Google Announces Plans for PC Operating System

Posted by: Rob Hof on July 08, 2009

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’s Chrome Web browser, Chrome OS is also Google’s 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’s archrival. Perhaps that’s true, but I’m betting that taking on Microsoft isn’t Google’s main aim here. Instead, I think it’s 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’s chiefly trying to simply make the Web work better.

This isn’t altruism on Google’s part. If the Web works better, people will search more and Google will benefit. Of course, Google doesn’t seem above throwing a monkeywrench into Microsoft’s finely tuned machinery, and maybe that’s part of the point, as it sometimes seems with Google’s software applications business. But Google surely knows it’s 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’s 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’s the gist:


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. …

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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Reader Comments

Another Linux/FreeBSD in disguise?

July 8, 2009 03:09 AM

Unlikely to succeed.

salahuddin

July 8, 2009 03:43 AM

That is a great effort i think and we are tired to use The Microsoft OS.There is need to change actually.Go a head google.

Peter

July 8, 2009 04:10 AM

Goodbye Microsoft! :D

HereAndNow

July 8, 2009 04:18 AM

The tech world is getting more & more exciting, every day. I can't wait to see what the tech landscape looks like, in as little as 2 years from now.

esb

July 8, 2009 04:33 AM

I'm pretty sure I read an article the other day about how Microsoft was working on a browser/OS similar to this, called Gazelle; and a lot of bloggers in the Google camp criticized it. It's interesting to see how their tune changes when Google announces almost the same thing. (insert eye roll)

Michael Livesey’s

July 8, 2009 04:41 AM

Very good move by google.
http://www.expressnetworkbuilder.com

Zordon Sabag

July 8, 2009 04:56 AM

Wowzor! Thats pretty leet!

lancest

July 8, 2009 05:02 AM

Hot stuff. I knew sth like this was coming. Kudo's to Google and Open Source.
I'll be using Chrome OS (or Ubuntu) on all my machines. Open Source only for my web lifestyle. Linux user forever.

Constant Comfort

July 8, 2009 05:04 AM

"Instead, I think it’s 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’s chiefly trying to simply make the Web work better."

Logical if you are a corporate Pollyanna, keen to see past Google's billions to the dear, sweet heart that beats below.

To the rest of us it is obviously a strike on Microsoft.

BT Onedem

July 8, 2009 05:08 AM

Besides emails, calendar, sms(?)..., there are still things that Google aren't supposed to know. With Google OS, there's nothing Google CAN'T know.

Satish K

July 8, 2009 05:10 AM

Thanks for Acting on this need MS wants to always package to sell, Google will remove this bottle neck so that my Mom can push a button and log the net in search of a recipe ..Thank your Google for Good food.

Satish K

Mutu

July 8, 2009 05:29 AM

WoW!
nice plan, i am a big fun of Google Chrome now i gonna use Google Chrome Operating System!!!!!!!
coollllllllll!
i will be waiting for you, Google Chrome.

Jeremy

July 8, 2009 05:52 AM

Exciting news indeed - I'll just have to boost my level of patience until mid-2010, can hardly wait.

bpw

July 8, 2009 06:00 AM

Maybe now Steve Ballmer isn't the only one at Microsoft throwing chairs.

Yeah Bro!

July 8, 2009 06:41 AM

You're an idiot. Google wants to make the net work better? Can we get someone who graduated Jr. High to write these articles? PLEASE?

GOOGLE'S ULTIMATE GOAL IS TO HAVE A MONOPOLY AND GO DOWN IN THE HISTORY BOOKS. DUH!

OK, I'm kidding... but I'm serious.

