Speaking at the Computex conference in Taiwan today, Google's vice president of product management Sundar Pichai said that the company expected to announce the first devices running its Chrome OS by the fourth quarter of this calendar year.
Based on the Ubuntu Linux distribution, the new OS will effectively be the first fully cloud-based operating system, throwing down the gauntlet to Microsoft which has been hastily trying to develop its own web-based application suite in anticipation of Google's unwelcome arrival in its core market.
Google's Chrome browser has been very well receive by users and continues to build on its list of rich features, suggesting that it might be a popular option for netbook users. But while many in the industry are understandably excited about the idea of a web-based operating system, Google itself acknowledges the challenges, especially that providing access to applications.
Hoping to make this easier, however, the company announced at the recent Google I/O conference plans for a web-based application store that will be fully integrated with Chrome OS. Google has also developed a system that would allow users to initiate printing jobs through the cloud.
Another issue for Google is the fact that Chrome OS has not performed well on tablet devices, suggesting that Google developers will likely lean towards Android, which has of course been an immediate success for mobile devices, but which would constitute a major deviation from the company's grand plan. Android is based on Java while Chrome OS runs on Linux.
Nevertheless, as Pichai pointed out that providing open source platforms ultimately ensures that market "makes the best determination about what operating system will work best in the mass market".