The gauntlet has been thrown and the battles are about to begin in the war of OS supremacy. China has announced that, in an alliance between HTC and Shanghai Liantong Network Communications Technology, it has undertaken the development of it’s own operating system for PC’s, tablets and smartphones. The new operating system is called COS, for Chinese Operating System, and is being developed as a direct competitor to Android, Windows Phone and iOS. The Chinese government openly states that the strategy and motivation behind the creation of COS is two fold; to directly compete with the big players in the OS market on a global basis and to fend off the security threat from the US. The initial release of COS will be based on Linux, localized to China and will be rolled out to include; smartphone, PCs and even set-top boxes.
There are not a lot of specific details known yet about COS, but what is known is that the software supports HTML5 and will support in excess of 100,000 apps. COS was targeted for initial release in China by the close of 2013 but as of this date that has not been accomplished. But we shall see what the reality comes out to be sooner or later. Previous attempts at developing a homegrown OS have failed miserably and all the top Chinese smartphone manufactures rely heavily on Android and on PC’s the dominant OS is Windows.
As per Engadget China, during the preview event Android and Windows Phone were heavily critiqued for having very poor security and that their OS was way to restrictive. Android was said to be too fragmented and that the new COS would not suffer from any of these troubles or annoyances. According to reports though, the new COS demo seemed to indicate that they had heavily borrowed from all three of these OS’s. Even if the new COS does get completed and passes all the tests it still has a ways to go before it will become a threat to the other OS’s out there. Once completed and ready for commercial use they will still need to convince phone and computer suppliers to migrate and load the COS onto their hardware. Given the market domination of the existing OS suppliers this is no easy task. Bit I think we can rest assured that once ready, the launch of COS inside China will be welcomed, and pushed, quite strongly. Given that the Chinese market is the the largest single market in the world, if they embrace the COS it is bound to have a significant impact on all the players in the market.
And standing at the sideline and watching closely how this all plays out of course is Google. The technology giant has already waged war once regarding Chinese homegrown OS’s in a battle it had with Alibaba, the giant Chinese e-commerce company. As the owner of the Android OS, Google can weld a lot of power on this if it decides to again, and I am sure they would engage in preemptive maneuvers to block the launch of COS if they perceive it as any real threat. I don’t think it will be too long before we see has this one plays out.