Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman, delivered the obligatory Microsoft zingers tonight during an interview in New York with the Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher of AllThingsD, but this time one of his targets was new — Microsoft’s Surface tablet computer.

At one point during the interview, Mossberg brought up the upcoming launch of the Surface, pressing Schmidt for his thoughts on the meaning of Microsoft’s decision to make computer hardware.

“Isn’t this a historic moment?” Mossberg asked.

“It means a lot if the product works,” Schmidt said.

That was an apparent reference to the fact that Microsoft didn’t let journalists actually spend quality hands-on time with working Surface units during the unveiling of the new device earlier this year.

Google will compete with the Surface in some ways via Android tablets including its own Nexus 7.

At another point of the interview, Mossberg pressed Schmidt on why he doesn’t include Microsoft in his fabled “gang of four” key tech platform companies: Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon.

“Aren’t they a really important platform company?” Mossberg asked, referring to Microsoft.

“Let’s see what this new set of products does,” replied Schmidt. “You have reviewed Windows 8, you understand its quality and so forth and so on. Everyone I know has moved to the Mac in that space, so we’ll see how that plays out. They’re now behind. They’re a well-funded, smart, well-run company that have not been able to bring out state-of-the art products in the spaces we’re talking about yet.”

Here’s AllThingsD’s summary of the interview, and the archived video is below.

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  • noway

    wow…the Microsoft hate is obvious. Maybe Google would like to fix Android security and App quality issues and stop bashing their competitors.

    • Stephano

      Seems more like a general lack of respect for a competitor who vowed to “f….g bury” him and instead was easily vanquished. But there is some baggage there from his Sun past when MS was a lot more formidable.

      • Tim Acheson

        A shameful lack of respect for a rival company — true. Reflects badly on Google.

        “easily vanquished”

        Microsoft has not been vanquished, not even close, and least of all by Google.

        • Stephano

          Perhaps. But Apple has said equivalent or worse things. And let’s not even talk about people like Salesforce ;-)
          Yes, Google easily vanquished MS in search, which was the context. And of course they’re now more valuable as a company as well. That’s a pretty significant milestone.

          • Tim Acheson

            “Yes, Google easily vanquished MS in search”

            Microsoft was not hardly in search when Google was launched. Google beat Yahoo, and a handful of other very poor attempts at search.

            “which was the context”

            No, the context is very clearly mobile devices. Google insists on this being the only context, because it allows them to say things like this.

  • Guest

    At $199 for a tablet that does everything Nexus 7 does and much more, I think Microsoft Surface “works.” So long and thanks for all the Gmail, Eric.

    • Another Guest

      Holding on to imaginary products and price points is a sure sign of obsession (aka fanboi). It’s not clear yet if the tablet comes out at $199 (or $299 or $399 or $499). It’s not clear if the tablet does “much more” either. What is clear though is that most early adopters hate Microsoft with a passion these days and that the perception of “Metro” is luke warm at best. My prediction is their Win8 based product line will go down in flames and stand next to Microsoft Bob in computer history. Too bad because a dominating Apple may be worse in the long run than the previous reign of Microsoft.

      • Eastsiderpartdeux

        And offering up subjective opinion like “most early adopters hate Microsft with a passion” and calling it fact is a sure sign of a hater (aka troll).

        • Another Guest

          I’m actually not a Microsoft hater, nice try though “Eastsider” (aka MS employee). I’m just not in denial about how the company is perceived these days. They need to change this or they will go the way of IBM (aka irrelevant to consumers). And lastly, there is a difference between “clear” and “fact”. I stated it’s clear that early adopters hate MS. For example it’s somewhat hip in the startup community to hate on Microsoft. You are right though about it being a subjective perception as I didn’t do an exhaustive field study.

          • Eastsiderpartdeux

            My bad. I guess when you said “I admit I don’t like Microsoft much anymore”, you meant you still like them but only a teeny amount? LOL. And no, I’m not an employee. But there’s a second sure sign of a troll: accuse anyone who disagrees with their negative MS view of being on the payroll.

