Google to allow developers to use Chrome operating system for free

Internet giant Google will launch its Chrome operating system in the Australian spring, with developers now eager to get their hands on the open-source software.

Analysts have said manufacturers may step up their efforts to launch a netbook or tablet PC using the software as soon as this year. Some even suggest Google may be working on its own hardware, but Chrome’s lead designer recently said it has nothing new to announce.

At the Computex conference in Taiwan, Google vice president of product management Sundar Pichai said the company will launch the Google OS later this year, during the American Autumn. This would probably mean a release in either September or October.

“We are working on bringing the device later this fall,” he said. “It’s something which we are very excited by…We expect it to reach millions of users on day one.”

Unfortunately, no further details were released. Developers already know the OS is extremely light-weight, designed to work with netbooks and stripped-down devices and will be compatible with web-based applications.

And while a recent report from Engadget suggests an official Google tablet might be on the way to challenge the Apple iPad, so far only a few mock-ups from lead designer Glen Murphy have provided an idea as to how the software will work.

But the software is open-source, meaning manufacturers will surely bring out their own versions of a Chrome OS tablet over the next few years – if it actually takes off.

The obvious advantage here is price. Because the software is open-source, manufacturers won’t have to pay top dollar for the rights to use the operating system and work on tweaking the software themselves.

As a result, consumer tablets running the OS should be cheaper than competitors’ versions, and could challenge the Apple iPad.

The OS itself is designed to work as a browser. Applications can be opened in “tabs”, much like the current Chrome internet browser, while a huge emphasis is placed on using web-based open-source solutions like Gmail and Google Maps.

The Chrome OS is also set to integrate with the company’s upcoming Chrome application store. The marketplace, to be opened later this year, will allow third-party developers to sell their apps designed to work within the browser itself.

These apps can range from games to high-end multimedia applications for editing photos. The company hopes users will be able to jump from one Google device to another, without the need to move files, with an emphasis on cloud computing.

Lead Chrome designer Glen Murphy told SmartCompany last month Google is heading towards integration with its devices.

“In the immediate future, we are focusing on things like integration. People have many different computers, a laptop, desktop, etc, and we are working on things like syncing different devices.”

“If you are on a desktop and want to get an app from the web store, then it needs to show up on all of your Chrome devices. You should be able to just go to any device and get the same thing that you bought from your own computer.”

Last year, Pichai said at the Google Chrome OS launch the company will require help from developers to get the OS up and running.

“We’re definitely going to need a lot of help from the open-source community to accomplish this vision. We’re excited for what’s to come and we hope you are too.”

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