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Google Offers Peek at Operating System, a Potential Challenge to Windows


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MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Google began lifting the veil on its planned Chrome operating system on Thursday, but it said that computers powered by the software would not be available for a year.

The new operating system, which is closely tied to Google’s Web browser, also named Chrome, is seen as a potential challenge to Microsoft, whose Windows software powers the vast majority of personal computers. 

But with the Chrome operating system, Google is not trying to build a better version of Windows. Instead, it is aiming to shift users toward its vision of “cloud computing,” a model in which programs are not installed on a PC but rather are used over the Internet and accessed through a Web browser. In Google’s approach, a user’s data will also reside on servers across the Internet, rather than on their PC.

Most PC users already rely on cloud computing, using their Internet browsers to access things like e-mail, photo albums and digital maps.

“Hundreds of millions of users are living on the cloud,” said Sundar Pichai, a vice president for product management at Google in charge of Chrome. Every program that users enjoy on their PCs today, Mr. Pichai said, will soon be available as a Web application. “The trend is very, very clear,” he said.

While Microsoft and others say they believe that cloud-based programs will coexist with traditional PC software, Google has often said that Web applications will replace all desktop software, another area that Microsoft dominates. Machines running the Chrome operating system, which initially will be limited to lightweight, portable computers known as netbooks, will not run any desktop applications other than the Chrome browser. 

From The New York Times
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