Google Chrome operating system to challenge Microsoft

Chrome_2D00_logoGoogle, a dominant force in the web world with a long-term vision of converting software users to applications delivered online, announced today it is launching its own computer operating system, Google Chrome OS.

The new operating system, initially to be focused on the exploding netbook not only takes on Microsoft’s in the OS market but also furthers Google’s challenge of Microsoft’s domination in corporate office productivity software.

The announcement of Chrome OS comes nine months after Google launched its Chrome browser, which Google says now has more than 30 million web surfers using it regularly. In an announcement in a post on the company blog Sundar Pichai, Google’s vice president product management and Linus Upson, the company’s engineering director, called the new OS Google’s “attempt to rethink what operating systems should be.”

The post points out that the operating systems that browsers run on were designed in a pre-web era. Google promises a new and utopian era OS where viruses disappear and long waits for systems to crank up are a thing of the past.

“Speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS,” Pichai and Upson say in the post. “We’re designing the OS to be fast and lightweight, to start up and get you onto the web in a few seconds. The user interface is minimal to stay out of your way, and most of the user experience takes place on the web.

“And as we did for the Google Chrome browser, 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.

“It should just work.”
Chrome OS is to be an open source operating system that Google describes as “lightweight.” The company said it will open-source its code later this year and netbooks with the new operating system will be available in the second half of 2010.

“For application developers, the web is the platform,” said the post. “All web-based applications will automatically work and new applications can be written using your favorite web technologies.

“And of course, these apps will run not only on Google Chrome OS, but on any standards-based browser on Windows, Mac and Linux thereby giving developers the largest user base of any platform.”

Google has long been advancing the notion of applications delivered over the web instead of software on computers but it facing a formidable competition with Microsoft in office productivity applications.

Just this week Google dropped the ‘beta’ tag from its Google applications suite, a product that delivers mail, documents, calendaring and other office ware that some businesses, particularly smaller ones are turning to as a replacement for Microsoft’s software.

Vancouver’s Provident Security is one. Founder and CEO Mike Jagger said dropping Microsoft Office in favour of Google apps is saving the company some $60,000 this year in hardware, software and maintenance costs. It is also streamlining applications making them much easier for company employees to use and offering added benefits such ease in uploading videos that can go on a company-only secure site for training and other information purposes.

“We were using Office before and we were using Word, Excel – the big one was the Exchange server and Outlook,” said Jagger. “The original impetus was to move off Outlook.

“Once we started seeing the benefits of having things web-based we started migrating everything over.

“It has had a huge impact. It is so much simpler to administer. ”

Jagger said along with the software and server costs, there was significant investment in employee time keeping the old system working and ironing out employees’ problems with it.

“We have really skilled programmers and they were getting harassed to do really basic network stuff, we were wasting time, wasting talent and spending money on things that were just silly,” he said. “This is much better.”

Security is his business and Jagger is confident Google delivers a secure solution.

“People always ask about the security aspects of it, especially since we are a security company,” he said. “At some stage wherever you have your stuff you have to trust who you are dealing with,” he said. “We have to trust Google has too much to lose by screwing around with people’s data.”

Google bills its Chrome browser as one for people “who live on the web,” using it for everything from basic email to news, shopping and staying in touch.

Published July 8, 2009 · The Vancouver Sun · Written by Gillian Shaw

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