Microsoft's Ryan Gavin believes that Chrome OS' focus on the software rather than the hardware misses the larger point – and says that as browsers start to take advantage of our devices, they become even more important to our experience.
When asked about Chrome OS and cloud computing Gavin, who heads up the Internet Explorer division, insisted to TechRadar that the arrival of HTML5 in modern browsers, including IE9, shows that the hardware does matter and not just the operating system.
"I won't opine on Google's strategy, but if you think about Chrome OS you can ask 'why would they do that?' Well maybe it's because the device matters, maybe it's because you actually need some of that capability," Gavin said.
No huge delta
"I don't think about this huge delta between something like Office [in Windows] and a rich web application.
"I think that's where the future lies – when people get binary on it I think they miss the larger point."
Gavin points to the flying windows demo used to showcase the graphics capability of IE9, and says that the future still depends on devices that have some hardware oomph.
"For things like that flying windows demo you actually need to take advantage of the computing power of whatever machine you're on," he adds.
"That's important and for those experiences to persist off the web where a developer can write across several platforms - you need the same markup."
Office 2010 model
Gavin believes that the interoperability of Office 2010 and its web apps is a decent model for the future.
"Certainly on our part what we hear from customers is that the experience is what matters - what it can do and the capabilities of it.
"If I'm an Office user, the fact that I have this great Office application on my PC and when I'm on the road the fact I have this rich functionality of a web app [means] all those experiences become intertwined and it becomes part of my Office experience."
Gavin is aware that IE9 has to deliver as a modern web browser, and points to Microsoft's backing for HTML5 and presence on the web standards committees as evidence that the software giant is changing.
"I am more excited about where IE is than I have ever been over last 5 years," he added.
"It's positioned at a truly incredibly important inflection point not only for Microsoft but for the web.
"There is truly an expectation that developers and consumer have in terms of what the web is capable of."
"It's really defining what I think is a new version of the modern web; it doesn't feel like limited content, limited navigation, limited graphics, it feels like a rich application in many respects."