Google announces netbook-bound Chrome OS

Just when rumors about a Google operating system were beginning to die down, guess what Google has announced? Indeed, the company plans to compete with Microsoft in the x86 OS arena with Chrome OS, an "open source, lightweight operating system that will initially be targeted at netbooks."

The idea behind Chrome OS seems both straightforward and radical: a Linux kernel, a "new windowing system" running on top of it, and the Google Chrome browser running on top of all that. Google says developers will write Chrome OS applications using web technologies, and those apps will be cross-compatible with Windows, Mac OS X, and vanilla Linux distributions, where they'll simply run in "any standards-based browser."

Google also claims to be designing the operating system to "start up and get you onto the web in a few seconds," and it's "redesigning the underlying security architecture of the OS so that users don't have to deal with viruses, malware and security updates." Bold ambitions.

The first commercial netbooks running Chrome OS should hit the market in the second half of next year. Google says it's working with "multiple" PC vendors on that front. The firm also intends to release the source code later this year, so developers might get to try out the new OS before too long.

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