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Week in review: Browser breakthroughs

From Azure to Windows 7 to Firefox, operating systems and browsers grabbed headlines this week as Google proved, with its unveiling of Chrome OS, how interrelated they are.

It was a busy week in the worlds of browsers and operating systems, as Google proved--with its unveiling of the browser-based Chrome OS--that the two are colliding.

Imagine a computer experience that's much like TV: flip a switch and it's on. That was the vision conveyed by Google Vice President of Product Marketing Sundar Pichai Thursday as he offered the public its first look at Chrome OS, the new operating system based on the company's Chrome browser.

Chrome OS eliminates the boot loader and optimizes the kernel so that all the services that normally load with an OS start-up don't load until they are needed, Pichai explained.

Although Chrome OS is a year away from release, Google released the source code for the project on Thursday. It also relayed, through it's demo of the OS, a bit about how it thinks the Netbook should evolve. For one thing, Google plans to develop a detailed specification of hardware components that Chrome OS Netbook makers must adhere to in order to use the operating system.

"We really want software to understand the underlying hardware," Pichai said.

The Chrome OS unveiling came on the heels of sneak previews from Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles. Among those was the release of an Office 2010 beta, with new features such as a mechanism for connecting Outlook to social networks.

The software giant announced plans for the formal launch of Windows Azure, the cloud-based operating system that lets developers write programs that run on servers in Microsoft's data centers. It will be in production for all users starting January 1.

And Microsoft showed it's serious about building a competitive browser with the first glimpses of technology in Internet Explorer 9.

Not to be forgotten in the browser wars, Firefox maker The Mozilla Foundation, reported revenue grew 5 percent to $79 million in 2008. The organization also noted that it's not interested in building a Firefox OS.

More headlines

Feds: Top e-tailers profit from billion-dollar Web scam

An investigation by a Senate subcommittee says millions of Americans were "tricked" into signing up for online membership clubs and were betrayed by many Web retailers.

AT&T loses first legal battle against Verizon ads

A federal judge has denied AT&T's request to force Verizon Wireless to stop running advertisements comparing the operators' 3G wireless networks.

AOL: We need to fire 2,500 'volunteers'

Layoff program begins December 4, just before spinoff from Time Warner. AOL says cuts will drop its annual operating expenses by $300 million.
• Nokia to lay off up to 330 R&D staffers
• AOL to sell MapQuest, maybe to Microsoft?
• AOL to spin off Dec. 9, begin trading Dec. 10

Antitrust concerns linger in Google Books deal

Opponents of Google Books settlement say the search giant will still have exclusive rights to digitize orphaned out-of-print works.
• Judge sets February hearing for new Google Books deal

Modern Warfare 2 tops entertainment industry, not just games

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was one of this year's most anticipated titles, but Activision figures now estimate that its launch was even bigger than expected.

Ballmer: Windows 7 selling like hotcakes

At Microsoft's shareholder meeting, the CEO says the OS has sold twice as fast in its early days as any prior version of Windows. He also takes a few shots at Apple.

Computer glitch slows U.S. air travel

A computer glitch causes flight delays and cancellations Thursday morning, but the FAA says that its main flight processing system is now back up and running.

Consumers to plug into home energy displays?

Dozens of companies are prepping tech to help consumers find ways to save energy, but it's hard to say which approach will stick.
• Photos: Home energy displays show you the juice
• California approves efficiency mandate for TVs

Also of note
•  IBM: Computing rivaling human brain may be ready by 2019
•  Paul Allen diagnosed with cancer
•  The 411 on early-termination fees (FAQ)
•  Al Gore: Our next power grid will be like the Net
•  Next year's Flip will do Wi-Fi