In an effort to take on the core of Microsoft’s business, Google is launching its own operating system.
The company announced Google Chrome OS on its blog Tuesday night, stating that the the open source operating system will be aimed at so-called Netbooks — cheap and light portable PC laptops that are primarily built for accessing the internet — in the second half of 2010, though the code will be made available for outside software developers later this year.
Its target consumer, the blog post emphasized, is an on-the-go individual who spends most of their time online — though it will still be able to power full-size desktops.
"Speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS," Sundar Pichai, vice president of product management, and Linus Upson, engineering director, said in a company blog. "We’re designing the OS to be fast and lightweight, to start up and get you onto the Web in a few seconds."
Chrome will be a variant of Linux, which is already a popular option among those seeking an alternative to Microsoft and Apple.
Nine months ago, the company released the Google Chrome browser for surfing the web. It was meant to serve as competition to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Mozilla Foundation’s Firefox and Apple’s Safari browsers and has attracted over 30 million users thus far, according to the company.
Google is also emphasizing cloud computing, which allows users to access applications managed by Google’s operations centers served over the Internet.
In other words, in the same way that one might access e-mail through a browser, one’s photos or video files would be stored and available to edit remotely on applications rather than on one’s actual computer — taking the heavy lifting off of the processor. This could help smaller businesses who can’t afford the upfront costs of storing their information in-house.
One of the last operating systems to hit the market was Microsoft’s Vista.
Despite some complaints about its bloated feature set and hardware performance issues, Vista is currently the leader in the market, and Microsoft is releasing its next operating system, Windows 7, later this year. Meanwhile, estimates put Microsoft’s Windows XP currently at 96 percent in Netbooks sold in the U.S. Google is betting on its brand name power to generate trust in consumers and encourage them to switch.
Additionally, the company has already seen support from computer and cellphone manufacturers as well as wireless carriers, which could help its new push. PC makers Hewlett-Packard and Dell have supported Linux software.
Microsoft recently invested in a new search engine upgrade called Bing, which aims to take on Google’s advertising share and far-reaching search capabilities.