Chrome OS Linux is a free operating system by Google. The goal is to provide a lightweight platform for the best web browsing experience. The open source version of the project is called Chromium.
Google developers began coding the operating system in 2009, inspired by the growing popularity and lower power consumption of netbooks and the focus of these small laptops on Internet access. To ascertain marketing requirements for an operating system focused on netbook Web transactions, the company did not do the usual demographic research generally associated with a large software development project. Instead, engineers have relied on more informal metrics, including monitoring the usage patterns of some 200 Chrome OS machines used by Google employees. Developers also noted their own usage patterns. Matthew Papakipos, former engineering director for the Chrome OS project, put three machines in his house and found himself logging in for brief sessions: to make a single search query or send a short email.
On November 19, 2009, Google released Chrome OS's source code as the Chromium OS project. As with other open source projects, developers are modifying code from Chromium OS and building their own versions, whereas Google Chrome OS code will only be supported by Google and its partners, and will only run on hardware designed for the purpose. Unlike Chromium OS, Chrome OS will be automatically updated to the latest version. InformationWeek reviewer Serdar Yegulalp wrote that Chrome OS will be a product, developed to "a level of polish and a degree of integration with its host hardware that Chromium OS does not have by default," whereas Chromium OS is a project, "a common baseline from which the finished work is derived" as well as a pool for derivative works. The product and project will be developed in parallel and borrow from each other.
At a November 19, 2009 news conference, Sundar Pichai, the Google vice president overseeing Chrome, demonstrated an early version of the operating system. He previewed a desktop which looked very similar to the Chrome browser, and in addition to the regular browser tabs also had application tabs, which take less space and can be pinned for easier access. At the conference, the operating system booted up in seven seconds, a time Google said it would work to reduce.
On January 25, 2010, Google posted notes, images and a video of a conceptual design showing how a Chrome OS user interface might look on a tablet PC with a 5-10 inch screen. The design would include the same basic layout as on netbooks, but with a touch interface; an onscreen qwerty keyboard in different layouts; large, square icons placed above the tabs; and panels placed along the bottom edge that could be opened with an upward dragging motion. The posting was made two days before Apple announced the iPad tablet.