Thursday, July 9, 2009

Google to launch its own PC operating system

SAN FRANCISCO: Google has plans for its own personal computer operating system, it announced on its blog, setting up another clash between the Internet search giant and PC software supremo Microsoft.

"We're announcing a new project," said the Mountain View, California-based company, revealing the system would be based on its nine-month-old Chrome browser and would be an open source operating system initially targeted at netbooks.

The move is "our attempt to re-think what operating systems should be," Google said in a statement posted late Tuesday.

The search engine giant said it would open-source the code for "Chrome OS" for user input and that netbooks running the system would be available by the middle of next year.

"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 company said.

Google noted that in deciding to embark on the new venture, they took heed of its user messages, namely that "computers need to get better."

People "want their computers to always run as fast as when they first bought them," they want to access the Internet instantly, and they don't want to worry about losing their computer or failing to back-up files, Google said.

"We're definitely going to need a lot of help from the open source community to accomplish this vision," the company added.

The Chrome browser was originally launched last year but has failed to match the spectacular success of Google's search engine.

The company floated its first US television advertisements in recent months for Chrome, as the browser has only captured a tiny share of a market dominated by Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

Microsoft's freshly launched search engine Bing, meanwhile, aimed to hit back at Google's gains in the search market, although it still lags behind its rival.

Web analytics firm StatCounter said last week that Bing had carved out an 8.23 percent share of the US search market in June, up from 7.21 percent in April and 7.81 percent in May.

By contrast, however, Google continued to dominate the search market with a huge 78.48 percent share last month.

Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer has downplayed expectations for the success of Bing, but said the company was committed to challenge Google over the long-term. Google already has an operating system -- Android -- but the company said that while there was some overlap, they were separate entities.

Android is only used for mobile phones at the moment, but the software has showcased Google's keen interest in expanding beyond its search engine base.

"Google Chrome OS is being created for people who spend most of their time on the web, and is being designed to power computers ranging from small netbooks to full-size desktop systems," said the company.

All the web-based applications developed by users, Google said, "can be written using your favorite web technologies" and will not be limited to just its new operating system, but on "any standards-based browser on Windows, Mac and Linux thereby giving developers the largest user base of any platform."

US telecom carrier T-Mobile said last month the latest version of its touch-screen smartphone featuring Android software would be available in August.

As it reaches into the operating system market, the move on the handhelds is being seen as Google's answer in the highly competitive smartphone market to the newly released Apple iPhone 3GS, the Palm Pre and the latest BlackBerrys.

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