Google becomes more like Microsoft every day. It used to be that only Microsoft could pre-announce a product to mass hysteria. After the announced plans to develop a second Linux-based operating system to complement its Android smartphone platform, though, the similarities become even more eerie.
This new project, called Chrome OS, will consist of Google’s Chrome Web browser layered atop a Linux kernel and will rely on the Web as its application development platform .Google hasn’t yet given up a lot of information about its Chrome OS – including on how USENET would be able to be accessed from the OS – so there’s plenty of room for speculation about potential features and whether the technology will give users a reason to switch from the operating systems they’re using.
On a variety of USENET newsgroups, the new OS by Google has sparked a number of discussions. such as noting facts such as it being based off a Linux distribution makes it more of an integration of Chrome into Linux than it is a revolutionary new OS.
Google’s indication (hardly an announcement) that they’re getting into the OS business comes as no surprise. It’s already got Android and it’s got Web-based apps that are now (finally) out of beta. Analysts have gone on record saying Chrome OS could dilute the Android brand, further confusing a fragmented Linux market.
Microsoft, the undisputed market champion of the desktop operating system and keeper of the fat-client flame, in responce, recently released a Technical Preview build of Office 2010, the latest iteration of its venerable productivity suite to a lukewarm reception.
It begs the question though: Does the computing world really need another operating system? Google proposes Chrome OS as lightweight and designed to serve Web apps. Most consumers don’t even know what that means. If Chrome OS doesn’t pose truly astonishing speed and efficiency gains—from install to boot-up—what is the point? The OS is the platform on which everything else rests. If the benefits of Chrome OS aren’t noticeable by agerage computer users, what’s the point? If it means that it will have no compatible newsreader out of the gates, whats the point?
Bill Gates said it was hard to really say much about Chrome OS, since Google has said so little about how it will actually work. “The more vague they are, the more interesting it is,” he said. Meanwhile, CEO Steve Ballmer suggested on Tuesday that Windows, rather than a browser-centric OS was the right approach. To bolster his argument, Ballmer noted that half of PC use today is spent doing work outside the browser.
“We don’t need a new operating system,” Ballmer said Tuesday, as part of his keynote at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference in New Orleans. “What we do need to do is to continue to evolve Windows, Windows Applications, Internet Explorer, the way IE works in totality with Windows and how we build applications like Office…and we need to make sure we can bring our customers and partners with us.”
Google’s decision to target the netbook market may help the prospects of Chrome OS. Although Microsoft has made a concerted effort to push Windows on netbooks to fend off low-cost Linux-based challengers, Google may find it easier to compete in the netbook market because access to cloud-based services and software is more valuable on devices with constrained resources than on high-powered desktop computers.