Google Gives Operating System to Open Source Masses

Dan Berthiaume
Following its July announcement of its new Web-based, open source operating system Chrome OS, Google is now open-sourcing the development of the system in a project known as Chromium OS. The Chrome OS code base, user interface experiments and initial design are now free and accessible to the public.

Although Google does not expect to have a version of Chrome OS ready for consumers until 2010, the operating system is already having a major impact. Google is developing Chrome OS as a completely Web-based system. All applications will be Web applications, meaning everything a user does will be browser-based, eliminating the need to install, manage or update software.

Google is also hyping the security aspects of Chrome OS, saying each application resides in its own 'security sandbox' and the system will verify the integrity of its code each time it restarts, with an automatic reboot if anything seems suspicious. In addition, by running applications in parallel and streamlining processes and operations, Google says it will give Chrome OS users the fastest Internet experience possible.

Essentially, Chrome OS will leverage the capabilities of cloud computing to turn the existing Chrome browser into an operating system that is not burdened with the need to store any data. Cloud computing has already become the norm for business enterprise users. Now Google wants to radically shake things up by making it the norm for consumer use, as well.

With its planned release of Chrome OS, Google is taking on the entire Windows operating system, never mind the Office solution set. And because Google is actually offering a substantially different alternative to Windows, rather than simply duplicating it or open-sourcing its capabilities, it may succeed.

Microsoft is so far enjoying a successful launch of the latest Windows 7 operating system and is pushing its own vision of a Web operating system in the form of Azure. If Chrome OS takes off next year, don't be too surprised if Microsoft looks to the clouds for more inspiration for Windows 8.

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