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Network World - Google's Chrome OS is moving closer to reality, but does Google's new operating system pose any threat to Windows?
Microsoft would surely say no, arguing that Chrome OS is little more than a Web browser, and that users need the richer functionality offered by Windows machines, whether they take the form of laptops, desktops or netbooks.
Also read: Rise of the netbook
But perhaps Chrome OS - designed mainly to run Web applications - is ideal for netbooks, the name of which seems to suggest a device optimized for browsing the Web.
Aberdeen Group research analyst Andrew Borg believes that Chrome OS will have an impact on Windows - "if the emphasis is on the long run. However, I don't think there'll be much impact in the near term. The notion of a cloud-centric operating system vs. a file format-centric operating system does make a lot of sense. But it requires ubiquitous broadband connectivity and widely accessible cloud storage. I don't think we're quite there at the utility or appliance level, which is what you need to replace the Wintel laptop concept."
Google executive Linus Upson, vice president of engineering for Chrome, recently said that 60% of businesses could replace Windows machines with computers running Chrome OS, according to a New York Times article.
But despite Upson's confidence, IDC researchers predict that Windows will retain complete dominance of the netbook market, just as it has done with desktops. Shipments of "mini notebooks," as IDC calls them, will hover around 95% Windows through 2014, IDC predicts. Android, Chrome and Linux will have minimal market share, according to the analyst firm.
Still, things change quickly in the technology world. Google on Tuesday talked up a good game on Chrome OS, saying Acer and Samsung will sell Chrome-based computers worldwide in mid-2011. Acer and Samsung together hold more than 35% of the netbook market, according to Gartner.
Chrome OS netbooks will be encrypted, have Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity, and feature offline access to Google Docs and other applications available on the Chrome Web store. Users won't have to worry about security updates since they will be pushed automatically, and Chrome-based netbooks will get faster over time because of frequent OS updates and a lack of installed applications to slow the hardware down, Google said.