Google revealed that it is working on an operating system that it hopes will change the habits of the PC user. Chrome OS is completely focued on the Internet and the first target is netbooks.

Chrome OS will, according to Google, be an extremely slim operating system that is intended to get the user online, using the Chrome browser, where Google is already more or less in charge. Google says that Chrome OS is its interpretation of how an operating system should work today is of course built on the open source Linux platform.

”We designed Google Chrome for people who live on the web — searching for information, checking email, catching up on the news, shopping or just staying in touch with friends. However, the operating systems that browsers run on were designed in an era where there was no web. So today, we’re announcing a new project that’s a natural extension of Google Chrome — the Google Chrome Operating System. It’s our attempt to re-think what operating systems should be.”

Google’s vision is that everything will go through the Internet and Chrome OS will be more or less a platform for the browser Chrome, from where users can then access applications online through Google Apps or third-party programs. Chrome OS is Linux-based and will be released with source code available for download, and Google hopes that the community will assist in making Chrome OS an even better operating system with new programs and functions.

Google Apps is a vital component of Chrome OS

Chrome OS will be developed for all active platforms today, not just x86 but also ARM that looks to come in strong among netbooks. Even if we can see a close relation to Google’s mobile operating system Android Google claims that Chrome OS is better suited for full-size desktop computers and that the two will be easy to tell apart.

”Google Chrome OS is an open source, lightweight operating system that will initially be targeted at netbooks. Later this year we will open-source its code, and netbooks running Google Chrome OS will be available for consumers in the second half of 2010.”

The user interface of Chrome OS will be optimized for the hardware limited netbook market. It will be minimalistic to makes full use of the small screens and Google says that users will not have to worry about viruses or other harmful code thanks to the design of the operating system.

Since it will boot in just a few seconds Chrome OS will be Google’s way of helping users to get started fast and that it will happen via the Internet. There will not be any support for running applications locally, everything will happen over the Internet, which for long has been Google’s vision.

Our own view on Google’s somewhat surprising announcement is that is trying to turn computers into clients that with the help of a slim operating system that always has quick and easy access to the Internet, wherever you are, and applications and documents. Google already has the base for this with its search engine and not th least its Google Apps, where it has several big applications left the beta stage just recently.

Since the Chrome browser is available for all platforms, Windows, Linux and Mac OS X it has enabled software developers to access a broad user base for their Internet applications. You will not need a computer with Chrome OS to make use of Google’s Internet platform, but you can count on Google trying to steer them there.

Google Chrome in Windows 7

Microsoft has to rethink

Targeting the netbook market feels like the sane thing to do. The netbook concept comes from a cheap computer that is used to get online, but today’s operating systems are heavy and slow on the hardware found in most netbooks, and here a slim operating system would be very useful, if nothing else in dual-boot with Windows.

Speaking of Windows, Chrome OS will be a slight, if not major, nightmare for Microsoft that may be about to watch Google simply luring away users from Windows and instead directly online. Losing market shares with Internet Explorer suddenly became a serious problem when the entire Windows platlform became obsolete.

Of course, Chrome OS is in no way the killer blow to Windows that has an immensely broad software support and above all is the only real gaming platform. Microsoft has had problems to tie up the netbook market with its overambitious operating systems and now Windows 7 can gets some unexpected competition in the form of a superslim operating system, completely free of charge. What Microsoft will do to retaliate against Chrome OS is a bit uncertain, but there has to be something coming.

The first netbooks with Chrome OS should appear within a year, but already this fall Google will release more information.

Google has a powerful base to stand on, but today it is all just empty promises. How Chrome OS will work in practice remains to be seen, but Google’s sense for software makes this one of the more interesting projects in a long time.


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