Last year Google introduced its own web browser, Chrome, and a platform for smart phones, Android. Now the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) reports that by the end of next year it will roll out an operating system to compete with Windows.
Chrome is currently hovering around 2-3% share of the browser market. Android, while enjoying success as the OS of the HTC Dream phone, is still not enjoying anything like the growth numbers of the iPhone after launch.
The new operating system will not be a like-for-like substitute for Windows, at least not initially. It will be targeted for the web-book market, the small laptops that mostly run applications on the internet. In fact, the company is not planning to take on the Herculean task of accommodating the hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) of programs designed for Windows. Instead, it will focus on running online applications such as Google Docs and Evernote.
The idea of targeting online applications in this OS seems reasonable to me; the days of buying a new Microsoft Office Suite every three years are rapidly drawing to a close. And certainly Google has the bully pulpit from which to market the new operating system. What it has to do, though, is overcome people's fear. Who among us has not vapor-locked our PC by making one tiny change that Windows can't swallow? (Apple users, I see that smug smile. Have some pity.)
What this new OS is likely to do is put pricing pressure on Windows, something that is sorely needed. Meanwhile, I'm enjoying my front-row seat for this battle of the computer giants, MSFT vs. GOOG, played out in Bing vs. Google and all the other fields of competition.