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Google Shows Off Speed Of Its Chrome OS

November 20, 2009

Google said on Thursday that new software for its Chrome operating system will start up a computer as fast as a television can be turned on, Reuters reported.

Google’s venture into operating systems will pit its Chrome OS directly against Microsoft Corp and Apple Inc.

The Chrome OS resembles a Web browser more than it does a traditional computer operating system like Microsoft Windows. The look is expected to generate more revenue by driving users to the web, where they can see Google ads.

The software will initially be available by the holiday season of 2010 on low-cost netbooks that meet Google’s hardware specifications.

Google executives said at an event at the company’s Mountain View, California headquarters on Thursday that netbooks running Chrome OS will only be able to run Web applications and the user’s data will automatically be stored on the Web in the so-called cloud of Internet servers.

Altimeter Group analyst Charlene Li said netbooks powered by Chrome OS are basically Web browsing machines.

Computers running Chrome OS will be able to start in less than seven seconds, according to Sundar Pichai, vice-president of product management for Google’s Chrome OS.

“From the time you press boot you want it to be like a TV: You turn it on and you should be on the Web using your applications,” Pichai said.

In an effort to improve its Internet search advertising business, which generated roughly $22 billion in revenue in 2008, Google said it is giving away the software for free, similar to its Android smartphone software.

Todd Greenwald, an analyst with Signal Hill Group, said if Chrome is the OS then the attach (access) rate on Google searches will be a lot higher.

However, some analysts noted that the differences between conventional PCs and Chrome OS netbooks might give some consumers pause.

Gartner analyst Ray Valdes warned of Chrome’s lack of compatibility with traditional software and its limited offline capabilities.

But Chrome OS netbooks will be able to provide some functions when offline, despite that the product was primarily designed to be connected to the Internet.

But Valdes said consumers might view Chrome OS netbooks as a distinct class of products with attractive benefits if Google can deliver on the products’ promises, such as fast performance.

He believes Chrome will initially appeal to a small subset of the general consumer population, but whether Google can build on that and expand it over time is the real question.

The Chrome OS computer code was made available to outside developers on Thursday, allowing developers to tinker with the software and potentially design new applications.

However, Google’s Pichai said that Chrome OS-based PCs would be interoperable with Web-based versions of software, such as Microsoft’s online version of its Excel spreadsheet.

But one major selling point is that all data in Chrome will automatically be housed in the so-called cloud, or on external servers, but also cached on the computer’s internal hardware to boost performance.

Google Engineering Director Matt Papakipos explained that if a user loses their netbook, they can buy a new one, log in and within seconds have a machine with access to all the same data as their previous device.

Papakipos said what really makes it a cloud device is that all the user data is synced back to the cloud in real time.

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