SAN FRANCISCOGoogle Inc. announced Thursday (Nov. 19) the open-sourcing of code for Chrome OS, the cloud-based operating system the company is developing to power netbooks.
Sundar Pichai, Google's vice president of product management, said Google is open-sourcing Chrome OS one year before it is targeted to be ready for users in order to engage with partners, the open source community and developers. Pichai spoke at a press event at Google's headquarter in Mountain View, Calif., which was available via webcast.
"As of today, Chrome OS will be fully open," Pichai said. "Google developers will be working off the same tree as external developers."
Chrome OS, first announced in July, is still in early development stage. By providing a thin layer of low-level software underneath its Chrome browser, Google anticipates that Chrome OS will power inexpensive netbooks that harness the power of cloud computing to provide users with access to cloud-based applications.
The concept, which has been described as "cloudbook," is anticipated to give rise to a new class that need fewer semiconductors and don't store software applications or date locally.
Pichai said that for netbooks running Chrome OS, every application would be a web application and users would be free from installing software and managing updates. Such devices will also operate much faster than conventional PCs, he said.
In a demonstration of an early version of Chrome OS, a Microsoft Excel file was opened using an online version of Microsoft's Office suite, as Pichai noted that the machine it was running on did not have Excel installed. He joked that Microsoft had been kind enough to write an application for Chrome OS.
"Chrome OS does not have a proprietary application framework," Pichai said. "Anyone who puts an application on the web is writing an application for Chrome OS."
Pichai did not say what hardware OEMs Google is working with on cloudbooks. He said that OEMs would announce pricing for machines coming to the market and that Google has not asked them to meet a target price.
The open-source project around Chrome OS, called the Chromium OS project, currently consists of code, user interface experiments and some initial designs. Google said it plans to further development the initial elements over the course of the next year.