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Intel cozying up to Google Chrome OS

'Privy to the project'

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It's official: Intel is working with Google on the development of the Mountain View ad broker's new netbook operating system, Google Chrome OS.

Word of the world's largest processor manufacturer's involvement with the world's largest internet searcher's purportedly virus-free OS first came by way of a comment by an Asia-Pacific Intel spokesman.

And on Friday morning, Intel spokesman Nick Knupffer at the company's Santa Clara, California, headquarters, confirmed that report, telling The Reg that: "We’ve been privy to the project for some time and work with Google on a variety of projects, including elements of this one. We welcome Google’s move here."

Intel is welcoming multiple operating systems onto its processors. In addition to its long-standing relationship with Microsoft's Windows, Intel is also working with the Linux Foundation on the Moblin OS for low-end devices such as MIDs and handhelds, after spinning-off that homegrown effort to the Foundation this April.

Now comes word not only of the Chrome OS partnership with Google, but also rumors coming out of Taiwan that Intel is in talks with Google about support for Google's Android OS on Intel-based MIDs. Intel's Knupffer was not immediately able to comment on that report.

The desktop is already Intel territory, with the majority of Windows boxes and all Mac OS X machines running on the company's processors, but this flurry of Intel activity at the mobile end of the computing landscape should come as no surprise.

Intel's CEO Paul Otellini made it abundantly clear at a recent investors' confab that netbooks, handhelds, consumer electronics, and embedded applications were his company's next targets. "That's what we're aiming at," he said. "This is where we think the growth opportunity is for us."

And then there's Intel's move into the system-on-chip (SoC) space, as evidenced by their IP-sharing and manufacturing partnership with Taiwan's mega-chipper TSMC, plus Intel's plan to take one more step towards SoC-dom with its Pine Trail two-chip Atom platform scheduled for release later this year.

While Moblin and Android are no direct threat to Microsoft's commanding market share in the laptop arena, we'd love to be a fly on the wall in Redmond conference rooms this week, where discussions about Intel's "privy-to-the-project" statements about Google Chrome OS are undoubtedly underway.

Although Windows appears to be winning the war against Linux as the netbook OS of choice, the same battle against a deep-pockets giant with brand equity as powerful as that of Google would be different fight entirely.

And it appears that Intel is perfectly willing to hold both Microsoft and Google's coats during that dust-up. ®

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