Well, it’s official. Over the last few years in particular, especially given Windows Vista’s lackluster image in much of the mainstream computer buying landscape, a number of companies have been suspected of developing their own OS to compete with Windows, most notably among them HP.

But late yesterday, Google officially announced that they’re developing a product called Google Chrome OS, a full-on operating system for PCs that is designed specifically to run on netbooks, but which Google claims could power full-size PCs as well. Hit the clicky thingie to read more…

It sorta makes sense if you think about it…Google’s apps are all web-based, and netbooks are designed to access just the web anyway. And Google just pulled a bunch of their apps out of Beta status. And, really, all they need to do is have a small & lightweight enough of an OS to simply open the Chrome browser.

Not that this is an easy task, mind you. Think about how well Vista or Windows 7, for example, do at installing without making you do much work in terms of collecting and setting up drivers…this is one of Microsoft’s major accomplishments in the PC landscape. Even the formerly-Intel Moblin OS for netbooks, which has since been turned over to the Linux Foundation, has been in development for two years and still isn’t quite ready for primetime. It was designed specifically for netbooks and MIDs running Intel Atom processors…and, again, created initially by the processor’s creator…and there still plenty of issues with it that would keep the average user from being able to just “install it and run it”.

So Google definitely has its work cut out for it in developing the Chrome OS. Evidently, it’s a fair ways along, though, as they also announced that it’d be available later this year, and that netbooks with Chrome OS pre-installed will go on sale in the second half of next year. As such, they must feel that it’s, say, nine months away from being “done”.

In any event, you can be sure that there are some high blood pressure readings happening in Redmond right now, as Microsoft’s operating systems, whether the forthcoming Windows 7 (which, in its Starter edition guise should be a good offering for netbooks) or Windows Mobile, are likely viewed as either being too much or not enough of an OS for the netbook and MID platform.

With the 6.5 refresh and version 7 of Windows Mobile looming in the future, Microsoft has an opportunity to catch up with what others are doing in the space, most notably the iPhone OS, Android, WebOS and, now, Chrome OS, but the question remains as to where they’ll place their target and whether or not they can hit it.

New York Times