If asked which operating systems were most popular, most of you would list the usual: Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux/Unix. Come the second half of 2010, to that list we will be able to add the Google Chrome Operating System which will be both open source and lightweight. Initially targeted for Netbooks (smart move, Google, those things are everywhere), Google’s newly announced operating system is being described as a natural extension of the Google Chrome browser which millions now use just a short nine months after its launch.

According to Google, “Google Chrome OS will run on both x86 as well as ARM chips and we are working with multiple OEMs to bring a number of netbooks to market next year. The software architecture is simple — Google Chrome running within a new windowing system on top of a Linux kernel.” The open source community will get their hands on the code sometime this year.

Microsoft and Google are seen as competitors in certain areas, and now certainly with an Operating System in the works, they will be competitors on another level. This is why the timing of the announcement is, shall we say, interesting? Between bits and pieces of what Robert Scoble has said (more what he didn’t say, apparently Microsoft has a big announcement coming but he’s embargoed) and what Long Zheng over at I Started Something said (his “sources” say Microsoft’s Monday announcement will be about an Office Web application), we’re thinking Google carefully timed when to make the announcement.

Google Chrome OS Announcement.png

Around the web we found both those who are excited about the thought of a Google browser, and those who are a little skeptical as well. We’ll start with the skeptics: One of the biggest concerns seems to be privacy. Any time you mention Google these days, people cry “but what about my privacy, Google will have access to too much information about me.” The skeptics of the Google Chrome OS fear their privacy will be compromised. Certainly privacy is important, but it shouldn’t get confused with security when it comes to an operating system.

Now for the excitement: Those who are fans of web apps and the individuals who create them are excited about the opportunity a Google Chrome OS gives web apps to thrive. Another positive coming from this is that throwing another competitor into the OS mix helps push innovation. Sometimes it takes competition for companies to up their game.

Alright, so here are our last thoughts. A Google Chrome OS does sound like a smart move for Google, BUT, consumers won’t have their hands on it until 2010? Hopefully they will be able to keep the excitement up over the next year or so. We’re just wondering what Microsoft thinks of all this? Maybe this brings some relief? Michael Arrington summed it up best when he said “Every Chrome computer bought won’t have Windows and won’t have Office. That must send chills down the spine of the guys up in Redmond. But hey, at least they can now point to Google when the antitrust guys come knocking. Someone other than them are bundling the operating system and browser in one neat package.”

So now Microsoft, what’s this about an Office Web application? We’ll be enthusiastically waiting this Monday announcement…