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Locally, In the Azure Cloud or Chrome?

When Google debuted its Chrome browser last fall, it was clear that an operating system wasn't far behind. On Tuesday, the company made it official.

The Google Chrome OS, described by the company as "Google Chrome running within a new windowing system on top of a Linux kernel," will be made available as open source code later this year. Google has had undeniable success in the browser wars, reporting that 30 million people use the Chrome browser on a regular basis.

With a free OS on the horizon in a netbook economy, Steven Sinofsky, promoted to president of Microsoft's Windows division yesterday, has his work cut out for him.

Sundar Pichai, Google's VP of product management, and Linus Upson, engineering director, explained what the Chrome OS means for developers in a blog posting announcing the new project:

For application developers, the Web is the platform. All Web-based applications will automatically work and new applications can be written using your favorite web technologies. And of course, these apps will run not only on Google Chrome OS, but on any standards-based browser on Windows, Mac and Linux thereby giving developers the largest user base of any platform.

Google plans to make the Chrome OS available on netbooks in the second half of 2010. The company is working with several hardware and software companies including Acer, Adobe, ASUS, Freescale, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments and Toshiba.

As Pichai and Upson correctly point out, "The operating systems that browsers run on were designed in an era where there was no Web." The Chrome OS is targeted at people who live on the Web and "attempts to re-think what an operating system should be."

Google definitely got the industry abuzz, just days before Silverlight 3 is launched. Meanwhile, Microsoft is finalizing Windows 7 and continuing its push to make the Windows Azure cloud computing OS commercially available by year end.

On Tuesday, Microsoft released the July CTP of its .NET Services SDK, which is part of the Azure Services Platform. The SDK updates the Service Bus and Access Control, but drops Workflow Services, a move Microsoft announced in mid-June. Developers wanted .NET Workflow Services to be built on .NET Framework 4's workflow engine, according to the .NET Services team blog:

As the direct result of user feedback, we will hold off further releases of the Workflow Service until after .NET Framework 4 ships. Since there will be important changes to the Workflow Service before it goes to full production, we are planning to take down the existing Workflow Service as part of service improvements in the month of July. This means any solutions that currently rely on the Workflow Service will have to be modified on or before July 1 in order to continue functioning smoothly.

The sixth iteration of the CTP adds support for the Windows 7 release candidate, and offers setup and security improvements. It requires VS 2008, .NET 3.5, Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008. You can download it here.

Microsoft is expected to make several Azure-related announcements next week, including information about the pricing structure, at its Worldwide Partners Conference in New Orleans.

What are your thoughts on the Chrome OS? Will Google finally "consumerize" Linux? Express your take on the good, the bad and what you'd like to see from Microsoft below or drop me a line at [email protected].

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 07/09/2009

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