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Google Announces Chrome OS

Alas, poor Microsoft. First Google dominates the search engine market. Then Google enters the Web-based e-mail market. Android invades Windows Mobile's turf. And then Google jumps into the browser market with Chrome. Tonight Google has upped the ante yet again with its plans for a new operating system based on Google Chrome.

The new operating system, aptly named Google Chrome OS, will be an open-source operating system initially geared toward netbooks, Google announced in a blog posting late Tuesday evening.

Google claims the new operating system, which should ship on netbooks starting in the second half of next year, will be "lightweight" and heavily Web-centric.

With Chrome OS, Google plans to follow the same formula it used with its browser: "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," Google stated in its announcement. "The user interface is minimal to stay out of your way, and most of the user experience takes place on the web."

Google will also make security a high priority with Chrome. The company notes it will be "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." As you might assume, that is a pretty ambitious goal, considering every current operating system sees its fair share of security flaws and patches.

Chrome OS will run on x86-based PCs, as well as machines built around the ARM processor (such as so-called smartbooks).

So what does this mean for Android? According to Google, Chrome OS is in no way connected to Android, and that while Android was created with smartphones, netbooks, and other devices in mind, Chrome OS "is being created for people who spend most of their time on the web" and will be able to run on practically any PC that meets the minimum requirements, ranging from netbooks on the low-end to high end power desktops.

When Google first introduced the Chrome browser last year, I remarked in my review that "In the past there has been some speculation that Google would develop its own operating system, but I think that Chrome's launch makes one thing is clear: The Web browser is Google's operating system."

While Chrome OS goes beyond being a mere Web browser, Google's vision of the future is as clear with Chrome OS as it was with the introduction of the Chrome browser: The Web is the OS of the future, and a modern OS needs to be built around the Web first. In fact, in the announcement, Google flatly states, "For application developers, the web is the platform." Even better: "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."

So has Google just killed the operating system war? Or is it just getting started? Share your thoughts and post a comment below.

Stay tuned to pcworld.com for more on Chrome OS, and follow us on Twitter @pcworld.

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