With the launch of Google Chrome OS, there are many articles about how Chrome OS is a game changer and the future of computing etc… but I just don’t get it.
Don’t get me wrong I love Google and understand the premise of ‘cloud’ computing – not only does that all makes sense – but most of us are probably using a form of cloud computing when we login into our chosen webmail package (hotmail, gmail, yahoo mail – whatever your flavour), our chosen calendar application, our chosen document creation platform (the draft of this is written using Google Docs), our chosen social network etc. What confuses me it why we need a new operating system to do that ? And how does Google benefit – will they start displaying adverts on our desktop ?
Cloud computing is great… until you lose broadband connection – and then you are in limbo. Even working in a digital agency, the pinnacle of web development, we loose connection. Not necessarily down to the broadband provider – sometimes router issues, power issues, application providers (like Google) upgrading their network or dealing with problems etc… and even though it may only be for a few hours at most… when you start to rely on the web, frustration quickly picks up. This is where traditional software wins hands down, obviously unless there is a power failure – essentially though you are only reliant on power… not broadband, power and the application providers.
In terms of traditional software I can see merits in most of the available OS platforms. Apple has OSX, and whilst I am not a fan of Apple, competition is good in the marketplace, shown perfectly with the continued improvement in OSX and the marked impact this has had on the improvement of Windows. OSX has been adopted for use on the iPhone – once again a move that made sense, and developers can easily develop for both platforms.
Microsoft has also moved Windows across platforms keeping a degree of consistency, and whilst many are happy to jump on the ‘beat microsoft up with a stick’ bandwagon, Windows has done a huge amount to bring everyone to the point we are at today with computing.
Linux in its various distributions, and although I am skipping all the distribution pro’s and con’s, the key point I’m trying to make is that Linux based systems have been ported across various platforms with success.
Even relative new comers such as the Android and WebOS I can see the merit of – OSX on the iPhone restricts users to one function at a time, and an OS that allows for multiple applications is essential in the modern world.
This is the point that I start to get confused… having developed a successful mobile platform in Android, that is starting to role out into new ‘low power’ netbook machines and tablet like devices… Google has announced Chrome OS ? I was hoping that yesterdays announcement would be about a totally new operating system, devoid of bloated and legacy code… very similar to Android… and yet it was neither. It was about Google putting its name to yet another Linux distribution ?
If that was what they were going to do, why not work with someone like Mark Shuttleworth and Canonical to make ‘ONE leading Linux distribution’… call it ‘Linux by Google’ or ‘Gubuntu’ or ‘Uhrome OS’ – but just have ONE leading distribution. Google have enough scope to promote it and Canonical has made Ubuntu into a great platform.
Google have also announced it was for use with netbooks ? So people will now choose between Android and Chrome OS ? That makes no sense – have people forgotten – generally people don’t like confusion between similar platforms – think back to VHS and Betamax – Blueray and HD DVD (and now CBHB)… once again create one great platform and port it across different devices – Gubuntu Mobile or Uhrome OS Mobile.
What about the bucket load of Android widgets being developed ? I am / was looking forward to a small portable device with a decent screen, that I can take on holiday etc and is simple and clean with plenty of easy to install widgets, and Android seemed a strong contender – now I’ll stick with my Palm Pre. In terms of widgets, will Chrome OS now have it’s own widget engine ? Or will it offer the distinct lack of extensions available for the Chrome browser (or though this is starting to develop 1 year on – if you are running the development version) ?
In summary – I am not sure what the point of Chrome OS is ? or maybe I am just feeling generally confused by the OS fest we seem to have had this year – Windows 7, OSX Leopard, Palm OS, Android, Ubuntu Karmic Koala, Maemo… do we really need them all ?