RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – As Google gears up to take on Microsoft with its new Chrome operating system, it will have an ally in Lenovo.

Plus, open source pioneer Bob Young is hailing the release of Chrome. The co-founder of Red Hat says it’s about time.

Lenovo, the world’s No. 4 PC maker which is based in Morrisville, is one of the partners Google disclosed as it continued to roll out news about Chrome on Wednesday.

Red Hat isn’t on the list, but given that Chrome is to be open source like Linux can the Hatters be far behind?

Other partners Google announced are PC makers Hewlett-Packard (No. 1 in global sales) and Acer (No. 3) plus Adobe, Freescale, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments and Toshiba.

In the , Google also assured potential users and partners that Chrome will be open source and “available to use at no cost.”

Young, who now runs Raleigh-based Lulu.com, in Toronto that the Chrome news is welcome. However, he also warned that it’s uses will be limited.

“About time,” he told the newspaper. “Back in 1995 Larry Ellison of Oracle and Scott McNealy of Sun Microsystems jointly announced the netbook. They were only a decade ahead of the technology and the applications, but otherwise their vision was exactly right.

“Google’s chrome project is just more momentum in the direction of devices that are designed to use the applications that exist on the Internet,” he added. But for other uses – well, for now, Young said Microsoft and Apple remain the choices.

Young doesn’t see Chrome as having much of a short-term impact on Microsoft. Longer term, maybe.

“No one will buy a PC to run Chrome,” he said. “Chrome is designed for a new generation of netbook computers. Longer term (next five years) it could hurt.”

As for working with the open source community, Young said Google must do so with respect – or it will fail.

Google’s astounding success with its Android project for mobile devices indicates that the search engine giant has already learned how to do just that.

In its Chrome blog, Google said it soon would welcome input from outside developers.

“Later this year, the Google Chrome OS code will be open sourced,” Sundar Pichai, vice president of product management and Linus Upson, engineering director for Chrome, wrote. “We’re looking forward to working with the open source community and making our own small contribution to the great work being done out there. Please stay tuned.”

By the way, Google is also looking for staff help to further Chrome development. Full-time software engineering jobs are available at five offices in the U.S. as well as internationally.