Google declares total war on Microsoft, but the main battles are years away

Google Chrome OS is a formidable attack on Microsoft, especially in conjunction with Google Wave, Google Mail, and the rest of Google Apps. But first Google Chrome OS has to actually be made to work ...

Google blogged Tuesday night about a new project, the Google Chrome Operating System. Highlights include:

  • Open source
  • Targeted to appear in netbooks in the second half of 2010
  • Google Chrome browser + new windowing system + Linux kernel
  • Minimal user interface
  • Data stored or at least backed up in the cloud, and hence available on any computer
  • Hardware compatibility hassles allegedly eliminated
  • Ditto for software update hassles
  • Ditto for security problems
  • Apps apparently assumed to run inside the browser. (Not clear if this is required or just recommended.)

As I blogged elsewhere:

Obviously, Google Chrome OS is a direct attack on Microsoft — even more so than Google Wave, which I’ve predicted will “play merry hell with Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SharePoint, and more,” or for that matter than Google Mail and the rest of Google Apps. Taken together, Google’s initiatives suggest that an all-out Google-Microsoft war is coming, in a conflict that many people have been expecting — and analyzingfor years.

... while Google may kill Microsoft’s client business some day, it clearly won’t happen for quite a while, Techcrunch’s excitement notwithstanding. We’re talking a multi-year effort before there’s any realistic chance of Microsoft being toppled. On the other hand, it’s hard to think of major software compatibility issues that won’t quickly be addressed, except Microsoft’s own product and, probably, MMO games — assuming, of course, Chrome OS gets enough initial traction for anybody to care. So intermediate- and long-term, Microsoft’s PC business is very vulnerable indeed.

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