As Microsoft launches Bing against Google, the search giant has struck back, straight at Steve Ballmer's heart, announcing a full-blown PC operating system, called Chrome OS, to appear mid-2010.
The move recasts the rivalry between the two companies.
Google is already targetting one of Microsoft's biggest cash cows, Office, with its cloud-friendly Google Apps (free in its ad-supported Standard version, $US50 per user per year in its Premiere corporate version, supported in NZ by Fronde). Now, it's going after the other, Windows.
This just became a death-match.
A Linux-based rival to Windows is nothing new. Microsoft has shrugged them off for years.
But people who would run a mile from Ubuntu know and trust Google as user-friendly.
This is big.
This is nuclear.
Only one company will emerge from this tussle, at least as we know it today.
Certainly, the October 23 release of Windows just got a whole lot more significant. Ditto the 2010 release of Office 14 and Microsoft's companion effort that will see versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint that can run in any web browser, nested inside any OS (so, for example Microsoft Office files could be edited from within Firefox on a Linux PC).
Extra to Android
Although the lightweight ChromeOS shares its focus on netbooks, it is a parallel initiative to the netbook version of Google’s Android OS, which is due on models from Acer and others in October (read Android goes A-List). Dell and HP - the world's largest PC maker - are also experimenting with Google Android.
So far, there is only one model of Android smartphone, the HTC Magic (aka the G2, the follow-up to HTC's G1). But it's early days. Motorola, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and LG, among others, have Android models on the way.
Heavy duty partners
Chrome OS will be capable of running x86 computers. That is, Intel PCs.
It will also be compatible with ARM processors, used in many lower power devices such as smartphones, and the coming all-band 3G species of netbook, the smartbook.
Official partners include Acer, Adobe, Asus, Freescale, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments.
All web, all of the time
The new operating system shares the same name as Google’s web browser, whose interface is designed by a team lead by Kiwi ex-pat Ben Goodger (read NBR interview here).
And the company says ChromeOS will share a lot of Chrome the browser’s traits, including its minimalist interface and speedy performance. The company promises it will boot a laptop, and get you connected to the web, in seconds.
Like Android, which Google is migrating up the device food chain from smartphones to netbooks, ChromeOS will run on a Linux kernel.
But in look and feel, it will be very browser-centric. Essentially, it could make any tradtional desktop OS - bet it Windows or Android - redundant.
Read Google's full announcement here.
And lastly, this just in from our Italian friends at oneComics.it:
Update: Google has announced partners on board "to design and build devices" for the OS include major laptop makers Acer, ASUS, (Acer and ASUS are the no. 1 and no. 2 netbook manufacturers worldwide) Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo, software maker Adobe, and chip manufacturers Freescale, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments.
The only major netbook players missing at this stage are Toshiba and Dell.