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Google concocts PC OS

Posted: 10 Jul 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:PC OS? computer OS rivalry? technology market?

Google Inc. said it plans to develop and roll out a new PC OS that will aim at dislodging Microsoft Corp. from its perch atop the computer world, as the two continued their intense rivalry for dominance in the technology market.

The new OSto be named Google Chrome OSwill debut by the second half of 2010. It will initially be targeted at the low-cost netbook market, although it will eventually migrate to the PC segment, an area long dominated by Microsoft, which is planning to roll out the latest version of its Windows OS later this year.

"Google Chrome OS will run on both x86 as well as ARM chips, and we are working with multiple OEMs to bring a number of netbooks to market next year," said Sundar Pichai, VP of product management and Linus Upson engineering director at Google in a blog post. "The software architecture is simpleGoogle Chrome running within a new windowing system on top of a Linux kernel. For application developers, the Web is the platform."

It is clear that Google is targeting the planned OS at Microsoft, with the goal of gradually reducing the stranglehold that the world's biggest software company has on the technology market. Microsoft's OS is often preloaded on a majority of the world's PCs, and the company has a growing monopoly also in the netbook segment.

Re-thinking OS
Google said it is entering the OS market because the current technology products available to system developers, consumers and corporate technology equipment buyers were "designed in an era where there was no Web." As a result, Google said, the technology market needs to "re-think what operating systems should be."

The company is already trying to nibble at Microsoft's share in other market segments. Google rolled out a competing Web browser named Google Chrome about nine months ago, and the company claims it is already being used by more than 30 million people globally. Google has also tackled Microsoft's domination of the applications market by developing products compatible with its rival's Microsoft Office applications.

Google is challenging Microsoft in other areas as well. The company's Android OS for mobile devices is believed to be taking off, but Pichai noted in his blog post on July 7, 2009 that the Google Chrome OS would be a new "project, separate from Android."

"Android was designed from the beginning to work across a variety of devices from phones to set-top boxes to netbooks," Pichai said. "Google Chrome OS is being created for people who spend most of their time on the Web and is being designed to power computers ranging from small netbooks to full-size desktop systems."

In the past, Microsoft had been able to shake off similar efforts by other OS developers to break into the PC sector. The company's market share of PC OS has fallen gradually as open source applications such as Linux gained traction, but Microsoft still commands a greater share of the OS segment.

Darting at Microsoft
Google's attempt may represent one of the more direct and potentially viable strikes at Microsoft's PC OS dominance. With more than $17 billion in cash and short-term investments as at the end of the March quarter, Google has the means to fund the new OS, and its own domination of the Web search engine market also gives it a strong platform to aim darts at Microsoft.

By playing on persistent fears about the vulnerabilities of Microsoft's operating systems to virus attacks, start-up hiccups as well as concerns about the company's monopoly status at PC makers, Google may be able to drive a wedge between its opponent and its customers. It's not clear though if this would be enough to dislodge Microsoft from its premier position in the OS market.

"People want to get to their e-mail instantly, without wasting time waiting for their computers to boot and browsers to start up," Pichai said.

"They want their computers to always run as fast as when they first bought them. They want their data to be accessible to them wherever they are and not have to worry about losing their computer or forgetting to back up files," he added. "Even more importantly, they don't want to spend hours configuring their computers to work with every new piece of hardware or have to worry about constant software updates."

- Bolaji Ojo
EE Times

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