Having taken a stab at both the web browsing and mobile phone markets, internet colossus Google has lifted the lid on its next big computing adventure – the Chrome operating system.
Whilst the likes of Apple’s OS X and the open-source Linux engine enjoy a slim but stable share of the OS market, Google’s foray into the sector can realistically be seen as the first serious attempt to rival Windows in the modern era.
In line with Google’s prior commitment to ‘cloud’ computing, Chrome OS is fundamentally a detailed web browser with user’s data being stored on remote servers. The machine running the software is effectively reduced to nothing more than “a cache and accelerator” through which users can access the associated services.
Chrome OS has been designed primarily with netbooks and portable computing in mind – a fact that’s reinforced with news that the software will only work with solid-state memory devices and not hard drive based machines.
“We are trying to offer a choice for users,” Google’s VP of product management Sundar Pichai stated. “This model of computing is fundamentally different. It's very familiar and intuitive to users - most people know how to use the browser.
“There are no conventional desktop applications. That means you don't have to install or update software. It's just a browser – a browser with a few modifications. We want Google Chrome OS to be blazingly fast.”
Traditional applications such as word processors simply run through an additional tab within the browser.
Of course, the single biggest selling point of Chrome OS is that it’s free. Developers are able to download it now with a general release expected some time next year.