Google Drops the Chrome OS Onto a Netbook Near You

googlechromelogoThe netbook world has been peeping all around, waiting for Google (s goog) Android to get dropped onto a netbook. Android was designed from the ground up to be a full-fledged OS to power everything from smartphones to netbooks. It has one failing in the netbook arena, though: It won’t run natively on x86 processors. Google isn’t concerned about that failing, and the Android netbook buzz has been merely the misdirection before Google slipped the ball under a different cup. Google has announced the Chrome OS, an open-source operating system designed for netbooks and desktops from the ground up. It has gotten very quiet in Redmond since the announcement.

Google intends for the Chrome OS to be used for getting netbooks onto the web and making web life better. The company has slyly pointed out that operating systems used today, a thinly veiled shot at Microsoft (s msft), were written long before the web existed. What could be better than to create a netbook OS designed around the web instead? That’s what Google Chrome OS is going to be, and why it’s the best alternative for netbooks. That’s what they are supposed to be used for, right?

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.

This shows clearly what Google is making with the Chrome OS — a web, or cloud, OS that puts the bulk of all user activity firmly up in the web. No heavy lifting on the user’s netbook; that will all take place up in the cloud with the Chrome OS handling it all. This is so clever on Google’s part, and could very well turn the next page on cloud computing.

Google states that the Chrome OS will run on both x86 and ARM processors, which covers pretty much the entire netbook spectrum. Several OEMs are already hard at work to bring netbooks to market next year, according to Google. But what about Android? Is this going to replace it?  Nope, Google sees them as separate platforms:

Google Chrome OS is a new project, separate from Android. Android was designed from the beginning to work across a variety of devices from phones to set-top boxes to netbooks. Google Chrome OS is being created for people who spend most of their time on the web, and is being designed to power computers ranging from small netbooks to full-size desktop systems. While there are areas where Google Chrome OS and Android overlap, we believe choice will drive innovation for the benefit of everyone, including Google.

We hear a lot from our users and their message is clear — computers need to get better. People want to get to their email instantly, without wasting time waiting for their computers to boot and browsers to start up. They want their computers to always run as fast as when they first bought them. They want their data to be accessible to them wherever they are and not have to worry about losing their computer or forgetting to back up files. Even more importantly, they don’t want to spend hours configuring their computers to work with every new piece of hardware, or have to worry about constant software updates. And any time our users have a better computing experience, Google benefits as well by having happier users who are more likely to spend time on the Internet.