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Google plays coy on Chrome OS

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Google is playing coy over the future of Chrome OS, its still-gestating, browser-based operating system.

When the project was first revealed in July 2009, Google said that systems based on the OS would arrive in the second half of 2010 — and through this past summer, it continued to make similar promises. But last week at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco, CEO Eric Schmidt said that a completed OS was still "a few months away," seeming to indicate a delay.

Asked if there has indeed been a delay, the company's PR arm didn't answer directly. But it did answer: "We are very happy with the progress of Google Chrome OS," a company spokesman said, "and we'll have more details to share later this year."

It does appear that the company has changed its tune. Presumably, it will announce a product before the end of the year, but the thing won't actually ship until next.

When the project was unveiled, Google said it was working with multiple hardware manufacturers on devices and components, including Acer, Asus, Freescale, HP, Lenovo, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, and Toshiba. And on some level, Dell has expressed interest in the project.

In November 2009, Google started the Chromium OS open source project, releasing an early version of the OS to world+dog. And the project has been regularly updated by Google's engineers. It would appear that the shipping OS will not be vastly different from the open source code.

Google, however, has not open sourced the firmware work that it's doing to reduce system boot times.

Rumors have indicated that Chrome OS may arrive on tablets as well as netbooks, but last week Schmidt indicated that whereas Android is used on touchscreen devices, Chrome OS would focus on keyboard-based devices. ®

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