Google (GOOG) says it will create its own PC operating system. The first reaction to the news is that it is a threat to Microsoft (MSFT) Windows. That is almost certainly not the case.
A lot of the Google Chrome OS will run on the Internet, using Google servers and not PC hard drives. Relatively new PCs have a lot of computing power, so that is not an advantage.
According to the search company, “Google Chrome running within a new windowing system on top of a Linux kernel.” Linux has been attempting on its own to challenge Windows. It has not worked, even after years of effort. Microsoft devotes thousand of full-time employees to building and maintaining Windows. Linux and Google will leave most of this work to outside developers. People who don’t work for Google are not likely to do all the things that the company may want or need to build a complete PC system.
Windows has a huge number of advantages over any competing product. It works on virtually all computers. It is meant to accommodate dozens of PC accessories like printers. IT departments know how to support it.
Google is also up against the Apple (AAPL) operating system, Safari, which operates both on Macs and PCs. It has taken years to develop, with Apple employees and not outsiders doing the work.
Google’s first target for Chrome will be low-end netbooks, the same target that Linux has. Microsoft is likely to offer cut-rate versions of Windows for netbooks to keep their cost of ownership down. It is hard to see how the Google initiative works as it comes to a crowded market late and with so little to offer.
Douglas A. McIntyre
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