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Google to launch own computer OS

updated 07:45 am EDT, Wed July 8, 2009

Google Chrome OS

Google early today staked out its claim in full computer operating systems with word that it would launch its own. Chrome OS is meant "initially" for netbooks and relies solely on web apps; while Linux underneath, all software is just an instance of the Chrome web browser running in a custom windowing system. The approach not only keeps a small app footprint but sandboxes any content to prevent malware attacks from spreading. Importantly, nearly any Chrome OS app should also work in a truly standards-based web browser regardless of platform.

The company argues that systems based on the software should boot quickly and, because apps can be run online, wouldn't need significant amounts of offline storage or regular updating. Google hasn't said how much access apps will have to local hardware.

The OS is optimized both for ARM processors as well as x86 and should reach one or both platforms in the second half of 2010, when both the systems and Chrome OS should ship. More than one PC builder has already signed on to develop for the OS, and there should be "a number" of netbooks just next year, Google says. It expects a certain degree of overlap with Android, which also runs on both platforms and should run on netbooks, but isn't concerned; where Android is intended for mobile devices and runs native apps, Chrome OS' web focus is intended to scale up to full-fledged desktops.

Launching a full computer OS is a potentially dangerous blow to Microsoft. The Windows developer has fought to exclude Linux from netbooks in the past two years and has taken to selling Windows below cost to reduce the price advantage for Linux distributions, which are often free beyond the PC maker's development costs. With Windows 7, Microsoft is hoping to drive prices back up and may add at least $45 to the base cost of a netbook. Google has yet to say whether it will charge for its platform but has so far given Android away for free under certain conditions.

by MacNN Staff



  1. dynsight

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Interesting, but Issues

    That is fine, but what if I need to work on my speech on a plane or train and I don't have Internet access? Is there a local version where I can edit and sync files?

    Maybe apache will be on each computer, and there will be a local version of Google Docs if the network is unavailable. However these apps would need to be updated when the apps are updated, and would google want to have the code hundreds of thousands computers?

    Generally, Google Docs is an acceptable alternative for most people, so this is probably a good thing.

  1. martinX

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Poor BillG

    Poor Microsoft. They can't really match it with OS X on the quality stakes, so they can't charge a premium, now they have to try and go head-to-head with free. There's a big middle ground for them, but for how long will that be theirs alone?

  1. bearcatrp

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Here comes..

    Cloud computing. Dynsight, I would presume you would save a document as a web page so you could work on it until you get web access again. Not sure if I like any company having access to all my data though. Curious how apple feels about there board member bringing on more competition. I thought board members are supposed to promote and look for profits in the company they chair. This will get interesting.

  1. chas_m



    what a terrible idea

    An OS that is functionally crippled if you don't happen to have internet access (or FAST internet access) at that particular moment. This would be about as useful as a laptop with no battery outside the confines of my house.

    And it's not really "their" OS at all, is it? It's a crippled version of Linux doing the heavy lifting!

    Certainly there are some specific tasks for which a cloud-based solution is a good fit, but an entire OS and its apps is really not one of them. I'll wait to see how they work around the obvious problems, but really outside some rich people in metro areas this doesn't sound very practical.

  1. nat

    Joined: Dec 1969



    the future of cloud computing is still to be determined but i have to think it's the way of the future. now we worry about internet connections but gotta believe someday soon it will not be a problem.

    wasn't but a little over 20 years ago that cell phones were about a 3 million dollar a year business. now it's billions and we have mini computers on them and access is pretty darn good.

    so yeah, looking at the way we compute today there's a big list of concerns with this but it's still an interesting idea and i'll enjoy seeing how it plays out.

  1. apple4ever

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Web apps can never replace the usability of native apps. There is a reason developers revolted when Apple said "Meh, you don't need native iPhone apps, just make web apps."

  1. winstef

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Bye Bill

    MS looks more and more like a circled wagon train, its audience narrowing to those who can't choose their OS.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: Poor BillG

    How is this any different than any of the other 'free' OSes out there people have been able to use for years? Just because it has "Google" on it magically makes it better?

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    cloud computing

    The next 'big thing' that everyone migrates to.

    Until some company goes bankrupt and people lose all their 'critical' files. Or, worse yet, company B buys company A and wants you to pay $$$ for your data. Or just decides to open and read them all.

    Or until some inside man (or hacker breaks in) and gains access to the content and uses it in massive identity theft scheme. Or for corporate espionage.

  1. LouZer

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Whenever people get riled up on Microsoft, they start talking about how they use money from Windows to fund business venture X and Z (like the xBox and Zune), which are money losers and sold below cost to steal marketshare and gain market dominance.

    Yet no one mentions that Google is basically taking their one revenue stream (ads, that's it) and using it to try to gain footholds in the browser, mobile device, and now OS worlds, let alone 'cloud computing' and who knows what else.

    And no one seems to care. At least Apple charges for everything in one way or another, and, thus, didn't use Mac profits to prop up the iPod or iPhones, and the iTMS is sustained by itself or through its companion device sales as well.

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