Google's Chromebook may spell doom for Microsoft, a lumbering, bureaucratic, and non-innovative giant that's only good at one thing: milking the Windows OS.
Simply put, the Windows OS is the backbone of its vast consumer and business empire.
Without it, Microsoft loses not only direct revenues but also crucial competitive advantages in many of its Windows OS-based 'add-on' services.
Before Chromebook, Google already nipped at the outposts of that empire. It challenged Excel, Word, and Powerpoint with Google Docs. Its Gmail and Google Calendar system posed as an alternative to Outlook. Google's program's function to sync, share, and collaborate with multiple users made it a threat Microsoft Exchange Server.
Now, the Chromebook will serve as the platform that ties together all of Google's assault on Microsoft in one product.
The key is that the Chromebook provides enough infrastructure (and support, for business users) on top of the Internet to be a sufficient stand-alone system -- one that can replace the function of the Windows OS for many users.
At its debut, the Chromebook hardware isn't perfect. Common complaints include that it's 'ugly' looking, lacks a webcam, and has bad volume controls. These problems, however, are minor and fixable in later models.
The important milestone is that Google is challenging Microsoft at its core. In the long run, Google's advantage in the online world and its embracing of the Internet could give it enough edge to prevail over Microsoft.