A very interesting and potentially significant post on the Google blog today.
So today, we’re announcing a new project that’s a natural extension of Google Chrome — the Google Chrome Operating System. It’s our attempt to re-think what operating systems should be.
Google Chrome OS is an open source, lightweight operating system that will initially be targeted at netbooks. Later this year we will open-source its code, and netbooks running Google Chrome OS will be available for consumers in the second half of 2010. Because we’re already talking to partners about the project, and we’ll soon be working with the open source community, we wanted to share our vision now so everyone understands what we are trying to achieve.
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.
If they can pull this off, it may pose a significant challenge to Microsoft. Netbooks changed the landscape of mobile computing forcing Microsoft to extend the shelf life of Windows XP. Vista is too resource hungry to run on netbooks and if Microsoft didn’t offer XP, manufacturers will be forced to move to Linux. In the short time netbooks have been on the market, Microsoft has captured a 70% market share. Linux netbooks are returned 4x more often than Windows XP netbooks. I’ll be interesting to see if Google can distribute a version of Linux users will accept.