Google vice president of product management Sundar Pichai announced that the company's browser-centric operating system will be released this fall. Chrome OS is built on top of the Ubuntu Linux distribution, but uses a completely custom user interface based on Google's Chrome Web browser.
The announcement was made at the Computex conference in Taipei where hardware makers are unveiling a multitude of new tablet and netbook products. Pichai reportedly said that Google is working on bringing the first Chrome OS device to market.
"We are working on bringing the device later this fall," Pichai said, according to a report by AFP. "We expect it to reach millions of users on day one."
Google's Chrome Web browser recently dropped its beta label on Linux with the release of Chrome 5, the first official stable release that is supported across Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X. The browser's increasingly rich feature set and excellent performance make it a good choice for netbooks, the market at which Chrome OS is squarely aimed.
The big question is whether Chrome OS will also be ready for tablets when it is launched later this year. Existing Android tablet prototypes have a lot of rough edges and seem to suggest that Google's phone operating system is not be a good choice for the larger tablet form factor. It's possible that Google will encourage hardware makers to use Chrome OS instead of Android on tablet devices, and we have already seen some evidence that Google and its partners are working on ARM and Tegra 2 support for the platform.
The concept of a browser-centric operating system is intriguing, but there are still some challenges that have to be overcome. According to Google, one of the biggest issues is application discoverability. During the recent Google I/O conference, the company announced plans for a Web-based application store that will make it easy for users to find and purchase access to Web software. The store will be integrated with Chrome OS, allowing users to "install" Web application launchers onto the new tab screen. Google has also developed a novel "cloud printing" system so that users will be able to print over the Internet from Chrome OS devices.
The official launch of Chrome OS has some significant ramifications. It will push Google into the platform market, where the company will compete with rival Microsoft. Like other Linux-based platforms, Chrome OS will be available for free, allowing hardware vendors to avoid licensing costs.
Source: ars technica