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Google plans to take on Windows

SUN VALLEY, Idaho - Google Inc. is working on a new operating system for inexpensive computers in a daring attempt to diminish Microsoft Corp.'s longstanding control over people's computer experience.

SUN VALLEY, Idaho - Google Inc. is working on a new operating system for inexpensive computers in a daring attempt to diminish Microsoft Corp.'s longstanding control over people's computer experience.

The new operating system will be based on the company's nine-month-old Web browser, Chrome. Google intends to rely on help from the community of open-source programmers to develop the Chrome operating system, which is expected to begin running computers in the second half of 2010.

Google announced its plan this week as industry officials gathered at a media conference in the Sun Valley resort.

Google is designing the operating system primarily for "netbooks," a lower-cost, less powerful breed of laptop computers that is becoming increasingly popular among budget-conscious consumers primarily interested in surfing the Web.

Google has already introduced an operating system for smart phones and other mobile devices, called Android, that vies against various other systems, including ones made by Microsoft and Apple Inc.

The Android system worked well enough to entice some computer makers to begin developing netbooks that will run on it. For instance, Acer Inc., the world's third-largest PC maker, said last month it would make netbooks that run Android instead of Windows. Acer said Android would make the computers less expensive and possibly help them boot up faster.

Google, though, apparently believes a Chrome-based system will be better suited for netbooks.

That is a direct challenge to Microsoft, whose next operating system, Windows 7, is being geared for netbooks as well as larger computers. And it would be Google's boldest confrontation yet with its biggest nemesis.

Microsoft had no immediate comment yesterday.

A duel between the two technology powerhouses has been steadily escalating in recent years as Google's dominance of the Internet's lucrative search market has given it the means to threaten Microsoft in ways that few other companies can.

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