to use on a laptop without a smart menu hack, and they don't have the app ecosystem to build a competitive tablet\smartphones platform. They should have quit the tab\phone space while they were behind. Their only competitive consumer product is Xbox. They should have focussed on that and their business products which are market leaders. Server 2012, System Center, Office et al will keep the business revenue rolling in. Can Microsoft be as dominant as 5-10 years ago, no. Can it still be one of the biggest IT\Software firms in the world for the foreseeable future, yes.

By brendan on 5 Dec 2012

The Economist are running a feature this week on "Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook". How did Facebook get on that list: they're not nearly as profitable as Google, and unlike the other two they don't actually sell anything? All these tech pundits seem to repeat each other's opinions. The punditocracy is becoming a giant echo chamber. As for Microsoft, it is simply too early to tell. If they hadn't tried relaunching Windows and Windows Phone we'd still be moaning.

By c6ten on 5 Dec 2012

I think that a very narrow definition of "consumer technology" is used here. It's basically "some stuff having to do with smartphones and tablets". I know it's all very cool and whatnot, but basically they're just selling a lot of phones and tablets...

What about the Xbox with Kinect, and the huge range of possibilities there? None of these other companies come anywhere near that. It's a shame that Windows (Phone) 8 is not much more integrated with Kinect (coming to think of it: why aren't they???) because that would be a killer combo.

Imagine a set top box which runs a solid OS, is open to a wide range of media formats, can interface with various devices around your house, and is controllable by hand / arm motion!

I think we have so far to go still, it's still up for grabs. All these companies offer part of an encompassing "home solution" but none come close to offering the whole package.

By TheoB on 5 Dec 2012

This is the man ...

who said of privacy concerns something along the lines of, "If you've done nothing wrong then you've got nothing to hide." After trotting out that stupid, totalitarian view of the world I'm surprised anyone actually listens to him. I do believe that he is the Kelvin MacKenzie of the tech world. Odious little man.

By slyme1 on 5 Dec 2012

It's when they ignore you, you know you've had it!

Sorry but you're simply parroting the same banal clichés about W8 that the punditoctracy (thanks c6ten) has been churning out for a year now.

I'm using, and have used W8 exclusively on my Tablet, Laptop & Desktop for ages and guess what?.....

MS may well have 'jumped the shark' with W8, but it'll take a while for that to settle down. In the meantime I'm enjoying the extra performance & features of W8 and learning its little foibles.

One thing's for sure, MS has some great products, but maybe not the chutzpah to get them out there...

By wittgenfrog on 5 Dec 2012


Schmidt replied that he hadn't tried the new OS, adding: "I think that Microsoft has not emerged as a trendsetter in this new model yet."

- That statement alone shows that the guy is an absolute idiot. You simply shouldn't slam something that you (Daniel above) haven't even used. It's stupid.

P.s. @Brendan: Seriously, grow up or actually USE THE product. If my girlfriend can use, along with a six year old, ANYONE can use Windows 8 with absolute ease. (Typing this from my laptop, which has Win8, no start menu... ohh nooo!)

By rhythm on 5 Dec 2012


This week my Surface RT 64Gb device arrived into work and everyone in the room actually knew what it was. Well, kind of, they'd seen the advert and at least that's a start.

By rhythm on 5 Dec 2012


Where are the consumer-facing games consoles? Well, let's see, Google's Android powers millions of smartphones and tablets, and as of next month, the Ouya console. Amazon has tablets that play games. Apple has tablets and glorified MP3 players that play games. And Facebook is rumoured to be working on something portable, beyond their Android and iOS apps. So I'd say you've been living in a cave; you've missed at least half a decade of developments.

By Morely_Dotes on 5 Dec 2012


Sorry but the Xbox isn't really an argument. If it was then Sony and Nintendo would also be in the gang. I'm not writing Microsoft off because they are the business company but in terms of consumers they're nowhere. I've heard a report that they will struggle to sell one million surface RTs this quarter. That's just awful sales. I don't understand Microsofts direction anymore. They desperately need to regroup

By marklitt on 5 Dec 2012

Win 8 a winner

What most folks don't stop to consider is that the Win O/S is part of NT platform! The combination of factors will add up to make up for one powerful package.

By gravenbali on 6 Dec 2012

Just how unbiased is Schmitt's opinion likely to be? I imagane there were a few share involved in his departure from Google.

By Shuflie on 6 Dec 2012

Hmm, I think Microsoft's not done yet.

Outside of my more techy friends, much of what Google, facebook and Amazon have on offer is of little importance to the rest of computer using friends.

Most are unaware of the more advanced facebook and Amazon services and Google is still just a place to look for stuff.

For them computing is Microsoft.

