Warning: This is a completely speculative post. But stay with me as I paint a possible scenario...
Microsoft is launching Windows 7 seven days from today on October 22. This evening, Google is holding an "open house" -- which, it turns out, is open to everyone but the press -- during which company officials are slated to share more details on its forthcoming Chrome OS. (You can bet there will be plenty of bloggers in attendance who will share all...)
Meanwhile, a leaked copy of the browser that's allegedly part of the Chrome OS seems to be circulating out there. (Update: This isn't the OS but the implication seems to be the actual Chrome OS is in the wild or soon could be. Thanks for the clarification, TZ.)
Given the propensity of competitors (including Microsoft) to try to rain on each other's parades -- or new product launches -- it's not so far-fetched to see this evening's Chrome OS show-and-tell as Google's attempt to confuse the OS market just in time for Windows 7.
When Google first shared its intentions to deliver Chrome OS by the latter half of 2010, the company created a lot more questions than answers. Was Chrome OS simply a version of Linux with the Chrome browser fused into it? Would it be a netbook OS only? How would it differ from Android? Would Chrome OS even be a true "operating system," in the sense we understand that term today?
If I were Google's CEO Eric Schmidt, I'd pick October 22 as the date when I'd drop the first Chrome OS beta. Guess we'll find out by next week if Schmidt is as diabolical as I am....
Meanwhile, what do you expect Apple to do in honor of next week's Windows 7 launch?
Update: Hmmm. It looks like Google didn't end up showing Chrome OS after all and officials are claiming it wasn't on the agenda. Schmidt did say during yesterday's earnings call with press and analysts that it is on track to go to testers before the end of this year, however.