Positive reaction given to Google Chrome OS announcement but questions are raised over its ability to take a market share from Microsoft

A planned operating system from Google has created a mostly positive reaction.

Following the announcement by the company that it was ‘attempting to re-think what operating systems should be' and that Google Chrome OS will be designed to be fast and lightweight, experts claim that they will welcome the competition but that it may take time to get off the ground.

Don Leatham, senior director of solutions and strategy for Lumension, claimed that the Chrome OS will suffer the same fate as the browser, which ‘has progressed in leaps and bounds from a security standpoint, when first released, it was riddled with security problems'.

Leatham said: “However, Chrome security seems to have stabilised (comparatively.) Many Chrome proponents claim this is due to the advanced security architecture implemented in Chrome. I believe there is a good chance that the simplicity of Chrome OS and the Chrome browser, with Google's clean-sheet security design approach, will enable it to immediately surpass the comparative security levels of Windows IE8.

“All in all, I'm excited that we may soon have a new-generation web solution stack that is designed with security as a key component. There will be some expected shake out in the beginning, but I expect Chrome OS, over time, to significantly reduce the number of client-focused exploits. Web app developers prepare! You are next on the target list.”

Carl Leonard, security research manager for EMEA at Websense, said: “Google's intention to redesign the underlying security architecture of the Operating System is commendable, however all software is susceptible to issues – it just depends on how much effort the malware author wants to go to and how much profit can be made.

“Already we have seen vulnerabilities and issues with the Chrome browser, and Google even ran a contest in which two well-known security researchers found 12 exploitable security flaws in the company's Native Client system.

“Two of the top three security threats (SQL injection, browser vulnerability and rogue AV) rely on software flaws so we know that it's likely that malware authors will be looking for flaws in the Chrome OS to take advantage of from day one. It's a great philosophy to design an OS for today's environments, but will Google deliver? And when will we see the first attack against Chrome OS? We'll be keeping a close eye on things to be ready to protect our customers.”

Alex Eckelberry, president and CEO of Sunbelt Software, claimed that this would cause concerns for Microsoft, as what is being proposed is lightweight but may ultimately be usable on any desktop PC.

Eckelberry said: “But the use of Chrome all comes down to one question: are users willing to give up their Microsoft applications? Are business users willing to give up interoperability with the rest of their organisation, with the wealth of business applications designed for the Microsoft environment?

“Ultimately, the success of the Chrome OS will depend on the third party applications available for it. The fact that Google has some applications already developed is helpful. But it is very, very hard to get any real headway on Microsoft.

“Remember, despite Linux dominating the netbook market, the minute Microsoft started offering XP Home on these machines, was the minute that the tide changed. Windows XP now has over 90 per cent market share on netbooks, and I don't expect that to radically change any time soon.”

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