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Google Challenges Microsoft With New Chrome Operating System

Taking the fight to Microsoft's doorstep, Google has announced Chrome OS, a new operating system for netbooks and desktop computers.

Microsoft expects to ship some version of Windows on most of these devices; the desktop versions of Windows Vista and Windows 7 tend to demand more computing power than most netbooks can provide. Brad Brooks, the company's corporate VP for Windows consumer product marketing, said in February that since February 2008, the share of Windows OS on netbooks had risen from 10% to 80% a year later. The gain represents the result of a concerted effort by Microsoft to counter the spread of Linux-based netbooks.

Google's Chrome OS announcement can be seen as a response to Microsoft's netbook campaign. And its justification for introducing Chrome OS highlights a longtime sore point for Windows users, namely long startup times. "We hear a lot from our users and their message is clear -- computers need to get better," said Pichai and Upson. "People want to get to their e-mail instantly, without wasting time waiting for their computers to boot and browsers to start up. They want their computers to always run as fast as when they first bought them."

Pichai and Upson also indicated that Chrome OS will include a variety of cloud-based services to make life easier for users, like automatic backups and software updates. The days of shrink-wrapped software sold on store shelves are numbered.

In April, Vic Gundotra, VP of engineering at Google, declared, "the Web has won." Now the fight has moved to the desktop.

InformationWeek Analytics has published an independent analysis of the current state of open source adoption. Download the report here (registration required).

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