Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Google Operating System

Finally Google has done it! Rumors since at least 2005 have indicated that it might happen, but it seemed nothing was real. Now Google has stepped up and revealed their strategy. Chrome (the operating system) will be for Netbooks initially, but later for regular laptops and even desktop computers. Using Chrome (the Google browser) it will be Net centric, using Web applications and storing data online and accessible from anywhere. Designed for people who "live on the web" it will boot in seconds and be ready for email, web browsing, social networking and applications that run in the browser.

Creating an OS is a huge undertaking, even for Google, so of course it will be based on the Linux kernel. Promising to open source the code, Google will attempt to leverage the work of the thousands of Linux and open source developers. A simple, fast OS for Netbooks is probably a good thing, and any alternative to Microsoft's monopoly is welcome, though I personally dislike the "cloud" computing idea. I'll keep my applications and data on my own computer, thank you very much. Sure, some online apps are a good idea, but I want to be able to use most of the programs I need even if I am not connected to the Internet (Yes I am aware of Google Gears and Mozilla Prism). At a minimum I want a locally installed word processor, text editor, email client (not just GMail), PDF viewer, audio and video player.

There is also the privacy angle. If anybody but Google, with it's excellent reputation and huge good will, did the things it does people would be screaming about invasion of privacy (and some already are). I like Google, but as someone said, we are not Google's customers, we are the PRODUCT that Google sells to the real customers, advertisers. Some caution seems to be warranted in how far we trust them (Google AND the advertisers) with our personal information. Now with the new Firefox Browser including (optional) geolocation, privacy may become an even hotter topic.

While advanced users will probably still prefer a full Linux distro even on Netbooks, this is definitely the tech story of the day, if not the year, and will be very interesting to follow as the release nears in the second half of 2010. What hardware manufacturers will offer the Chrome OS? Will you be able to install normal Linux applications? Will the OS be free? Will it be usable offline? Lots to be said, but lots have already been said even at this early stage. Here are a few links to some of the more interesting pages I have found on the subject:

BBC News

Los Angeles Times (requires free registration)

The Washington Post

New York Times (requires free registration)

Official Google Blog
(with lots of links to other pages and opinions)



10 Things We're Dying to Know About Chrome OS
(including implications for enterprise users)

Five Things Google’s Chrome OS Will Do for Your Netbook

Will the Chrome OS make Google more loved or hated in OS world?

Google's New OS Raises Privacy, Antitrust Concerns