Contrary to rumors, Google did not release a beta version of its much anticipated Chrome operating system today. And nothing is coming anytime soon: the final version is at least a year away, the mega giant web company said.
But there was some significant news for the community today. Google made the early code available to the open source community and claims external developers will have the same access to the code as internal Google developers.
All the code is open and sketches of the design documents are available now. The final version of the cloud-based operating system is expected to ship at the end of 2010, before the holiday season, executives said.
Google also provided an early demonstration of the web operating system, which sports a Chrome browser-like interface that features application tabs instead of web page tab and a seven second bootup time that is expected to be much faster on its release.
For example, users will see the same clean tabbed style interface but the tabs on the upper left hand of the screen are for gmail, Yahoo, Facebook and any other web service or application customers use on a day-to-day basis. All of the data, of course, is stored in the cloud.
Executives who showed the demo Thursday said the Chrome OS functions more like a TV than a computer. It is entirely solid state and based on Flash memory storage so there's no latency that comes with using a hard disk.
The OS uses web-based security model. The software offers a verified boot and cryptographic signature keys that check for and ensure there's no malware impacted the applications. Like the Chrome browser, it will also feature security sandboxing to isolate one web application from another.
The web operating system will offer auto-updating and synchronization capabilities.
Go To Market
Google is working with partners to specify hardware competence and reference implementations at the hardware level. That is, Google Chrome OS will support only solid state drives and select wireless cards. This means that customers will have to buy a new next-generation netbook or device that is designed for the Chrome OS.
The initial form factor for 2010 is the netbook. Laptops and desktops may follow in the future.
Google expects hardware devices to fall in same price range as netbooks are today. Chrome OS netbooks will be larger and feature a full sized keyboard.
"The code is open. We would not be here if it were not for several large open source projects such as Linux kernel, Ubuntu, Moblin and webskit," said Caesar Sengupta, Group Product Manager. "We'll be a good open source citizen."
The open source operating system won't support other browsers natively but third parties including Mozilla and Microsoft can take the code and do Firefox-based and Windows-based versions of the OS.
More Google Chrome OS coverage: