Wednesday, July 8, 2009

When In Chrome

I posted a few months ago about Google Chrome, my browser of choice. My favorite company in the world (sorry PPC) has decided to take Chrome to the next level. Google announced today that they are developing an open source operating system under the "Chrome" moniker. As soon as the announcement was made, online news sources ran with it and most are speculating whether the Chrome OS will be the ultimate Microsoft killer. I wouldn't go as far as to predict that, but I can definitely see Chrome making Linux more mainstream and easily becoming the leading open source operating system upon launch. A lot of my co-workers use Red Hat, Ubuntu and other open source Linux-based operating systems. I have always been a Microsoft guy mostly out of habit, but if there's one operating system that can finally turn me away from Windows it's Google's OS.

The details of the Chrome OS are a little bit vague at this point but Google mentions the overall plan for building a new web-centric OS in their press release:
Speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS. We're designing the OS to be fast and lightweight, to start up and get you onto the web in a few seconds. The user interface is minimal to stay out of your way, and most of the user experience takes place on the web. And as we did for the Google Chrome browser, we are going back to the basics and completely redesigning the underlying security architecture of the OS so that users don't have to deal with viruses, malware and security updates. It should just work.
I really like the idea of a fast OS that uses the web as the "application" backbone. This is a big move towards the idea of cloud computing where applications are run on the web rather than through traditional desktop means. Google has already proven to be the leader in the web application department with their powerful and intuitive offering of Google Docs. I don't think major corporations will be ready to make the jump to Chrome for a while (mostly due to all the client-server applications that are currently entrenched in a corporate Windows world) and Microsoft will remain the dominant player in the OS space for in the near future. However, as we move to Web 3.0 and beyond, web-based operating systems will become a reality and Google will undoubtedly have a leg up on Microsoft once again. Bing.com, Microsoft's answer to Google search, hasn't really wowed anyone thus far. I used Bing (terrible name that constantly reminds me of Chandler Bing by the way) once or twice to try it but Google gives me results I want at lightning speed. I see no reason to change my search habits.

Chrome won't officially launch until next year sometime after Windows 7 has already launched. The notion of an operating system that boots up extremely fast and gets you instant access to the web is appealing for sure. Couple that with the pristine track record of the engineers at Google and we could very well be witnessing the beginnings of a major power shift between Microsoft and the search engine giant. I don't think I'll be selling my Google stock anytime soon.

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