Valdes said that to succeed, Chrome OS will have to revitalize the netbook market, which has been slowing down as conventional laptops have become cheaper. It will also be critical for hardware vendors to make a genuine commitment to the Chrome OS and not just use it as a bargaining chip to get better prices on Windows licenses from Microsoft, he added.
Chrome's unveiling came less than six months after Microsoft released its refurbished search engine, Bing, to take on Google's eponymous search tool.
"The war between Microsoft and Google will play out over several years," said Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group Inc. "We won't see an absolute winner or loser, but more trench warfare, with each gaining temporary advantages."
Microsoft downplayed Google's impact on the operating system market, at least for the near term. Chrome OS "appears to be in the early stages of development," a spokeswoman said.
Perez is a reporter for the IDG News Service. Computerworld's Eric Lai and Lucas Mearian contributed to this story.