Furthermore, from a personal note; yes I think Microsoft have dropped the ball several times, but I still consider them the driving technology behind my business and personal life. I can live without my iPhone, Android and Chrome and I abandoned Macs several years ago due to their costs.

linux is a none starter, its fun to play with but there is simply not enough local support, which leave Windows.

Therefore, take Microsoft out of the picture and I have no cost effective alternative.

By Autodine on 6 Dec 2012

From that picture he looks like a trendsetter from the 90's ...

with those googly glasses, brown suit and smart hair style :D

By qwerty on 6 Dec 2012

Rhythm, your descent into personal insults betrays the weakness of your argument. I'm not saying Win 8 is unusable. Even a monkey could, given long enough, manage to post a comment here using Win8.

What I'm saying that Metro on a keyboard and mouse is not as nice an experience as the Windows desktop. Hence without a start menu hack, the undoubted improvements Win8 brings such as performance boost in boot speed, hibernation-resume, general responsiveness, along with enterprise improvements such as Windows To Go and the new Direct Access, aren't worth the hassle of putting up with Metro.

Had Microsoft made Surface RT manageable (by corporate group policy) and removed the Win desktop completely, it might have been been an enterprise winner. Can't see it succeeding TBH. So much depends on Surface Pro, but I suspect it will either be too big or too slow\poor battery life to compete with a dedicated tablet OS platform.
If MS stick to what it's good at: the worlds of work and play, and leaves consumer computing behind, it can still be a huge global powerhouse.

By brendan on 6 Dec 2012

Win8 Ok. Schmidt and the punditocracy, er...yes.

There's nothing wrong with Metro on a desktop/laptop. Sure, there's no clue what to do for those new to it, but hey, what's hard about this?....

To find a program - start typing.
To find a file - start typing.

To have a default action from the metro screen, move the file/app/program to the top left of the screen. Hitting enter starts it! I have the desktop there and hitting enter fires up the desktop.

What is hard about any of that? All of these actions use less clicks than finding a program in the w95 to W7 programs menu.

On top of this, the noted improvements in file copying and other 'neath the surface guts of the OS are great.
As is the File History system which, as long as it's started, is a no-brainer backup solution that the average person has been crying out for, for years. Finally, it just works.

All the old Winkey shortcuts are there, plus a few newbies.

In short, I can whizz from the front screen to explorer to the depths of the system much faster than on Win7.

The only thing I don't like is the flat interface and duplication or spreading of settings through the Charms Bar. I suspect these will change over time.

As for Schmidt, I'm in accord with others here. He personally ruined the do no evil mantra and to dogmatically pontificate on an Operating System without even trying it and then the punditocracy (thanks @c6ten) quote all of this without question just beggars belief.

M$ is pulling out all the stops on this one. The OS and it's addons are almost a giveaway and they're making seamless connectivity to the big players. e.g. Connect to and you can either import contacts from GMail etc or, more importantly, it'll hook right into your gmail contacts list if you let it. How long Google will allow this is anyone's guess.

Back in the early nineties M$ made it fiendishly simple to connect to many different systems and program file formats while at the same time offering their products at knock-down prices. The take-up in Office, particularly, left most with marginalised applications and businesses. Sure they've been penalised for illegal business practices, but look, where's Netscape? Who now uses Paradox, dBase, Wordperfect or Lotus 123? There's only Office.
When M$ fires on all cylinders others had better watch out and my feeling is that what's currently happening is very similar to the early nineties.

By mdrees on 6 Dec 2012

Metro is an impediment to what you want to do. Yes you can still press the Windows key and type, but it won't find what you want. Try this now: press the Windows key and type mmc. The default option will not be to launch the MMC Console. This is a common thing that a sys admin needs to do all day. Type "mouse" to get into your mouse settings (or any other setting), nothing is returned, you now have to do a special "settings" search - WHY!!!??? Metro just gets in the way.
Metro apps take up the whole screen so are a waste of space on a big 22+ inch screen. Why all the clicks to shut down and restart? I could go on. Metro is a dog on a keyboard and mouse. Vista mark II. Only option is to use a hacked start menu (but you still have to occasionally contend with Metro) or wait for its inevitable removal in Win9. Or switch to Ubuntu if Microsoft abandons us keyboard\mouse users for good.

By brendan on 6 Dec 2012

you can have w8 and a start button

If you want a start button on w8 then Stardock have a program called start8 .

(Not relevant to article but seemingly relevant to discussion. )

By blagger123 on 7 Dec 2012

lol, because


2. Project Glass

3. GOOG and MSFT have similar market caps. MSFT outperformed GOOG for most of 2012, and they have performed similarly for the last 5 years.

4. Personally, I'm write off Eric Schmidt for this infantile trash-talk.

By gavmeister on 7 Dec 2012

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