I need to study it some more, but here's my first take on Google's Chrome OS announcement (link). I think what they’re really saying is:
"We want to bleed Microsoft to death, and we've decided that the best way to do that is give away equivalents to their products. By creating a free OS for netbooks (the only part of the PC market that's really growing) we hope to force Microsoft into a Clayton Christensen-style dilemma. It can either cut the price of Windows in order to compete with us, or it can gradually surrender OS share.
"By using Chrome to set a standard for web applications, we also help to make the Windows APIs less relevant. So even if Microsoft manages to hold share in PCs, its OS franchise becomes less and less meaningful over time."
That helps to explain why Google would be pushing both Chrome and Android at the same time. If you're really serious about running a logical OS program in its own right, you'd try to rationalize those two things. But if your top priority is to commoditize Microsoft, then you don't mind pushing out a couple of overlapping initiatives. The more free options, the more pain caused.
The next question we should all ask is whether Chrome-based netbooks will take off. I'm skeptical, especially in the near term. Most people buy netbooks to run PC applications. Linux already failed in the netbook market because it can't run PC apps, and Chrome OS won't run PC applications either.
But in the meantime, Google can put more price pressure on Microsoft, and maybe that's the real point.