Just after we heard a number of rumors about the possible arrival of the rumored Google OS tonight, Google actually went ahead and announced that it will indeed release its own operating system - the Google Chrome Operating System. For now, Google plans to aim this OS at the netbook market. The OS will only become available for consumers in the second half of 2010, but Google promises that it will open-source the code later this year. According the the announcement on the Google blog, the OS will run on standard x86 chips as well as ARM chips, and Google is already working with a number of OEMs to bring devices that run the Google Chrome OS to the market.

Google Chrome OS is Not Android

In the announcement, Google stresses that this operating system is a completely new project and not affiliated with Google's Android OS, which, according to Google, was always meant to run on a variety of devices, including netbooks. Google acknowledges that the two operating systems might overlap in some areas, but the company believes that, ultimately, "choice will drive innovation for the benefit of everyone, including Google."

Here is how Google describes the OS:

Speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS. We're designing the OS to be fast and lightweight, to start up and get you onto the web in a few seconds. The user interface is minimal to stay out of your way, and most of the user experience takes place on the web. And as we did for the Google Chrome browser, we are going back to the basics and completely redesigning the underlying security architecture of the OS so that users don't have to deal with viruses, malware and security updates. It should just work.

The Google Chrome OS will run on top of a Linux kernel, though the exact details about the actual implementation are still vague.

Perfect for Netbooks

This kind of operating system would obviously be perfect for netbooks, which, after all, are meant to be constantly connected to the Internet and don't have a lot of resources. Currently, most netbooks run Windows XP, which, by now, is a rather antiquated operating system. With Windows 7, Microsoft tried to release a version for netbooks that would only run three applications at the same time (though Microsoft has since dropped this limit). Maybe Google is going to take this even further and will release an OS that will only run one application - Chrome.

With this, Google can obviously put its own web apps like Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Docs at the center of the user experience, and this is surely part of Google's motivation behind releasing this OS. But given that Chrome is simply a browser, any other web app would obviously also be able to run on it as well.