Google and Microsoft square off

As has been hard to avoid lately, Google has announced that it's releasing an actual operating system. And for hardware you can build yourself, not just on your phone. Some think this is the battle of the titans we've been expecting for years. I'm... not so sure of that.

What the new Google OS, called Chrome to make it confusing, is under the hood is Linux. They created, "a new windowing system on top of a Linux kernel." This might be a replacement for X-Windows, or it could just be a replacement for Gnome/KDE.

To my mind, this isn't the battle of the titans some think it is. Linux on the net-top has been around for some time. Long enough for a separate distribution to gain some traction (hello Moblin). What google brings to the party that moblin does not is its name. That alone will drive up adoption, regardless of how nice the user experience ends up being.

And finally, this is a distribution aimed at the cheapest (but admittedly fastest growing) segment of the PC market: sub-$500 laptops. Yes, Chrome could further chip away at the Microsoft desktop lock-in, but so far I have yet to see anything about Chrome that could actually do something significant about that. Chrome is far more likely to chip away at the Linux market-share than it is the Windows market-share, since it shares an ecosystem with Linux.

Microsoft is not quaking in its boots about this anouncement. With the release of Android, it was pretty clear that a move like this was very likely. Microsoft itself has admitted that it needs to do better in the, "slow but cheap," hardware space. They're already trying to compete in this space. Chrome will be another salvo from Google, but it won't make a hole below the water-line.