In the personal-computer industry, where things change fast, one fact has been a constant for years: There are two major, mainstream operating systems for consumers. One, Microsoft Windows, runs on many brands of hardware and dominates sales. The other, Apple's Mac OS X, runs only on its maker's Macintosh computers, and has had a resurgence in popularity in recent years. Other contenders, such as various versions of Linux, have remained on the fringes.
Next summer, however, Google hopes to add a third broad-based computer-operating system to challenge the duopoly. It's called Chrome OS, and is based on Google's Chrome Web browser. With Chrome, Google isn't just aiming to elbow its way into the OS business. It's hoping to change the entire paradigm.
Instead of storing most programs and files on your computer itself, the Chrome OS will mainly run programs from, and require you to keep your data in, the cloud—remote servers located on the Internet. In effect, it turns your entire computer into a giant Web browser, instead of treating the browser as just one among many local programs.
From The Wall Street Journal
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