Google OS Could Power Netbooks

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Microsoft's biggest operating system competitor may not be Apple or Linux. Instead, a possible Google operating system based on its Android OS for mobile phones may power netbooks. If that's the case, the Google OS could take a serious bite out of Windows.

In the last month or two, there's been a lot of buzz in the blogosphere about a possible Google OS powering netbooks. It started back when Net Applications reported that a full third of Google employees appeared to be running an operating system whose identity is hidden from traffic monitors.

Given that Net Applications can monitor pretty much every known operating system, the rumors began to fly: The operating system was an internally developed Google one. And because Google has an operating system for phones, called Android, the rumor mill had it that the operating system would be based on Android.

If Google were developing an operating system based on Android, netbooks would be the logical target. They require a lightweight operating system, which an Android-based operating system would be. In addition, netbooks are the fastest-growing segment of the PC market, so it could immediately boost a new OS's market share. And netbooks, of course, are mainly used for accessing the Internet and cloud-based services --- and Google has many of them, including Google Docs and GMail, among many others.

This isn't far-fetched at all. In fact, two writers on the Venture Beat blog report that they were able to compile Android to run on an Asus netbook in only four hours.

Clearly, then, it's technologically feasible. And it certainly makes business sense. So I wouldn't be surprised to see a Google OS built for netbooks. And I also wouldn't be surprised to see it announced just at the time that Windows 7 ships, which is designed to work on netbooks. That would be one of Microsoft's worst nightmares.

This story, "Google OS Could Power Netbooks" was originally published by Computerworld.

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