          • Another Guest

            I loved MS’s OS up until XP, and maybe Windows 7. I never really liked their domineering behavior towards competitors though. Historically, they deserve to be hated by many, including Schmidt. Personally, I greatly dislike Apple actually, but MS Metro to me seems like a stunning suicide attempt. We’ll see who is right. So yeah, I only like MS a teeny amount right now. But IMO they are still better than a world dominated by an Apple cult. Maybe you are not a MS employee, but as an “Eastsider” you indicate that you live in the MS epicenter (aka when you look around, all you see is MS people). But feel free to “accuse anyone who disagrees with” your MS view of being a troll. ;) Windows tiles are fugly and their Win8 mobile products will prove irrelevant. I understand the truth hurts.

  • Guest

    Wow. Eric Schmidt thinks everyone has moved to the Mac in that space? Let’s see… 4M Macs a quarter and about 100M PC’s. Yep! Eric is spot on!

    • Another Guest

      I went to the Microsoft store in University Village (Seattle) last week. About 5 employees, maybe 4-5 customers, one employee playing XBox with Kinect, tumbleweed (you get the picture). Then I crossed the parking lot into the Apple store, I counted about 40 employees and estimated about 200 customers. It felt like being at a lively farmers market. At first I thought they must all be in line for the new IPhone 5, but there was no line; they were all over the Mac products and IPads. I admit I don’t like Microsoft much anymore, but I like Apple even less. It’s not always about numbers alone, but about momentum. The PC is in decline, and only developers like myself seem to need it anymore.

    • Bob

      Google switched to Macs a while back, much of Silicon Valley develops on them, and Apple has very high share among the people he probably interfaces with most frequently (senior execs and fellow rich people). Obviously he’s using some hyperbole there, but it’s probably >80% accurate.

  • guest

    Schmidt has always been an arrogant mouthpiece and doesn’t disappoint here. But I can’t disagree with his main comments. Android/iOS is the defining battle in technology today. MS/Apple is done; Apple won. And Bing/Google was over before it began. MS isn’t in the gang of four. They’re not leading any revolution the ways those companies are. They’re instead being disrupted by them or are far behind and having very little success catching up. The comment about MS not bringing out state of the art products is more true than not. Kinect is an exception. WP7 was also fairly innovative as an OS, but none of the products that incorporated it were. So ultimately it wasn’t. Looking at the future, Surface could potentially qualify. But he’s right that it has to work first, and sell, which has been a recurring problem for MS with most of their new efforts. And then there’s W8, which represents quite a departure for Windows but isn’t state of the art, at least in its current form.

  • Jason Farris

    oh, it works. I have a win8 tablet now, and even in pre-release form, it’s a masterpiece of awesome… and apps, music, video aren’t even live yet. In terms of UI, Win8 devices are in first place.

    • Guest

      If apps, music and video are NYI, then it doesn’t really work yet, does it? Those are, after all, the key uses for a tablet/pad device.

      • My Pedantic Fool

        No, those were the key uses when iPad was the only game in town and that’s all it and iOS could do well. W8 doesn’t share those same constraints.

        • guest

          Those are constraints? Wait what? What crack are you smoking?

          • guest

            Learn how to read.

  • OvyOneKenobee

    You have to that understand Eric’s hatred for Microsoft runs deep. While he was CEO of Novell from 1997 to 2001 the company crumbled trying to compete with Microsoft. He joined the Google’s board in 2001 and has been eagerly awaiting Microsoft’s demise. Unfortunately for Eric, Microsoft is about to kick some serious ass starting October 26th.

    • Another Guest

      Thing is, we’ve heard the same mantra over and over again. Bing will kick some serious ass, Zune will kick some serious ass, WP7 will kick some serious ass, Mango will kick some serious ass, WP8 will kick some serious ass… meanwhile the real world hardly notices. My question is, when will people admit that there’s something fundamentally wrong with MS in recent years? After October 26th? Or will we continue to hear “Win8 is about to kick some serious ass come the holiday shopping season”, “W8 Service Pack 1 will kick some serous ass”, “All even numbers fail but Win9 will kick some serious ass”. You don’t hear that hope-for-the-future-crap from Apple, “The IPhone 5 sucks but the IPhone 6 will kick some serious ass”. When they announce something, it’s usually available soon thereafter. And we still don’t have a date or pricing on those magical surface tablets, meanwhile people can buy the IPad 3 or Nexus 7. The longer the denial goes on, the ruder the awakening. Ballmer and the board need to go, MS needs a fresh start.

