Will the new Google Chrome Operating System transform the computer industry?

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It has been a week since Google announced plans to extend its newest Google Chrome browser into a full-fledged operating system, and the blogosphere has become a mosh pit of speculation.

The new Google Chrome OS, scheduled to launch in 2010, will be “an open source, lightweight operating system that will initially be targeted at netbooks,” according to Google’s official blog. “Because we’re already talking to partners about the project, and we’ll soon be working with the open source community, we wanted to share our vision now so everyone understands what we are trying to achieve.”

The basic concept behind Google’s new operating system is that it would function as an Internet browser, using the Web as the computer’s platform. All applications, files, contacts and e-mail messages would exist on the Web. The open sourced system would also allow users to connect with one another to write new applications and programs online – similar to Linux.

The concept is called “cloud computing,” in which information exists on the cloud of connected computers that is the Internet. Examples of cloud computing include Hotmail, Facebook, Gmail and Twitter, which all feature information that exist solely online. But with Google Chrome, the entire operating system would exist online.

Journalists and bloggers are now speculating the details of what Google’s somewhat vague announcement entails. Some believe Google is fighting back against Microsoft’s new Bing search engine that seems to have encroached on Google’s turf. Others believe Google is simply trying to expand its advertising base by getting more people online (97 percent of Google’s revenue came from keyword advertising on its search engine last year, according to its annual report).

Whatever Google’s intentions are, it is sure to spark heated competition that will eventually lead to new, innovative technology as the three giants – Google, Microsoft and Apple – battle it out to create the next evolution in computer science.

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