M$

July 8, 2009 06:48 AM

Linux is the only way to go.It works on line or off line.It doesn't have viruses,most hardware configures automatically.It just works.You have to learn how to use it and if you are too lazy or too dumb,then you will be stuck with Microsoft's garbage or Apple's rip offs or Google's inherent web based restrictions.

gaetano marano - ghostNASA.com

July 8, 2009 07:04 AM

---
I've already predicted the GoOS (and posted everywhere on the web) TEN MONTHS AGO!!!
---
http://newgoos.blogspot.com/2008/09/goos-screenshot-on-sony-vaio.html
---

Thyaga (on twitter)

July 8, 2009 07:16 AM

Microsoft must takes this seriously and innovate quickly around their business model. This not one of those fake threats. Google mean business ($) and they have a good vision. They have already demonstrated their execution capabilities.

Sam

July 8, 2009 08:26 AM

Just what we need, more useless advertising built into the OS, advertising on our browser, desktop, email IM, etc etc.

Google is a monopoly based on advertising and needs to go away.

DJ Railroad

July 8, 2009 08:32 AM

Well, judging by Google's highly cloaked, difficult to access customer service, we would say that Google is "well-equipped" to compete on at least an even par with Microsoft.

But then, I'm confident that Google will also come up with support service for it's products (new O.S.?) that we will also have the "opportunity" to pay additional for.

Justin Brock - twitter.com/justinbrock

July 8, 2009 09:30 AM

This is just an indication that Google is getting increasingly distracted. The further away from their advertising core they get, the more vulnerable they will be to attack from a competitor. Hypothetical future: Google Chrome OS replaces Windows and Bing replaces Google. Who wins???

Google should spend more of its time trying NOT to compete with Microsoft.

Diesel

July 8, 2009 09:58 AM

Well hopefully Chrome OS won't go the way of Google itself and create a stored CACHE of computer activity, or secretly submit your web activity for "anonymous" analysis of keywords to better provide relevant advertising. I can only imagine what would happen if Chrome OS comes in a "free" version.

Stephen Inocencio

July 8, 2009 10:07 AM

The market has seen a clear demand for mobile computing and this has grown dramatically over the past seven years. Maturities in mobile devices such as BB and WM5/6 have enabled solutions to the SMB and enterprises space but we are embarking on a new extension of "how" we work. The methodology that work is something you do and not a place you go, has really come to life. Case in point: You can take a laptop with an air card, run Google Apps, store your data in the cloud (Google or Microsoft’s skydive), secure your data files with encryption and you can work from just about anywhere you get wifi signal. Add the tethering feature from your WM5/6 or BB device and you get redundancy for internet access when wifi is not available.
HP increased our ability to do this with the NetBook. Google is taking it to the next level with their new OS.
Sure it makes sense, the demand is there, software licensing will change as we know it and it aligns with cloud computing and storage services, all at a lower TCO and price entry point. I don’t see this as an assault on Microsoft, rather an offering of a simplified service to address the demands of a changing market who demands the ability to work anywhere using easy to use services and familiar style applications that users do not have to support, update, install, configure, etc. All of this offered in a familiar easy to use interface…your web browser.

Kristiane Cyrus

July 8, 2009 10:22 AM

Maybe it's time for Steve Ballmer to jump ship to Google and do his signature monkey dance in attempt to promote Google Chrome OS :)

"Oohhh I love Google!"

L Swinford

July 8, 2009 10:35 AM

I can't wait to jump ship from the MS dominated world. When I used Chrome it was mostly good, much faster. When I use Opera it was also faster, going places Chrome couldn't, but still problem places. The problems weren't Chrome or Opera, it was the Microsoft environment. Even Mozilla's good product seems slow compared to those two, but much better than IE. There was a time when the world marched to the beat of IBM's drum, but then Microsoft became the mover. Google seems most likely to take the next lead and I'm happy with it.

Orville Mars

July 8, 2009 11:28 AM

Looks like pretty desperate move by Google to start finally MAKING some MONEY. All previous “non competitive” moves like YouTube failed. Goolglophone is the worst piece of electronics I ever have in my hands and as I understand bring no money flow to Google. NEW OPERATING SYSTEM “…running within a new windowing system on top of a Linux kernel” is NOT a NEW OS. It’s a new GUI. So… let’s start new (maybe last for Google) round of Gorilla vs. Godzilla rumble begins. Google investors beware!!! General public will be ready to pickup deeply discounted Netbooks with Chrome OS to install “another” OS.

