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Google to launch operating system aimed at shattering Microsoft's Windows

July 8, 2009 |  9:27 am

Google Chrome Taking direct aim at Microsoft's dominance in personal computers, Google last night announced plans to launch an operating system that would compete with Windows and be available to consumers in the second half of 2010.

Dubbed Google Chrome OS, the operating system is designed to work with the company's Chrome Web browser, launched nine months ago and downloaded by 30 million users. Google said the software will be optimized for small, lightweight laptop computers called netbooks, a fast-selling category of inexpensive machines that sell for as little as $250 and are used primarily to surf the Web and check e-mail.

In a blog post announcing the product, Google's vice president of product management, Sundar Pichai, and its engineering director, Linus Upson, said:

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. The user interface is minimal to stay out of your way, and most of the user experience takes place on the web. And as we did for the Google Chrome browser, we are 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.

Google did not say whether it would charge for the software, but references that it would work with the open-source community of developers suggest that the company may make it freely available. Microsoft, on the other hand, charges about $200 for each copy of its Windows Vista operating system.

"The release of an operating system is just another part of Google's strategy to more rapidly and cheaply spread access to the Internet via a multitude of different devices -- desktops, netbooks, mobile phones, set top boxes, etc.," Ben Schachter, an analyst with Broadpoint AmTech, wrote in a note this morning to investors.

Schachter said Google wants to eventually lure businesses away from Microsoft's Windows operating system towards so-called cloud computing, in which businesses can use lightweight computers to access applications and data that are managed via large data centers and served over the Web.

"Longer term, Google hopes a free operating system may encourage more small and medium-sized businesses to move towards an enterprise software solution in the 'cloud' and away from Microsoft," Schachter said.

-- Alex Pham

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