In a direct challenge to Microsoft, Google announced late Tuesday that it is developing an operating system for PCs based on its Chrome Web browser.
The move sharpens the already intense competition between Google and Microsoft, whose Windows operating system controls the basic functions of the vast majority of personal computers.
“Speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS,” the blog post said. “We’re designing the OS to be fast and lightweight, to start up and get you onto the Web in a few seconds.”
Google has long promoted a vision of computing in which applications delivered over the Web play an increasingly central role, replacing software that runs on the desktop. In that world, applications run directly inside an Internet browser, rather than atop an operating system, the traditional software that controls most of the operations of a PC.
Last year, the company released the Chrome browser, which it described as a tool for users to interact with increasingly powerful Web programs, like Gmail and Google Docs, along with Web applications created by other companies. Since then, Google has been adding capabilities to Chrome, like allowing it to run applications even when a user is not connected to the Internet.
New York Times
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.