Meridian Multinational

July 8, 2009 11:39 AM

Its events like this that force Microsoft to actually improve its crappy products so that its leaders can maintain their feelings of superiority in the software world.

Unfortunately, Microsoft approaches software improvements the same way American car companies approach improvements: namely, let the competition create the innovation and then copy it (poorly) three years later.

Otherwise, every PC would probably be running DOS 12.5 and we would still be typing "c:\autoexec.bat" to boot our computers.

billdng

July 8, 2009 11:57 AM

oh,that sounds good. google OS...

Chris

July 8, 2009 12:02 PM

Google is an evil, monsterously powerful multi-national mega corporation that tracks your every online activity, peddles this information to anybody willing to pay for it and had publicly stated it wants to control peoples lives, the news & information they receive and eventually, the world. No, I am not kidding.

I think I will pass on their "operating system".

Fantastic News

July 8, 2009 12:04 PM

Google will have a winner if its OS is more secure, more reliable, and faster loading than the bloated, crash-prone Windows. At least, Google's product might get Microsoft to really improve its Windows OS instead selling defective versions requiring continuous updates and upgrades.

bango

July 8, 2009 12:14 PM

I have listened this story last 15 years - Microsoft will be dead till next year.Yet it is still alive and turning record profits.

BG

July 8, 2009 12:16 PM

Greate JOB Unix or Windows

http://www.sofartravel.co.th
http://www.centrino-online.com
http://www.bi-ad.com

Erik Scanlan

July 8, 2009 12:26 PM

Very smart move. The future is evolving towards Software as a Service (Saas) and its been obvious that Google and companies like Salesforce have been pushing the issue. The future is having your data stored within data center infrastructure and running your apps from the "clouds." I am already working in that direction and I suggest everyone else that this makes sense to starts now so they are not left behind in the business world.

Erik Scanlan
www.dialtel.com

JohnB

July 8, 2009 12:26 PM

Several issues come to mind here. First, what is the role of an OS? Yes, its to run apps on. But it is also the primary interface to the hardware. Both the iPod and iPhone have OSes, as do other mobile devices. The iPhone created an innovative new class of hardware support, namely multi-touch. So, the OS is NOT just simply an avenue for running apps built for the web. This new Google Chrome OS needs to leverage the basic Linux kernel to operate, but its got a hell of a job on its hands creating all of the device drivers etc. needed for all the different types of PC hardware out there. Soem of this is standard/commodity type, but much is not. If you look at the Mac, its a Unix-based OS with a graphical engine grafted onto it. Thats job one. Android isn't there yet, and supports precisely one piece of hardware. There's still confusion as regards what Google intend for this; I'll bet Acer are none too pleased this has been announced when they are bringing out an Android-based netbook later this year. They state that Chrome is not the same as Andriod. MS did manage to get all the netbook makers to convert over to Windows from their individually-developed Linux based offerings. Maybe Chrome is needed to get all the developers and hardware makers pulling in the same direction and to get some scale, but that's a big ask. MS will eventually respond with something better targeted than what they have now and they've got more assets and resources at their disposal than Google have.

FixerDave

July 8, 2009 12:33 PM

What this will mean is that PC makers will finally be able to break the MS monopoly on the OS for new PC sales. This is one of the primary reasons we're saddled with crap like Vista.

Yes, manufactures could put another flavour of Linux on, but people aren't buying it enough. But, slap a recognisable label like 'Google', coupled with a high-profile advertising campaign, and, well, the regular folk will think it's okay. The manufacturers are the key... netbooks now, then cheap desktops, then...

Me, I'll only do Windows when they pay me, and I get paid well. At home, no way; not even worth stealing as far as I'm concerned.

