Google announces plans for operating system

In what is the most eagerly anticipated announcement in computing for many years, search engine giant and emerging IT powerhouse Google has revealed plans for its own operating system.

Google Chrome OS, which bears the same brand name as the company’s browser application, is described as a “lightweight, open source” operating system, based on the Linux kernel.

It will initially be targeted at netbooks, the company said on its official blog yesterday, although full desktop versions will follow. Google is already working with hardware manufacturers, it added, and the devices will be sold with the OS in the second half of 2010.

The announcement was imbued with similar rhetoric that accompanied the recent revelation of messaging system Google Wave; it is, Google says, software designed for the web era.

“Operating systems that browsers [today] run on were designed in an era where there was no web. “Google Chrome Operating System [is] our attempt to rethink what operating systems should be.”

The system is distinct from Android, the mobile operating system with which Google has had some success. “While there are areas where Google Chrome OS and Android overlap, we believe choice will drive innovation for the benefit of everyone, including Google,” the company said.

The news should be welcomed by an IT sector in which limited competition in the operating system space has arguably stifled innovation. While Linux and Apple both provide increasingly palatable alternatives to Microsoft’s Windows OS, the former lacks commercial clout while the latter’s inflexible hardware requirements limit its use in business.  

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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