What Can We Expect From Google Chrome OS?

Posted by in Technology

Photo by: Mykl Roventine

Photo by Mykl Roventine

Google has taken us one step closer toward independence from native applications. Chrome OS will be a browser based operating system that circumvents the need for most locally installed software. Unlike Windows or even OS X, Chrome will not come bundled with bulky software packages. Instead it links to online versions of almost anything you could possibly need. In fact 90% of all applications the average user will ever need has a web-based equivalent. Google Docs makes it possible to open, edit and publish any office document online. The days of spending big bucks on your operating system and office suite are fast becoming a thing of the past. Even high-powered apps like Photoshop now have online alternatives. So what exactly do you need Windows for? The browser is the operating system of the future and Google stands to take advantage of this more than anyone.

Until now hardware companies have bundled Windows because the public demanded it. Windows has always been heavily flawed, but people are familiar with it. Like salmon swimming upstream to spawn, people demand Windows not because it works well, but because they are used to how it doesn’t work. people are not loyal to the Microsoft brand.? If given a better option, they?ll switch. Google’s appeal, on the other hand, is closer to that of Apple. It doesn’t attract customers, but fans ready to evangelize for almost any product Google releases. It’s easy to see why. Google may fail as often as it succeeds, but it makes up for percentages in shear volume. Google debuts new products at a feverish pace. What’s been missing until very recently was a cohesive overall strategy. Now, with the new product lineup Google is poised to become the viable third option in computing that Linux never was. As long as Google doesn?t loose focus on the goal, Microsoft will have trouble catching up.

Why wouldn’t hardware manufactures choose a free, open source operating system over Windows? It inches PC pricing down which is paramount in the new economy and makes more sense for users who can receive a product that just works out of the box rather than fumbling with Windows. Google Chrome OS may be the beginning of a new attitude towards computing. The number one growth segment in personal computing right now is netbooks. They are affordable, portable and just powerful enough to do whatever most users need them to do. While it remains to be seen, it would make sense that Chrome would be the ideal OS for these products.

Is this the ultimate triumph of open source software? Probably not. What Google is attempting is a sea change in the way we use our hardware. Google is, after all, a business. It doesn’t trumpet the benefits of open source for political reasons, but only because history has proven that open systems, in the long term, beat closed systems. Fast processors and extreme hardware become less valuable in a world where the bulk of the computing is done on servers in the cloud. It’s inevitable that many technology professionals and gamers will need large processors and native applications for at least the near future. What Chrome OS does is free the everyman from the shackles of what we once thought of as The Operating System. As high-speed Internet connections become more common and bandwidth becomes easier to obtain, why not allow the processor intensive tasks to be done off-site. Once this is accomplished the user need only have enough hardware to boot into the browser and go.

The release of Chrome OS signals that web based applications are here to stay and they will be taking an ever-larger portion of market share from their lumbering desktop cousins. And as for Microsoft?they are now on notice. Make Windows better or get out of the way. How does that song go? “Anything you can do I can do better…I can do anything better than you.” It may not be true yet, but web-based apps and the browser OS are determined to break through that glass ceiling and with Google’s help it might come about sooner than you think.

Disagree? Leave me a comment.