"The operating systems that browsers run on were designed in an era where there was no web. So today, we're announcing a new project that's a natural extension of Google Chrome—the Google Chrome Operating System. It's our attempt to re-think what operating systems should be."

With those words, Google late last night launched a direct assault on rival Microsoft, announcing the development of its own personal-computer operating system, connected to its Chrome Web browser, which was launched late last year.

The open-source Chrome OS will first run on netbooks, "laptop-lite" portables that have been selling like hotcakes in recent months. The first netbooks running Chrome OS will be available in the second half of 2010, according to the Google statement signed by Google VP of Product Management Sundar Pichai and Engineering Director Linus Upson.

They promised "speed, simplicity and security" for the OS:

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