Microsoft is pretty busy stealing search market share from Google with its Bing search engine, but it might do well to keep an eye on its core business. PC maker Acer has announced it will begin shipping a netbook running Google’s Android operating system in the third quarter of this year, opening another front in the battle for market share between the two tech giants.
Historically, Microsoft owned a 90% share of the worldwide operating system market. But the introduction of Android, originally developed as an OS for smartphones, to the netbook market could present a major threat to Microsoft’s bottom line in that sector. Microsoft charges about $20 per netbook for use of its Windows XP operating system. Google charges nothing, making Android an attractive option for netbook makers competing to offer the least expensive option.
Acer’s Netbook, the Aspire One, will run both Android and Windows XP and will allow users to switch between the two. (But this of course begs the question: What will become of Linux?) Microsoft will release Windows 7 around the same time Acer ships the new Aspire One, and a stripped down version of the new OS will be released for netbooks. But some analysts think Microsoft may have to lower the price of Windows 7 to make it competitive with the open-source Android, which device manufacturers can tweak to best suit their devices.
Dell, the world’s second-largest computer maker, plans to offer an Android product in the future and Hewlett Packard has suggested it has similar plans. Chinese computer maker Skytone has an Android netbook in final tests but has yet to announce when it will ship.