Google plans to announce within the next day or so the names of PC makers in Taiwan and China that have already signed on to work with its new Chrome operating system, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.
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The new Chrome OS will compete against Microsoft Windows in netbooks, laptop computers, and desktops. Google is developing the Linux-based operating system for heavy Internet users, and it will begin appearing in netbooks in the second half of 2010, the company said in a blog posting.
Chrome's user interface will be demonstrated by the end of this year, said Caroline Hsu, a spokeswoman for Google in Taipei.
The Chrome OS and Android are distinctly different operating systems, she added. Android was designed for small mobile devices, as well as TV set-top boxes and netbooks, while the Chrome OS will work in larger devices, from netbooks to desktops.
The Google initiative poses a significant threat to Microsoft's software dominance in the global PC industry, but the Windows maker will be very difficult to beat, analysts say.
"Microsoft has such a huge installed base of users and developers, it's hard to beat that," said Bryan Ma, director of personal systems research at IDC Asia-Pacific. Google will have to prove it can attract developers to create applications and device drivers to make sure the Chrome OS works with the many computers and peripherals available.
Google's strong brand name will be one key to its success.
"I think the Google name is going to give it some legs," said Ma, but the user experience will be the ultimate determiner of victory. Microsoft has been challenged before, particularly by companies offering different variations of Linux OSes, but these rival efforts have failed, he said.
With the Chrome OS, Google wants to run programs through the Internet and the Chrome browser, but that could cause latency problems, Ma said. "How robust will it be versus a Windows software program?" he asked.
Google's first stab at an operating system found success due to the Google name and the industry it's aimed at, mobile phones. Mobile phone users often work with different operating systems and that has helped Android. But the computing world is dominated by Microsoft, giving people very different expectations for how their software runs.
Microsoft declined to comment on this article.
The Chrome OS will work on computers with different kinds of microprocessors inside, including the x86 architecture used by Intel and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), and the ARM architecture, which is commonly found in mobile devices.
Intel's Asia-Pacific spokesman Nick Jacobs said Google's new OS further validates the netbook category of mobile devices. He called Chrome an example of innovation creating opportunity in the information technology industry and more choice for consumers.
Acer, the world's third-largest PC vendor, was unable to immediately provide a comment, while Asustek Computer declined to comment.