Google's netbook-friendly Chrome OS takes direct aim at Microsoft, whose 8-year-old Windows XP leads the netbook market. But the odds are stacked against Google.
In competing with Windows, Google Chrome OS will have to deal with many of the same challenges Linux has: compatibility, usability and unfamiliarity. The record isn't good: In the past year, Linux-based netbooks have rapidly lost market share to Microsoft, as people find that Linux doesn't work as expected, may not support the applications or peripherals they're accustomed to using, and is just plain different.
"The propeller-heads or early adopters understood what Linux was about," says Richard Shim, an analyst with IDC, a market research company. "But as netbooks have gone mainstream, users want the apps they are familiar with, rather than the nonstandard ones on Linux."