Google's Chrome OS poses long-term threat to Microsoft

But it will be 'years and years' until it competes with Windows, say analysts

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Even so, everyone should just step back a moment, cautioned Cherry. "While Google wants to move very, very quickly, there's a couple of things that jumped out at me, and have me worried," Cherry said.

"We didn't get to where we are with Windows because Microsoft set out to build a slow, massive operating system," he said. "They kept adding functionality."

The same will happen to Google, he predicted. "What Google will face is application developers who say, 'Here's what we'd like to do,' and Google will realize that their OS doesn't support that. And then they'll expose an API or add functionality. And lo and behold, it's a little bigger."

More troubling, Cherry said, is Google's promise that its OS would be security worry-free.

Pichai and Upson did make some brash claims on that front. "As we did for the Google Chrome browser, we are going back to the basics and completely redesigning the underlying security architecture of the OS so that users don't have to deal with viruses, malware and security updates," they said. "It should just work," they added, stealing a phrase Mac users often spout.

"That's just wishful thinking," said Cherry. "Any OS that's capable of doing something can be exploited."

Microsoft did not respond to a request for comment on Google's announcement.

That didn't stop Cherry from giving the company a bit of advice. "Microsoft has to deliver on the promises it's made, including Windows 7. More importantly, it has to deliver on the work that's being done under the general heading of Azure," he said, referring to the company's cloud-based version of its operating system. "Deliver on that and on Office Web," Cherry advised.

Rumors circulated today that Microsoft will make major announcements revolving around both Azure and Office Web next Monday when it kicks off its annual Worldwide Partner Conference in New Orleans.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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