The company announced Google Chrome OS on its blog, saying lower-end PCs called Netbooks from unnamed manufacturers will include it in the second half of 2010. Linux will run under the covers of the open-source project, but the applications will run on the Web itself.
The move shows just how serious Google is about making the Web into a foundation not just for static pages but for active applications, notably its own such as Google Docs and Gmail. It also opens new competition with Microsoft and, potentially, a new reason for antitrust regulators to pay close attention to Google's moves.
In short, Google is aiming to render desktop software irrelevant. To thwart them, Microsoft needs Windows to do things that a browser can't--or do the same things significantly better.
Interestingly, if Microsoft wants some tips on how to do this, it might want to look toward Apple. Essentially, this has been Apple's challenge all along: make the Mac experience better enough than a generic PC that it is worth the added cost.
Google has a long history of tracking user activity, and the introduction of its Chrome operating system later this year is sure to follow suit. While we know that it's being built off of Linux, one big thing we don't know is how its terms of service will differ from those found in other Google products, and what kinds of user data it will be collecting. Based on the company's track record of watching and monetizing user data, it could track anything from the applications you're using, to all the information that's coming in and out of your computer.
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