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Nice timing: Netbook OS startup Jolicloud raises $4.2M

Jolicloud, the company created by Netvibes founder Tariq Krim to build an operating system for netbook computers, just announced it has raised $4.2 million in a first round of venture funding.

As you may have heard, Google announced last night that it’s preparing Chrome OS, its own operating system for netbooks (the smaller, cheaper alternative to laptops), so this is both a good time (yay netbooks!) and a bad time (uh-oh, Google’s coming after you) to be building a netbook OS. When a Jolicloud spokesman notified me about the funding, he also argued that Chrome OS “validates” (startups love that word) the Paris, France company’s efforts.

We believe that there is an inevitable movement towards netbooks and cloud-based OSs and anything that helps accelerate that movement is a good thing, because users and developers deserve something better than traditional software-based models — and they deserve it now. This is not a battle over who will have the best technology platform. Operating systems are all about the interface and design, as well as the integration between both the online and offline — this what Jolicloud is focused on delivering to netbook users.

Krim’s past experience with Netvibes, which allows users to create a personalized home page for managing their online activity, should be useful too, since netbooks are mainly about enabling that online activity. Jolicloud will also be competing with the netbook OS that Intel is developing, called Moblin.

The startup’s OS is currently in private alpha (i.e., very early) testing, but Jolicloud says the funding will help it get a product out the door more quickly, with a public beta test later this year. The round was led by Atomico Ventures, with participation from Mangrove Ventures. Atomico’s Niklas Zennström, who co-founded Skype, is joining the board.

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