Google Announces Chrome Operating System

Separate from Android, open source, fast and ready to go after netbooks, laptops and desktops.

Whoever thought the news Gmail leaves beta couldn’t be topped today? Think again…

”Google is making a PC operating system.” Taking naming cues from the company’s browser (pictured), it will be called the ‘Chrome OS’ and be based on an ultra lightweight, open source platform.

The initial target will be netbooks with a second half of 2010 launch timeframe. Google is then looking to scale up Chrome OS as a genuine challenger in the laptop and desktop markets. Vitally it will be separate from Android and is “being created for people who spend most of their time on the web”. Whether the news will kill off the clamour for Android netbooks remains to be seen as does both platforms potential cross compatibility.

“Speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS,” said Google engineering director Sundar Pichai on the company’s official blog. “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.”

Interestingly Chrome OS will run on both x86 and ARM chips (hello Tegra!) which should make it instantly popular with the latter group that has long been ignored by Microsoft Windows.

“We hear a lot from our users and their message is clear – computers need to get better,” continued Pichai. “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.”

I have long mooted the idea that with Google Apps, Maps, Docs, Reader, Picassa and more Google has been “maintain is going about building an OS piece by piece in public(that quote is from 2005!) and I have no doubt these services along with Google Gears and HTML5 will be cornerstones of Chrome OS. It may even signal the arrival of the near-mythic GDrive and Google Wave is certainly going to be key. Like Android I expect it to emerge as the roughest of diamonds and with Windows 7 and Mac OS X Snow Leopard presenting fine, fully formed alternatives it will likely take a number of years for Chrome OS to shine.

That said, I suspect a diamond is indeed in there. Apple and Microsoft aren’t likely to sleep well tonight…

Google Chrome OS Blog Post

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