Google takes on Windows with Chrome OS

This should be interesting. A little competition never hurts. In any case, I expect that we are going to see some relatively big changes within the next five years.

(CNN) — Google is jumping into Microsoft Windows territory — and threatening to change the way personal computers work — with its own version of a computer operating system.

But why should you care?

A trim and speedy Google operating system, which has been buzzed about online for some time, is interesting for several reasons — even if you think it could flop out of the gate

The first is that Chrome OS will be available as “open-source” technology. That means software developers will be able to mess with the code behind the system, allowing them to develop new applications for it.

In essence, it puts the users in control.

This wisdom-of-the-masses philosophy flies right in the face of Microsoft Windows, which keeps its code locked away.

The open-source nature of Chrome OS also has led to some speculation that the software will be free, as many open-source platforms are. Google Inc., based in Mountain View, California, hasn’t commented on price as of yet, although most of its services, such as Gmail and Picasa, are free.

Second, Google’s operating system supports another buzz term in the tech world: cloud computing. That phrase means a bunch of things to different people, but it essentially refers to the idea that a lot of computing can be done through Internet servers instead of on the computer that’s sitting in front of you.

Cloud computing, in part, is behind the rise in netbooks — small laptops that are essentially portals of entry into the much greater vat of information, storage space and computing power that exists “in the cloud.”

Google’s blog says its OS will be designed specifically to work with netbooks at first. Later versions are expected to target the larger desktop and laptop computer markets.

The OS also probably will partner well with Google’s Web browser, also called Chrome. Essentially, the operating system could become an Internet-based experience.

Michael Arrington, co-editor at TechCrunch, says that’s a big threat to Microsoft’s business, but it may help consumers.

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