According to an article at Ars Technica, Google has announced, at the Computex conference in Taipei, that the first machines featuring its Chrome OS operating system will be available this fall. So far, no information has been released on which hardware partner(s) will introduce the first devices. The open-source Chrome OS itself is free; it is based on an Ubuntu Linux core, with a front end built on Google’s existing Chrome browser.
This announcement and the Financial Times story (about Google dropping Windows) that I wrote about yesterday are probably not entirely unrelated. As I’ve said, I don’t see Google gaining any significant advantage from picking a public fight with Microsoft; on the other hand, it would not bother Google at all if people kept getting the idea that using Windows is a security risk. (For the record, I believe it is possible to make either Windows or Linux acceptably secure for personal or commercial applications, provided you know what you’re doing. I have not used Mac OS X enough to have an informed opinion.)
The real question here is whose vision for the future of personal computing is going to be closer to reality. Microsoft, in my view, is still pretty much wedded to the traditional desktop, one PC ≡ one user, model. Google, in keeping with Web-centric nature of their business, sees a future much more focused on the “cloud”. Watching this play out will be fascinating.