Google has announced plans to develop a "natural extension" of its Google Chrome browser – an open source operating system (OS) primarily designed for people who surf the web.

In a direct challenge to the dominance of Microsoft’s Windows system, the search engine said it will open-source the code for the new OS later this year and netbooks running the system could be commercially available by the second half of 2010, users of online marketing services may interest to hear.

Writing on the Official Google Blog, the company’s vice-president for product management Sundar Pinchai and engineering director Linus Upson said "speed, simplicity and security" would be the "key aspects" of Google Chrome OS.

They added that developers will completely overhaul the system’s "underlying security architecture" so "users don’t have to deal with viruses, malware and security updates".

Howard Anderson of the MIT Enterprise Centre told Reuters it could be years before the new OS mounts an effective challenge to Windows.

He predicted around two per cent of users would try out the OS in its first year. This could rise to ten per cent in the second year if it receives positive reviews.

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