Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer shrugged off Google's planned Chrome Operating System on Tuesday at the company's Worldwide Partner Conference in New Orleans.
He said, "I will be respectful" to laughter from the pro-Microsoft crowd. "Who knows what this thing is?" he added. "To me, the Chrome OS thing is highly interesting."
Ballmer also told the crowd, "they already announced an operating system" in reference to Google's Android portable operating system that currently powers some smartphones and which is expected to appear in netbooks soon.
"I don't know if they can't make up their mind or what the problem is over there, but the last time I checked, you don't need two client operating systems," Ballmer said. "It's good to have one."
Google is aiming its Chrome OS at netbooks in direct competition with Microsoft's dominant Windows operating system. But Ballmer noted, "It won't happen for a year and a half."
The Linux-based, open-source Chrome OS is separate from Android and Microsoft already appears a bit nervous at the potential competition from Google's free offerings. It has announced that some key applications in Microsoft Office 2010 will be free online to counter the growing popularity of Google Apps. Its Bing search engine is also attempting to grab market share from Google and Yahoo.
Unlike Google, Ballmer said, "We don't need a new operating system. What we do need to do is to continue to evolve Windows, Windows applications, (Internet Explorer), the way IE works in totality with Windows, and how we build applications like Office."
He also said Microsoft will continue to target Apple in its advertising and added, "We're going to continue to tell the story of the PC."