Can Google Fill Microsoft's Shoes?

When Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) introduced its Chrome OS a few years ago, fellow Fool Tim Beyers naturally asked, "Can Google Become the New Microsoft?"

It was -- and still is -- a very legitimate question in terms of operating-system ubiquity, something Google is achieving in mobile with Android. The biggest twist to Chrome OS was that it was such a dramatic departure from what most users perceive as a traditional PC operating system, since it was almost entirely cloud-based and amounted to little more than a full-screen Web browser to access the Internet and various Web apps and services.

Here's an official video from Google that lays out Chrome OS for you.

The browser-centric OS was an ambitious attempt to redefine what a consumer OS could be, with the potential to reinvigorate netbook, or Chromebook, sales in the process. Keyword: "was." It now seems as if Big G is realizing that the approach was a little too out of the box, and the latest developer update to Chrome OS shows it looking an awful lot like another traditional OS we're all too familiar with: Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) Windows.

Source: Unofficial Google Operating System Blog. Chrome OS Aura UI update.

Source: Unofficial Google Operating System Blog. Chrome OS Aura UI update.

Chrome OS is now taking on a more traditional windowed interface that the search giant has dubbed Aura, not to be confused with Microsoft's Windows Aero.

Windows isn't the only OS where Chrome OS is taking hints from; it's also borrowing some ideas from Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) OS X. Specifically, its app launcher looks just like Cupertino's Launchpad feature.

Source: Unofficial Google Operating System Blog, Chrome OS (top) vs. OS X (below).

Is Chrome OS what you get if Windows and OS X were to hook up? It's starting to look like that at this point.

Another interesting dynamic of the situation is that Windows is now looking less like, well, Windows; the next major version, Windows 8, primarily adopts the tile-based Metro interface that started with Windows Phone. It will still support the legacy desktop mode, but the software giant is betting big on Metro.

Can Chrome OS be the new Windows as Windows moves away from Windows? Either way, Apple will still hate them both.

It makes sense that Google tried to redefine traditional PC operating systems with a mobile twist, considering the mobile revolution will be the biggest computing revolution in generations. There's plenty of ways to play, but here's a particularly promising one. Get the free report now.

Fool contributor Evan Niu owns shares of Apple, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Check out his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google, Apple, and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Google, Apple, and Microsoft and creating bull call spread positions in Apple and Microsoft. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Read/Post Comments (2) | Recommend This Article (3)

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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On April 12, 2012, at 12:49 AM, funspirit wrote:

    At least s Google is willing to take chances and try things new

  • Report this Comment On April 12, 2012, at 5:18 AM, H3D wrote:


    So give it 1 for enthusiasm. Chrome is still a dog. Assuming continuous Internet connectivity on a notebook is, as you say, trying something new.

    Maybe the next version could be made even more efficient by simply forgetting everything every few minutes.

    Thinking of Maud...

    Or maybe that's a bit too much like the current version.

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