Posts Tagged ‘internet’

Google Chrome OS – the next big thing?

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

So, Google announced their development (and impending release) of their so-called “Chrome OS”.  Because Google has a huge amount of resources and has a track record of delivering at least some revolutionary stuff (search + adwords, obviously, but Android and their locality-aware search stuff are promising), this is getting quite a lot of press. Given that this is not their first foray into Linux distributions, I think some of the novelty here might be a bit overstated.  Google’s done a Linux distribution before – this is not groundbreaking. Yes, it’s been for different target markets (server w/ no UI, or handheld with a very customized, simplified UI), but still, let’s not pretend Google is going out on a limb when they have, in fact, been comfortably seated on this branch for a while now. The interesting, new aspect to me is that this could become ubiquitous on a large class of PC-ish hardware (netbooks), which could seriously impact the overall ecosystem of hardware vendors (targeting/supporting Chrome OS) and developers (moving to Chrome OS from… probably other Linux distribution).

Will developers stop working on Ubuntu and hack away on Chrome OS? Well, a lot of the open-source community seemed to really covet Mac OS from the beginning (specifically the closed-source Aqua interface), and Ubuntu never really seemed to adequately whittle down the configuration GUI tools into simple, usable applications the way Apple has with OS X.  (Yes, you can do everything at the command line — that’s not the point.  If that was the end of it, Linux would have 50% market share by now).  So if Chrome OS is sufficiently slick and finally puts some of the “just plain works” polish on Linux, who knows. How Google “welcomes” the open-source community, particularly if/when they attempt to tell Google how they ought to handle their own operating system or if they manage to introduce incompatible/problematic “enhancements”, will be interesting.

Or, maybe it’ll be completely locked down & just a glorified enhancement to Android, specifically (and only) for a subset of netbook hardware.  Preliminary announcements from Google suggest that’s a distinct possibility.  I’m skeptical of the Chrome OS project — the “the Web is the computer” marketing sounds all too familiar — but I’m also undeniably interested in how this could change the landscape of desktop computing, particularly as it pertains to the existing players in desktop operating systems.