    • guest

      The market doesn’t appear to agree with you.

  • Tim Acheson

    Typical Google: disingenuous, bitter, and blinkered, and with misplaced arrogance.

    “if the product works”

    Does he seriously believe that Surface will not work? No. But having never used one, this is the best he can come up with to say something negative about the product.

    “the gang of four”
    This is an official Google/Apple propaganda term, concieved when Google and Apple forged an alliance so close that they were actually sharing board members. By continuing to cling to this term today, and refusing to acknowledge the importance of Microsoft, Google is revealing its self as a corporation with a chip on its shoulder.
    Google hates Microsoft. They’ve been outwardly and extremely anti-Microsoft from the start, but after all these years Microsoft still dominates in all of their core markets, and indeed they have had a transformation and some extraordinary successes during the latest half of the past decade.
    “Everyone I know has moved to the Mac”
    He knows this is impossible to prove or disprove. Google has tried to officially ban Windows internally. This is insightful — they would not have needed to do so if they didn’t have many people inside their organisation who used and wanted to use Windows! Google can’t stop their employees using Windows at home, as many PC and Xbox gamers I’ve met online demonstrate to me on a regular basis. Their employer makes them feel they’re doing something wrong for making a choice that’s not officially sanctioned. Google should let employees use the product that works for them, rather than having draconian rules barring products of a legitimate competitor. Outside Google, the real data speaks for its self — Windows continues to dominate. Almost every PC and laptop on almost every desk in almost every home and business on the planet is a Windows machine.
    Google is not the same company we fell in love with a decade ago.

    • Bob

      Is it self-serving? Sure. But is it wrong overall? I think it’s far closer to the truth than the recent review of the company and Ballmer’s performance done by MS’s board. That is just a study in denial. And certainly revenue growth, market share trends, and market cap performance for at least three of his gang of four compared to MS support his perspective. So both buyers and investors are lining up with his world view. I guess MS can deal with the feedback in a few different ways. Get mad and lash out, like you’re doing. Ignore it and pretend it’s not true, which is still their preferred approach even though the results from a decade of doing that are now readily apparent. Or acknowledge the truth of it and use it to motivate themselves to bring more innovation to market. I hope they elect to do the last one.

      • Tim Acheson

        “it wrong overall”

        It’s demonstrably wrong, as I have already pointed out, but don’t miss the point — the point is, what’s missing more than what’s said. He refuses to acknowledge the role of Microsoft in tech.

    • guest

      The best way to shut Schmidt up is for MS to beat Google in the marketplace, which hasn’t happened in search, mobile, browsers, or email. They’re even made some significant inroads in enterprises apps, but there MS has done a btter job of defending. MS needs to walk the walk. The days of just talking the talking are over.

      • Tim Acheson

        No, it’s entirely the other way around.

        – Google came AFTER Microsoft.

        – From the first moment when Google’s search was successful, the corporation has used the cash from that to try and destroy Microsoft — in a decade-long war of technological and ideological battles — but Google has utterly failed to defeat MS.

        – Microsoft part owns Facebook, which some time ago overtook Google as the most popular website.

  • Kee

    It’s not about google’s hatred, Eric always was such an arrogant and rude man, so that’s ok with him ;)

  • Tim Acheson

    Google refuses to acknowledge the role of Microsoft in tech. But this attitude is frequently exposed as deceitful and disingenuous, e.g. in Google’s desperate and slightly sad little advert pleading with users to keep using Google in Windows 8:-

    Microsoft made Google. Just as Google became the gateway to the web, Windows became was the primary route to the Google homepage.

    Google is now in terminal decline, as old search is replaced ever more by apps and social.

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