Google's much-anticipated operating system, Chrome OS, will be available for download next week. That is at least according to a "reliable source" cited by TechCrunch, who claims we can expect official driver support only for a small set of devices in this early version.

When first announcing the project back in July, Google had pledged to make its source code available before the end of the year. This rumor seems to be in line with those promises. However, without proper driver support the operating system will be useless to the average user. By the sound of it next week's release will most likely be just a collection of code meant for software developers to tinker with.

As earlier reported, Google's operating system is built on a Linux foundation and should be very Web-centric. Chrome OS applications will run right in the browser, and they'll be cross-compatible with other standards-compliant browsers on other platforms. Companies like Acer, Asus and HP are reportedly backing the project and may have netbooks running Chrome OS ready for customers in the second half of 2010.