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Google Takes Chrome OS Open Source

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Internet titan Google has lifted the veil on its much-anticipated Chrome OS project…in part by releasing the project as open source under the name Chromium OS to encourage developers and partners to hop on board. In doing so, Google has also revealed some of what will be included in Chrome OS when it hits the streets a year from now…and what users won’t be seeing.

First of all, Google envisions Chrome essentially as a Web-only experience: although users will be able to connect USB mass storage devices like cameras, thumb drives, and phones to devices running Chrome OS, there will be no “desktop experience” like most modern operating systems: instead, everything will take place inside a Chrome-based browser. All applications will be Web applications, and users will never have to deal with a file system or the complicated processes of installing and managing applications.

Google is also gearing the Chrome OS for speed, with the idea that users should be able to turn on a Chrome OS device and be surfing the Web in just a few seconds. And security is at the forefront of Google’s efforts: every time Chrome boots it verifies the integrity of its code base and running each application in its own security sandbox so, even if an individual app gets compromised, it will be very difficult for malware or viruses to impact the Chrome OS device.

The Chrome OS’s model essentially uses local storage only for caching and to speed operations: the entire operating system is geared to store individual users’ data in cloud-based applications and services. This is handy for people who need to tap into their online lives from a variety of machines and locations, but also means that Chrome will decidedly not be appropriate for everybody.

Google is working with hardware developers to outline requirements for Chrome OS-based device, and expects Chrome OS will start reaching consumers in about a year.