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Google Announces Plans for PC Operating System


Google announced plans late Tuesday night to develop operating software for personal computers, initially the downsized PCs called Netbooks. An outgrowth of the Internet search giant?? Chrome Web browser, Chrome OS is also Google?? most direct challenge yet to Microsoft, whose Windows operating system dominates the PC world. Chrome OS is expected to be available in the second half of next year.

Predictably, and understandably, blogs and other publications are making the case that this is a new, major assault on Google?? archrival. Perhaps that?? true, but I?? betting that taking on Microsoft isn?? Google?? main aim here. Instead, I think it?? logical to accept its longstanding claim that, with projects like this as well as the Chrome browser itself and its Android mobile operating software, it?? chiefly trying to simply make the Web work better.

This isn?? altruism on Google?? part. If the Web works better, people will search more and Google will benefit. Of course, Google doesn?? seem above throwing a monkeywrench into Microsoft?? finely tuned machinery, and maybe that?? part of the point, as it sometimes seems with Google?? software applications business. But Google surely knows it?? not going to knock Microsoft aside anytime soon, if ever. The logic that a better Web helps Google is compelling enough that I think that is indeed the key reason for Google?? seemingly quixotic announcement.

That sentiment is apparent throughout the post (full version after the jump) on the official Google blog by by Sundar Pichai, VP of product management, and Linus Upson, an engineering director. Here?? the gist:

The operating systems that browsers run on were designed in an era where there was no web. So today, we??e announcing a new project that?? a natural extension of Google Chrome ?the Google Chrome Operating System. It’s our attempt to re-think what operating systems should be. …

Speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS. We’re designing the OS to be fast and lightweight, to start up and get you onto the web in a few seconds. The user interface is minimal to stay out of your way, and most of the user experience takes place on the web. And as we did for the Google Chrome browser, we are going back to the basics and completely redesigning the underlying security architecture of the OS so that users don’t have to deal with viruses, malware and security updates. It should just work.

At the same time, it’s hard not to detect a shot at Microsoft as well:

We hear a lot from our users and their message is clear — computers need to get better. People want to get to their email instantly, without wasting time waiting for their computers to boot and browsers to start up. They want their computers to always run as fast as when they first bought them. They want their data to be accessible to them wherever they are and not have to worry about losing their computer or forgetting to back up files. Even more importantly, they don’t want to spend hours configuring their computers to work with every new piece of hardware, or have to worry about constant software updates. And any time our users have a better computing experience, Google benefits as well by having happier users who are more likely to spend time on the Internet.

It’s commendable that Google is trying to advance the state of the art in computing and the Web. The Chrome browser set new standards for speed that no doubt will force others such as Firefox and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer to catch up. But an operating system by nature isn’t nearly as simple to pull off, because it must work with so many variations of PCs and run a wide variety of software without major problems. So here’s another statement from the Google executives that I’ll accept at face value: “We have a lot of work to do.”

Here's the full post:

It's been an exciting nine months since we launched the Google Chrome browser. Already, over 30 million people use it regularly. 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 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. Because we're already talking to partners about the project, and we'll soon be working with the open source community, we wanted to share our vision now so everyone understands what we are trying to achieve.

Speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS. We're designing the OS to be fast and lightweight, to start up and get you onto the web in a few seconds. The user interface is minimal to stay out of your way, and most of the user experience takes place on the web. And as we did for the Google Chrome browser, we are going back to the basics and completely redesigning the underlying security architecture of the OS so that users don't have to deal with viruses, malware and security updates. It should just work.

Google Chrome OS will run on both x86 as well as ARM chips and we are working with multiple OEMs to bring a number of netbooks to market next year. The software architecture is simple — Google Chrome running within a new windowing system on top of a Linux kernel. For application developers, the web is the platform. All web-based applications will automatically work and new applications can be written using your favorite web technologies. And of course, these apps will run not only on Google Chrome OS, but on any standards-based browser on Windows, Mac and Linux thereby giving developers the largest user base of any platform.

Google Chrome OS is a new project, separate from Android. Android was designed from the beginning to work across a variety of devices from phones to set-top boxes to netbooks. Google Chrome OS is being created for people who spend most of their time on the web, and is being designed to power computers ranging from small netbooks to full-size desktop systems. While there are areas where Google Chrome OS and Android overlap, we believe choice will drive innovation for the benefit of everyone, including Google.

We hear a lot from our users and their message is clear — computers need to get better. People want to get to their email instantly, without wasting time waiting for their computers to boot and browsers to start up. They want their computers to always run as fast as when they first bought them. They want their data to be accessible to them wherever they are and not have to worry about losing their computer or forgetting to back up files. Even more importantly, they don't want to spend hours configuring their computers to work with every new piece of hardware, or have to worry about constant software updates. And any time our users have a better computing experience, Google benefits as well by having happier users who are more likely to spend time on the Internet.

We have a lot of work to do, and we're definitely going to need a lot of help from the open source community to accomplish this vision. We're excited for what's to come and we hope you are too. Stay tuned for more updates in the fall and have a great summer.


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