Google is taking on Microsoft in its own backyard – the desktop operating system. It's also finally taken the "beta" label off its desktop applications and is ready to extend them into Microsoft's market as well.
According to the official Google blog, more than 30-million people already use the Google Chrome browser regularly, which was designed for people who "live on the Web".
However, write Sundar Pichai, vice-president: product management and Linus Upson, engineering director at Google, most of the underlying operating systems it runs on were designed in the pre-Web era.
"So today, we're announcing a new project that's a natural extension of Google Chrome – the Google Chrome Operating System. It's our attempt to re-think what operating systems should be."
Google Chrome OS is an open source, lightweight operating system that will initially be targeted at netbooks, they explain.
"Later this year we will open-source its code, and netbooks running Google Chrome OS will be available for consumers in the second half of 2010."
Speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS. It is being designed to be fast and lightweight, to start up and get users on to 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," write Pichai and Upson. "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."
Google Chrome OS will run on both x86 as well as ARM chips and Google is working with OEMs to bring a number of netbooks to market next year.
"The software architecture is simple – Google Chrome running within a new windowing system on top of a Linux kernel.
"For application developers, the web is the platform. 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," they write.
"We hear a lot from our users and their message is clear – computers need to get better. People want to get to their email 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. 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.
"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. And any time our users have a better computing experience, Google benefits as well by having happier users who are more likely to spend time on the Internet."
Meanwhile, Google has also finally taken its applications out of beta phase – Gmail has been in beta for more than five year – and is ready to extend them to take on the traditional players in this market.
Ever since we launched the Google Apps suite for businesses two years ago, it's had a service level agreement, 24/7 support, and has met or exceeded all the other standards of non-beta software," writes Matthew Glotzbach, product management at Google Enterprise on the company's blog. "More than 1,75-million companies around the world run their business on Google Apps, including Google.
"We've come to appreciate that the beta tag just doesn't fit for large enterprises that aren't keen to run their business on software that sounds like it's still in the trial phase. So we've focused our efforts on reaching our high bar for taking products out of beta, and all the applications in the Apps suite have now met that mark."
Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs and Google Talk — both enterprise and consumer versions — are now out of beta.
The company is also announcing some other Google Apps features that we think will appeal to large enterprises: mail delegation, mail retention and ongoing enhancements to Apps reliability.