Google OS to launch within a year

15:52, November 20, 2009      

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Google announced on Thursday that its much anticipated operating system will launch in one year.

The web browser-based operating system, Chrome OS, will be free and targeted at netbooks. Still in development, Google open-sourced the code on Wednesday, allowing anyone to test and customize it. When Chrome OS launches, it will only be available on new netbooks with hardware Google has certified, according to Sundar Pichai, vice president of product management.

"We are completely going to be developing this in the open from now on," said Pichai, who spoke at a webcast news conference Wednesday at Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California.

Chrome OS is an entirely new approach to computing. The average computer user spends most of the time on the Internet, so Google wants to cut out the middleman, the traditional operating system, which sits between a computer's hardware and a web browser. Essentially Chrome OS is Google's current browser, Chrome, reinforced with systems for browsing files, connecting devices, printing documents and keeping the computer secure.

While Google know that they are unlikely to unseat Microsoft from their dominant position on the desktop, the company does not need to. To Google the world is the Internet, or the Cloud as it is often referred to. One example is the new Google Maps application with turn-by-turn navigation that Google is testing in the USA. To access the maps and obtain navigation information the phone, running Google Maps, needs to be connected to the Internet and receive information live from Google. Previously Satellite Navigation systems used the maps stored in their internal memory but with Google's Sat-Nav application this is no longer the case.

For Chrome OS connection to the Cloud is the most important feature. This means that Google is aiming this OS squarely at netbooks and Internet Tablets which must have WiFi and possible 3G connectivity. Chrome OS will support the ARM family of processors as well as processors like Intel's Atom. These are said to be the natural choices for mobile Internet devices.

In the online world searching for information, checking email, catching up on the news, shopping or just staying in touch with friends isn't dependant on the operating system. It is more reliant on the applications used to connect to the Internet. In the world of Google, GMail is used for email, Google is used for searching, documents are created and shared with Google Docs, planned events and itineraries are updated and shared in Google Calendar and pictures may be edited and shared through Google's Picasa. In the coming months Google Wave also looks set to become an important collaborative tool for business.

On the official Google blog the company says, “It's all about the web. All apps are web apps. The entire experience takes place within the browser and there are no conventional desktop applications. This means users do not have to deal with installing, managing and updating programs."

Google says that security will be enhanced by using its new operating system. "Unlike traditional operating systems, Chrome OS doesn't trust the applications you run. Each app is contained within a security sandbox making it harder for malware and viruses to infect your computer," the statement on its blog reads.

Speed is also cited as of being an advantage. "We are taking out every unnecessary process, optimizing many operations and running everything possible in parallel. This means you can go from turning on the computer to surfing the web in a few seconds," Google says, "Our obsession with speed goes all the way down to the metal. We are specifying reference hardware components to create the fastest experience for Google Chrome OS.”

The actual browser used, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari or Chrome is effectively irrelevant. In the same way Google established an Open Handset Alliance, the company has signed up several hardware manufacturers who are working with them to create netbooks where the keyword in netbook is “net”. Among others, these companies include Acer, Adobe, ASUS, Freescale, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments and Toshiba.

While Windows and Apple's OS X will remain dominant on the desktop, many Internet savvy users may will run Google Chrome OS on their devices in the future.

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