Google Chrome Makes Microsoft Shine

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Microsoft's ( MSFT) empire suddenly looks more solid than it has in years.

CEO Steve Ballmer told investors at the company's annual meeting that in its debut, Windows 7 operating system has sold twice as fast in the first month as any previous system.

Vista, we hardly knew ya.

Big product debuts are watched very closely, as the Motorola ( MOT) Droid recently proved. Like Verizon ( VZ) with the Droid, Microsoft was mum on actual sales numbers for Windows 7.

The news comes as Google ( GOOG) outlined its plans for its Chrome operating system Thursday.

Once thought to be a bold invasion of Microsoft's Windows franchise, Google Chrome is looking far less threatening today.

Google said early in the discussion that the software is still under development, which immediately crushed hopes that an early version was ready to take out for a spin.

Worse yet, Google says the Chrome OS won't be available for another year, and when it does arrive, it will be loaded on netbook-like devices that will fall far short of actual PCs. Google said it is geared toward people who have another computer at home.

Ouch. Yet another big idea -- like the Apple ( AAPL) Tablet and Amazon's ( AMZN) Kindle -- that falls in a nebulous category somewhere between smartphones and notebooks.

The first Chrome devices will run on flash drives for long battery time and quick startups, Google says. But all applications and files will be located on the network and accessed through the Chrome browser.

Google puts a positive spin on this by pointing out if your device is stolen, you still have your files. But users would point out that if you don't have an Internet connection, or your passwords fail, you really don't have your files.

Google wants you to put your faith in the Internet cloud. Meanwhile Microsoft, which has some Web-based application plans of its own, seems relatively well grounded with programs and files running on your Windows machine.

To be sure, Google's Android mobile phone software seemed nearly as feeble as Chrome does now, when it was still in its planning stage three years ago. That has changed. Last month, Gartner predicted Android would be the No.2 mobile OS in 2012.

For now though, Microsoft is still the master of the PC domain.

-- Written by Scott Moritz in New York.

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