Microsoft could potentially face a threat in the newly announced Google Chrome OS, intended to operate on mininotebooks, known popularly as "netbooks." If netbooks continue to increase their share of the overall PC market, some analysts predict Google's OS could seize a respectable OS market share within three to five years. Google has also suggested that Chrome OS will eventually be able to power full-size desktop systems, an idea that directly threatens Windows.
and its Windows operating system could potentially face a long-term threat from
Google Chrome OS, the search engine giant's newly announced operating system initially
intended for mininotebooks, known popularly as "netbooks."
announcement of the operating system, which it plans to make available to
consumers in the second half of 2010, certainly contained tidbits of
information to make Microsoft pause.
Chrome OS is being created for people who spend most of their time on the Web,
and is being designed to power computers ranging from small netbooks to
full-size desktop systems," Sundar Pichai and Linus Upson, vice president of
product management and engineering director, respectively, for Google, wrote in
a July 7 posting on the Google corporate blog. "While there are areas
where Google Chrome OS and Android overlap, we believe choice will drive
innovation for the benefit of everyone, including Google."
targeting its initial efforts on an open-source and lightweight operating
system for netbooks, Google manages to largely avoid having to deal with the
messy world of OEM peripheral vendors, as well as the ecosystem of high-powered
desktop machines where Windows has a demonstrable market lock.
to Microsoft, some
96 percent of netbooks currently run some version of its operating system.
However, that number does not fully account for devices being purchased with
Windows installed and then wiped to make way for an open-source operating
system such as Linux.
represent an expanding part of a PC market otherwise hit by the global
recession; if consumers keep purchasing them as a cheap alternative to traditional
desktops or laptops, some analysts believe the Google Chrome OS could become
more of a thorn in Microsoft's traditional domination of the consumer operating
are] an important sector of the market. I think consumers buying a netbook
aren't looking for a cutdown experience; they're looking for a cheaper
PC," said Michael Silver, an analyst with Gartner. "That makes
[Chrome OS] a long-term competitor to Microsoft; in three to five years they
could become a significant part of the market."
recent announcement, however, is unlikely to force Microsoft to adjust its
Windows 7 rollout strategy. The new operating system, upon which the Redmond,
Wash., company has pinned many of its hopes
following the less-than-spectacular life cycle of Windows Vista, is slated for
release Oct. 22.
would be playing into the Google hype," Silver added. "Microsoft
needs to keep its eye on Windows 7 and make sure it's coming out on time and
that it has great compatibility. Right now there's no product for them to
respond to; it's just an idea."
Microsoft could choose to wait to see how well Google fares in its brave new
world before engaging in some sort of response.
will need to respond in some way. In the best of worlds, it would lose some of
its monopoly pricing capability and be forced to price more
competitively," Roger Kay, an analyst with Endpoint Technologies
Associates, told eWEEK. "But I think Microsoft is going to wait to see
whether this new OS of Google's has any legs."
the instant hype attached to any new Google rollout, the search engine giant
still faces what Kay described as "tough spadework" if it wants to
present itself as a viable alternative, particularly if it tries to expand into
the more high-powered PC market and wrestle with OEM peripheral vendors.
purely cloud- or Web-based relies on an assumption of perfect communications:
fast, ubiquitous and reliable, which still isn't what we have," Kay added.
of this writing, Microsoft had still not offered official comment on Google