Evangeline La Morte

July 8, 2009 12:51 PM

i dont know mcuh about comptuers but what i do know is that microsoft will never leave the field willingly. They'll go kicking and screaming, good luck google but i doubt you'll out run them.

fahad

July 8, 2009 01:14 PM

great now i am sure that ms will become history

Nate

July 8, 2009 01:26 PM

Android was a disappointment, Chrome browser was mediocre at best. Hence I don't have high expectations from Chrome OS be. Google is losing it's steam. Apple really is the only player that can challenge Microsoft. I would curious though how Chrome shapes up.

DC

July 8, 2009 02:00 PM

I use Gmail, Chrome, and iGoogle as my homepage, but I'd be weary of a Google OS for a desktop. Mobile phone/Net PC maybe. The stagnant Microsoft OS's do have to go. Hopefully Windows 7 will be good enough that I can gently place XP into its coffin, but I won't be touching Vista.

The main questions I have: Is there really room for 3 dominant OS's in the marketplace and how would that complicate everything for the end users?

toni

July 8, 2009 02:00 PM

This is too interesting. Microsoft needs some real competition and Google is the one to do it. I would love to see them create a new operating system. I'm glad someone is stepping up to the plate.
sony vaio mini laptop
sony mini laptop

Rob

July 8, 2009 02:31 PM

Android v2 is much more solid than the initial launch. It is also very flexible. I am looking to Google OS. I am not planning to lose my macbook pro with osx anytime soon.

Rob
www.buzzcal.com

Dwayne

July 8, 2009 03:35 PM

Let me see - tightly integrating a browser with an operating system... I believe everyone has already 'agreed' that stifles competition and freedom of choice. Google must offer an OS independent of the browser or allow Internet Explorer or browser of choice to be installed instead. EU to rule shortly.

wbaltzley

July 8, 2009 03:43 PM

Google and Microsoft are both giant corporations which control enough market share to be considered monopolies. It is in their best interest to expand into each others' back yard so that they can claim each other as a competitor. No competition == Anti-Trust Suit.

However, this IS a major development that will be noted in the annals of computer history. Linux has been slowly gaining ground over the past decade, but it has not been able to get enough support to break the MS Monopoly. Manufacturers and Software companies do not want to support an OS that has less than 1% market share, and customers do not want an OS that is not supported. Now, enter Google.

Because Google is a MAJOR player, and has built tons of goodwill, they can influence the hardware and software companies to jump on the Linux bandwagon. They can take advantage of the pressure that the open source community has been building for the past decade, and push it past the tipping point. As more and more people start using Linux, it creates a snowball effect with surprising results.

Provided the OS works well and provides support for WinXP-based programs, a Google supported version of Linux could eat away 10-20% marketshare within a few years. After that, it will most likely become a heated battle between the two giants--similar to the rivalry between AMD and Intel in the processor market.

I do not think this is the end of Microsoft, but it could signal the beginning of a new era...

human voice

July 8, 2009 04:20 PM

Doesn't make any sense why they shudn't support Linux flavors with improved UI/usability ?? I'm pretty sure they modify Linux Kernel like they did for android and call it their OS

Google is no more a information sharing company, its more of stealing company and trying to be greedy and grab all markets with their money power..

Google is a open source Microsoft/Oracle

All Together

July 8, 2009 05:13 PM

Hmmmm,that would make all of my current programs obsolete yes? Maybe I'm missing something here??? It's taken years for programmers to make compatible programs that work with Apple's OSX. I still can't find some programs today for my Apple. Cloud computing is fine, but I don't always want to start up my internet browser or store my stuff online. What if Google decided to lock me out of the Cloud and I don't have any programs installed on my hard drive? I'd be screwed!!! I'm all for competition but trying to reboot the entire software community is a bit ambitious and presumptive on Google's part, don't you think? "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." Really Google, are people that lazy today, what if they get so lazy, they don't even want to start their browser? Are you creating an Everlasting Gobstopper Google Battery too, so you never have to turn off your computer? I personally still don't see a lot of big business deals going down VIA Twitter or email, in my world, it's still face to face to get the business, so fast email is not so important. IMHO

