Google April 15 introduced Google Cloud Print, a service that lets any application print to any printer from any computing device using Google's cloud computing infrastructure.
Google Cloud Print was designed as a solution for Google's Chrome Operating System, a Web-based operating system that boots up computers in a fraction of the time it takes to start most of today's machines.
The open source-based Chrome OS is intended as an alternative to computers running Microsoft Windows. Google intends Chrome OS to power Web apps on netbooks and other mobile devices, such as tablets.
Google, which intends to use Chrome OS to help extend its cloud and mobile computing efforts, publicly said it did not want to build a bunch of printer drivers for every computing device and operating system.
If not a printer driver, then what was the alternative solution? Google Cloud Print attempts to answers that key question.
Google Product Manager Mike Jazayeri said in a blog post that Google's desire was to build a printing service that would enable Web apps to give users the full printing capabilities that exists in today's native applications.
"Using the one component all major devices and operating systems have in common -- access to the cloud -- today we're introducing some preliminary designs for a project called Google Cloud Print, a service that enables any application (Web, desktop or mobile) on any device to print to any printer," Jazayeri wrote.
To wit, Cloud Print uses Google's cloud infrastructure to Google submit and manage print jobs instead of relying on a local operating system or drivers to print.
Though the service is still under development, Google today released code and documentation as part of the open source Chromium and Chromium OS projects.
Chrome OS is expected on netbooks by November or December of this year and a Google spokesperson told eWEEK the company is on schedule.
While it is unclear whether Chrome OS will appear on netbooks from Acer, Asus, HP and others at that time, the company is certainly experimenting with different form factors.
Chrome OS could appear on tablets to challenge Apple's iPad later this year. However, Google CEO Eric Schmidt reportedly said an Android tablet is in the works. Google has declined to comment on this speculation.
This begs the question: will Google release netbooks, tablets and other mobile devices with Android and Chrome OS? Will they cannibalize each other as they seek to challenge Microsoft and Apple devices? For now, there are more questions than answers.