Google’s new operating system to take on Windows
Mountain View (California): New Google Inc software will start up a computer as fast as a television, the search company has said as it showed off its Chrome operating system designed for computers that do their work on the Web.
Google gave the world the first peek at its Chrome OS four months after declaring its intention of developing the PC's main software, a move that pits it directly against Microsoft Corp and Apple Inc.
True to Google's Internet-pedigree, the Chrome OS resembles a Web browser more than it does a traditional computer operating system like Microsoft Windows, matching Google's ambition to drive people to the Web -- where they can see Google ads.
Netbooks running Chrome OS will only be able to run Web applications and the user's data will automatically be stored on the Web in the so-called cloud of Internet servers, Google executives said at an event at the company's Mountain View, California headquarters on Thursday.
"It's basically a Web browsing machine," said Altimeter Group analyst Charlene Li.
Google said the software will initially be available by the holiday season of 2010 on low-cost netbooks that use memory chips to store data instead of slower hard drives, the current standard.
Sundar Pichai, vice-president of product management for Google's Chrome OS, said that computers running Chrome OS will be able to start in less than seven seconds.
"From the time you press boot you want it to be like a TV: You turn it on and you should be on the Web using your applications," Pichai said.
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Google said it is giving away the software for free, similar to its Android smartphone software, with the idea that improving the Web experience will ultimately benefit its Internet search advertising business, which generated roughly USD 22 billion in revenue in 2008.
Google made the computer code for the Chrome OS available to outside developers on Thursday, allowing developers to tinker with the software and potentially design new applications to run alongside it.
But the company said Chrome at least initially will not be able to run on just any PC, and executives said they expected that most consumers would get the operating system when they buy a specially-designed netbook.
With Chrome, Google is seeking to challenge the dominance of Microsoft Corp's Windows, which runs on nine out of 10 personal computers.
Google said all data in Chrome will automatically be housed in the so-called cloud, or on external servers, but also cached on the computer's internal hardware to boost performance.
It also said Chrome applications, which are used for such every day tasks such as word processing and email, will be Web-based.
Shares of Mountain View, California-based Google fell 1 percent to USD 570.44 in afternoon trading on the Nasdaq.