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On July 7th, the same day that GMail dropped its beta tag, wait...GMail is out of beta? Apparently so (more than five years after its introduction). Anyway, on the same day, Google announced the Chrome OS--a light-weight, cloud computing, open source stack consisting primarily of the Chrome browser and a window manager sitting atop the Linux kernel. It will initially be targeted at netbooks, but will grow in scope to envelop desktop computers and possibly other devices.

Chrome-powered netbooks will be available to consumers in the second half of 2010, says the entry in the Official Google Blog. The project will go open source later this year, and Google is looking for help from the community. Chrome OS will run on x86 and ARM processors, and the company is already working with various OEMs to get it in your hands.

Before long, we could be booting up in under five seconds to check email at the airport. We could have absolute back-up with auto-saved system changes. Our operating system could be as easy to synch across computers as Firefox is with a couple of plug-ins. Universal synch sounds wonderful. This isn't what they're promising, but that's what the cloud is about, right?

So the Android netbook debate may have been put to rest this week. While Google acknowledges some Android overlap and the factor of personal taste, it's clear where they're headed with the netbook set. And considering their affinity for open source products, I'd say it's about time they launched the Linux version of the Chrome browser so more of us can get a feel for the future of laptop computing.


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