ChromeGoogle’s browser-based operating system for personal computers will be released to the public “within a week,” claims TechCrunch editor Mike Arrington, who says he has inside sources.

The small, fast, and hopefully bug-free system, called Chrome OS, is a direct attack on Microsoft’s dominant operating system, Windows. Chrome OS exploits the fact that the browser has become a better place for people to work, because it’s more direct. For example, it takes advantage of the fact that most interactive Web content now runs within an Adobe Flash player, and many computer users are using cloud-based computing services that eliminate the need for installed desktop software.

Chrome OS consists of Google’s Chrome browser running on top of a Linux operating system. It’s designed to run nearly all functions via the browser. When the Chrome browser was first released in September, 2008, Google published a comic-book intro to Chrome aimed at software developers but accessible to lay people.

An early launch of Chrome OS could undermine sales of Microsoft’s Windows 7, since Chrome is free.