Google's Chrome OS: Will you give up desktop apps?

Summary:Google revealed a bevy of noteworthy developments for its Chrome OS, but the success or failure of the Chrome OS will ride on whether users will give up desktop applications.

Google on Thursday revealed a bevy of noteworthy developments for its Chrome OS. The company released the Chrome OS to the open source community, laid out its security vision and promised to deliver a simple operating system. However, the success or failure of the Chrome OS will ride on whether users will give up desktop applications.

Sundar Pichai, Vice President of Product Management, outlined the Chrome OS, noted that "there's a paradigm shift in computing" presumably to netbooks and noted:

"Every application is a Web application. There are no conventional desktop applications."

And there's the rub.

The Chrome browser on Chrome OS will be "blazingly fast" with a demo boot time of 3 seconds or so. The security picture is solid. And since the Chrome OS is connected to the Web, silly things like updating and installation will go away.

Also: Inside the Google Chrome OS security model

Live from Googleplex: Chrome OS details revealed · Google Chrome OS announcement · Google makes Chrome OS open source today · Google blog · Techmeme · Video: Early previews of Chrome OS ·

Gallery: Chrome OS revealed

Simply put, Google's vision rides in the cloud. The devices that run the Chrome OS will have all data in the cloud and depend on wireless cards and Wi-Fi. Google said it would specify what wireless cards it will support. Google's mission is to give the Web applications access to all of the hardware available to today's operating systems.

So here's the question: Are you ready to give up your desktop applications?


You have about a year to answer the question and there will probably be a big debate between now and the Google OS launch with hardware partners. Google executives walked a line between pitching Chrome OS devices as a secondary computing machine, but one where you may spend the majority of your time on it.

Pichai noted that if you're a lawyer doing contracts all day Google's Chrome OS powered netbooks "won't be the machine for you."

Nevertheless, Google's moves today with the Chrome OS are notable and the company clearly thinks that its approach will be a hit. And it's hard to argue for the simplicity of a browser-based operating system, quick boot times and the move to cut out a lot of startup processes. If successful, Google can push more folks to the cloud.

My hunch is it may a while to get consumers to believe that "every application is a Web application."

There are a ton of moving parts here. Among the notable background links and ZDNet coverage:

Topics: Enterprise Software, Google, Hardware


Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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