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Google Chrome OS highlights Windows' web weakness

Warwick Ashford

Google has announced it is developing a computer operating system that is fast, simple and secure, in a direct challenge to Microsoft.

In these and other ways, the planned Google Chrome OS takes aim at the weaknesses of Microsoft's Windows operating system found on most PCs around the world.

Analysts say the move is likely to increase the intense competition between Google and Microsoft in applications and internet search.

With Chrome OS, Google has taken the competition to Microsoft's key operating systems market and plans to put on the pressure by initially targeting mainly netbook users.

The increasing popularity of netbooks has started to challenge Microsoft's dominance, with many using the more lightweight and lower-cost open source Linux-based operating systems.

Microsoft is clearly aware that it is losing out in this sector, and has attempted to counter the trend by offering Windows XP at a lower price to netbook users.

But Google's coming Chrome OS is not only open source and lightweight, it is also designed specifically for netbook users "who live on the web", according to Google.

This fits in with Google's belief that web-based applications, like its Google Apps, will eventually replace traditional software.

Chrome OS, therefore, will not be confined to netbooks, but is also being designed to run of fully fledged desktop PCs.

In a thinly veiled reference to Microsoft, Google says the operating systems that browsers currently run on were designed in an era where there was no web.

In what Google describes as a "rethink of what operating systems should be", Chrome OS is being optimised for web-based applications.

Google says Chrome OS is designed with to start up quickly and get users onto the web in a few seconds and will have a minimal user interface to allow more screen room for web applications.

Security is another area where Chrome OS is being designed to challenge Windows, which despite Microsoft's efforts, is a popular target for cybercriminals.

According to Sundar Pichai, vice-president of product management, and Linus Upson, engineering director at Google, security is a top priority for Chrome OS.

"We are going back to the basics and completely redesigning the underlying security architecture of the OS so that users don't have to deal with viruses, malware and security updates," they say.

Google Chrome OS is also based on the Linux kernel, which is widely considered to be inherently more secure than Windows.

Google plans to open-source the operating system later this year and expects netbooks running Google Chrome OS will be available in the second half of 2010.

Analysts say Google's announcement may cool demand for Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system, which is due to be released later this year, with some users likely to wait for Chrome OS before deciding whether to upgrade.


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