Shock of the month? The year, even? Out of absolutely nowhere, Google
--the search engine champ at the moment and the developer of Android
--has announced its first full-fledged operating system. Of course, maybe we shouldn't be so surprised. After all, it's not like Google hasn't been dabbling in applications for awhile now.
In fact, this announcement came just hours after Google removed the "Beta" label
from its entire application suit, Gmail and Gdocs included. The company has also introduced its own browser (Chrome) and its own mobile operating system (Android). Thus, the next logical step is a lightweight OS suited for none other than the netbook.
Call us selfish, but we really (really!) wish this would've surfaced around a year ago. Instead, we've seen netbook after netbook emerge with the exact same specifications due to Microsoft's restrictions on Windows XP-based machines. Had Google introduced Chrome OS last year, we may already be onto the true next-generation of netbooks.
At any rate, we're here now, and we couldn't be more excited. Nine months after launching Chrome, the Google Chrome Operating System has emerged as Google's attempt to "re-think what operating systems should be." Here's how Google describes the system:
"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."
The OS will work fine on both x86 as well as ARM chips, and Google's already working with multiple OEMs to bring a number of netbooks to market next year. As for the software architecture, you're looking at a new windowing system on top of a Linux kernel, with the Web as the platform for developers. Even Google understands that this may eat into sales of Android-based netbooks and UMPCs, but it's hoping to serve multiple market segments with multiple products. Nothing wrong with that!