Romeo

July 8, 2009 05:27 PM

Fact of the matter is... Competition brings innovation. Microsoft lacks a strong competitor so really it has no motivation to do better. GNU/Linux has always been in the shadow but as of late it's been popping its little head stating its presence. point? Microsoft makes horrid software and an alternative is needed for the average Joe if not this project another will come along and for fill that need. As someone said earlier... I'd like to see the technology landscape in two years.

bob

July 8, 2009 05:38 PM

Competition is excellent for the tech industry, we dont want bill to have all of the fun.

mattm681

July 8, 2009 05:48 PM

for all those who say google is just trying to have a monopoly over everything- well whats MS? they are the most widely used. id like to have a new operating system and if they have the means to get us one that works and is compatible with our stuff then why the hell not?

Squeezebox

July 8, 2009 05:51 PM

Folks, you're missing the obvious. This is nothing more than a greenmail attempt by Google against Microsoft. Mr Softy will make a nice, juicy tender offer for Google before you know it!

Squeezebox

July 8, 2009 05:51 PM

Folks, you're missing the obvious. This is nothing more than a greenmail attempt by Google against Microsoft. Mr Softy will make a nice, juicy tender offer for Google before you know it!

Rodman

July 8, 2009 06:22 PM

"All Together" hit it on the head! Careful what you wish for folks. I can easily imagine a world where we all remembered the good ol' days when you actually had control of your operating system. Think about it...

DanTe

July 8, 2009 07:04 PM

I love all the Microsoft haters here. They "just can't wait to dump Windows". HA! If they couldn't wait, why didn't they just install Linux a long time ago? Instead of waiting for a Google snooping version of Linux? These twits have got to be BORN stupid. Nobody can possibly be working that hard at being that stupid. Just too much work.

Shyaam Deshmukh

July 8, 2009 08:12 PM

Nothing new in fact. Ex-Googlers are already game on it and have released such a linux kernel namely the GoS - the Good OS (in beta).

It would be interesting to see what Google comes up with its deep resources both financial and human :)

TJGodel

July 8, 2009 09:51 PM

Leaving aside all the techie debate and Microsoft rivalry claims, Google Chrome OS is about one thing. Expanding use of Internet as a platform, yes to make the web work better as Rob Hof has correctly stated.

Google growth depends on expanding quantity and quality of the Web user experiences. On way for Google to grow is to increase the number of web users by offering the Chrome OS as a perfect partner for very cheap netbook hardware. These cheap netbooks with the Google branded OS will expand computing in developing countries Brazil, Russia, India and China. Some people may remember the laudable goal of a non-profit called "one laptop per child", well if Google has it way it maybe one per household in developing countries. For the really work their needs to be wireless Internet access, which I'm sure Google will address over time.

In developing countries Microsoft has been battling piracy and trying to hold off adopt of Linux a free OS. Microsoft wants to be paid for each install of windows, Google wants them to access the Internet on a stable (FREE) browser based OS with access to Google applications and ads. This may force Microsoft to counter with a free OS in developing countries.

Ultimately this will increase the erosion of software pricing business model which Microsoft built it's business.

Arpit Gupta

July 9, 2009 12:40 AM

Hi,
This is really amazing to have such an OS which can be accessed from anywhere,
"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".

This will bring in the era of new generation in technology and virtuality.

Google guys are really awesome at two basic acpects - 1)designing (Simplicity) 2)Quality.

Best of luck from my side.

Deepika

July 9, 2009 10:59 AM

Cheers Guys!!
Good idea
Would be waiting...
Linux,Windows and now google....
will enjoy the experience

licitatii

November 11, 2009 04:47 PM

love to see how the battle will go forward.

licitatii

bani pe net

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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