That sound you just heard was the very big "other shoe" of Google being dropped. Late Tuesday night, the company announced on its official blog that it is going to soon be releasing what it calls the Google Chrome OS, a lightweight operating system, initially targeted at netbooks, but aggressively said to be their "attempt to re-think what operating systems should be."
This highly anticipated move is an extension to the company's Web browser initiative, launched just a short nine months ago, and puts Google in direct competition, once again, with tech titans Microsoft and Apple.
Though the blog post does not feature all the eye candy one typically looks for in a new operating system announcement, the author does spell out a few things. First, it will run on both x86 and ARM chips, and is considered a different project than that of Android - which many others had speculated would be Google's first foray into the world of operating systems. The post differentiates between the two by saying, "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."
The focus on those people who spend most of their time on the Web sounds like it would be in very close proximity with the CrunchPad I covered over the weekend, but funded by a company with thousands of employees, not a few dozen.
The new push from Google also will no doubt further complicate the relationship the company's CEO, Eric Schmidt, has as a board member at Apple. Already forced to recuse himself during discussions of the iPhone, thanks to the Android platform, Schmidt may find himself recused from discussions of Apple's OS, and any future tablet or tablet OS. With this kind of momentum, just maybe he won't play an official role on the board at all?
I wouldn't anticipate seeing builds of the new operating system any time soon. Google says they have a lot of work to do, and will be relying heavily on the open source community to push the project forward. They hint to stay tuned for more updates this fall. No doubt, many will be on the edge of their seat.