The Nexus One of laptops?
In the past couple of weeks, Microsoft and Apple (AAPL) have shown off revamped versions of their computing operating systems. Microsoft's Windows 8 (due next year) has a radical interface that resembles its smartphone software and is integrated with Facebook and other Web services. Apple's new Lion version of OS X will link to iPhones and iPads through cloud-based services. Both these operating systems will provide access to the cloud without the big tradeoffs of Chrome, says IDC analyst Al Hilwa. "It seems to me that the Chromebooks are more of a concept," he says. "Google is trying to showcase an ideal of what life might be like if everything depended on the cloud."
The bottom line: Google's simple, inexpensive Chromebook showcases cloud computing—but may be too stripped-down, and late, to go mainstream.