At this point, I don't even know if they'll be releasing it as a beta, although that would be pretty silly of them just to show it off and not let people get their hands on it. Still, that may prove to be the case. According to a Google public relations representative, "While this will be more of a technical announcement, we will be showing a few demos that will definitely be of interest to you as well as a complete overview and our launch plans for next year."
Last week's rumors that Chrome would actually be launched in 2009 have been revealed as clearly wrong. But while we may not have Google Chrome for Christmas, it appears we will get it sometime in 2010.
What exactly will Chrome be like when it does arrive? We don't know yet. What we do know is that Google Chrome OS will initially be targeted at netbooks. The plan has always been that it will be available pre-installed on both ARM and x86-powered netbooks. It will also be available as a downloadable and installable operating system.
One major PC vendor, Lenovo, has already committed to selling a 3G wireless connected netbook that will use Google's Linux-based Android. It should be easy for them to also deploy Chrome on the same package. Numerous other hardware vendors, such as Acer, ASUS, Hewlett-Packard, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, and Toshiba have committed to releasing netbooks with Chrome.
If Microsoft isn't worried yet, they should be. No other Linux distribution that's shipping, never mind that Chrome is still vaporware at this point, has gotten so much support from PC makers.
Chrome OS isn't a traditional desktop operating system though. Google Chrome will run on a new windowing system on top of Linux. While it will be able to support traditional desktop-bound applications, as Google said when they announced that they were working on Chrome, "For application developers, the Web is the platform. All web-based applications will automatically work and new applications can be written using your favorite web technologies. And of course, these apps will run not only on Google Chrome OS, but on any standards-based browser on Windows, Mac and Linux thereby giving developers the largest user base of any platform."
We may not even to get out hands on a beta of Chrome this year, but clearly, with Google's massive backing, Chrome is going to be very important, very fast. For the first time in years, Windows may face a real challenge to desktop supremacy. Tomorrow will give us our first look at what may be the next generation of the 21st century desktop.
UPDATE: 4:11 PM EDT: Sundar Pichai, Vice President of Product Management and Matthew Papakipos, Engineering Director for Google Chrome OS will webcast the Google Chrome OS announcement on Thursday, November 19, 10:00am PST at the following URL:
You will need a Real or Windows Media compatible Player to hear the broadcast. Or check out: