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Friday, November 20, 2009
Google Previews Chrome OS

Google's new operating system Chrome OS will be available in next year's holiday shopping season, aimed at low-cost computers.

Google announced the Chromium projects, which include Chromium and Chromium OS, the open-source projects behind the Google Chrome browser and Google Chrome OS, respectively. The company had announced that it had been working on Chrome OS, an open source operating system in July.

The company said that was eager to engage with partners, the open source community and developers. As with the Google Chrome browser, development will be done in the open from this point on. This means the code is free, accessible to anyone and open for contributions. The Chromium OS project includes Google's current code base, user interface experiments and some initial designs for ongoing development.

Google described the project as "a fundamentally different model of computing." And that because 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.

Second, because all apps live within the browser, there are significant benefits to security. Unlike traditional operating systems, Chrome OS doesn't trust the applications users run. Each app is contained within a security sandbox making it harder for malware and viruses to infect a computer. Furthermore, Chrome OS barely trusts itself. Every time a user restart a computer the operating system verifies the integrity of its code. If a system has been compromised, it is designed to fix itself with a reboot. While no computer can be made completely secure, Google plans to make life much harder (and less profitable) for the "bad guys." For all those who dig security, read the Chrome OS Security Overview.

Google is also focusing on speed. Every unnecessary process is taken out, optimizing many operations and running everything possible in parallel. This means users will be able to go from turning on the computer to surfing the web in a few seconds. Google is also specifying reference hardware components to create the fastest experience for Google Chrome OS.

Google added that it has benefited hugely from projects like GNU, the Linux Kernel, Moblin, Ubuntu, WebKit and many more.

Google Chrome OS will be ready for consumers this time next year. USers who like building their operating system from source can get involved at

Chrome OS is initially expected to be limited to people looking for inexpensive, lightweight computers designed for Web surfing. None of the so-called "netbooks" running Google's operating system will have a hard drive, and they will need Internet access to run applications.

Suggested retail prices for the Chrome OS computers won't be set until closer to their debut. Google executives, though, indicated the Chrome OS should be in the same $300 to $400 range of other netbooks, even though the company isn't charging manufacturers to use its system.

The computer manufacturers that have expressed an interest in using the Chrome OS include Acer and HP.

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.

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.

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