Less then a year ago they launched an incredibly successful web browser, Google Chrome, which has eaten up market share at an almost unheard of rate to become the third most popular PC web browser on the market, surpassing long time running Opera. Their next major project based on the growing Chrome empire is a lightweight operating system based on the same ideas and direction that went into the browser.
Google has now announced that they are going to give the public a first look at the new Chrome OS is an extremely beta fashion, and this, only months after they announced they were embarking on the project. The OS will have to be run in a VMware environment for now, and it is expected that the final release of the OS will only be capable of running on Google specified hardware outside of the virtual bubble. The public beta can be found here: http://gdgt.com/google/chrome-os/download/
The Google Team Blog expands;
“Today we are open-sourcing the project as Chromium OS. We are doing this early, a year before Google Chrome OS will be ready for users, because we are eager to engage with partners, the open source community and developers. As with the Google Chrome browser, development will be done in the open from this point on. This means the code is free, accessible to anyone and open for contributions. The Chromium OS project includes our current code base, user interface experiments and some initial designs for ongoing development. This is the initial sketch and we will color it in over the course of the next year.
We want to take this opportunity to explain why we’re excited about the project and how it is a fundamentally different model of computing.
First, it’s all about the web. All apps are web apps. The entire experience takes place within the browser and there are no conventional desktop applications. This means users do not have to deal with installing, managing and updating programs.
Second, because all apps live within the browser, there are significant benefits to security. Unlike traditional operating systems, Chrome OS doesn’t trust the applications you run. Each app is contained within a security sandbox making it harder for malware and viruses to infect your computer. Furthermore, Chrome OS barely trusts itself. Every time you restart your computer the operating system verifies the integrity of its code. If your system has been compromised, it is designed to fix itself with a reboot. While no computer can be made completely secure, we’re going to make life much harder (and less profitable) for the bad guys. If you dig security, read the Chrome OS Security Overview or watch the video.
Most of all, we are obsessed with speed. We are taking out every unnecessary process, optimizing many operations and running everything possible in parallel. This means you can go from turning on the computer to surfing the web in a few seconds. Our obsession with speed goes all the way down to the metal. We are specifying reference hardware components to create the fastest experience for Google Chrome OS.
There is still a lot of work to do, and we’re excited to work with the open source community. We have benefited hugely from projects like GNU, the Linux Kernel, Moblin, Ubuntu, WebKit and many more. We will be contributing our code upstream and engaging closely with these and other open source efforts.