For all the market heft that Google's search delivers, for all of the hype around the Android mobile operating system and Chrome Web browser, the most direct, erstwhile Microsoft killer may have appeared late last night from Google in the form of Chrome OS.
By now you've read the reports, which you can pick through on TechMeme today. Slated for release to open source later this year, Chrome OS is a platform created to better exploit the speed of the Chrome browser and modern Web services.
Google Chrome OS will run within a new windowing system on top of a Linux kernel and will run on x86 as well as ARM chips. Google is working with multiple OEMs to bring a "number of netbooks to market" in the second half of 2010, but the OS will be able to power desktops as well, Google claims.
All Web-based applications will automatically work and new applications can be written for Google Chrome OS, but it will also run on any standards-based browser on Windows, Mac and Linux. Sundar Pichai, vice president of product management, and Linus Upson, engineering director, wrote:
"We hear a lot from our users and their message is clear—computers need to get better. People want to get to their e-mail instantly, without wasting time waiting for their computers to boot and browsers to start up. They want their computers to always run as fast as when they first bought them. They want their data to be accessible to them wherever they are and not have to worry about losing their computer or forgetting to back up files. Even more importantly, they don't want to spend hours configuring their computers to work with every new piece of hardware, or have to worry about constant software updates. And any time our users have a better computing experience, Google benefits as well by having happier users who are more likely to spend time on the Internet."
If that isn't a shot across the bows of every OS maker, I don't know what is. Google is vowing to beat Microsoft, Apple and Linux distributions at their long-time games.
I wrote the other day (picking up where Mark Cuban left off) about why Google is getting into new markets: to find that next big thing to sustain its massive growth.
Is Chrome OS it? I'm still digesting this amazing news, so expect more on this later. Now ... off to the T-Mobile-Google myTouch 3G launch.