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

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: Browser, Google, Hardware, Operating Systems, Software

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  • I can't

    I'm not online 24/7. I need local apps, as does everyone else.

    Say what you want. But network outages happen... Weather by forces of nature or human error, a network will eventually go down. It's only a matter of time.

    And knowing Google's past GMail outages, I expect the down time to come sooner rather than later.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • Agreed - nobody is online 24/7

      One draw for netbooks is that you can use them on an airplane and still have room for a drink on your lap tray. There is no such thing as "always on" Internet access in the real world. Handcuffing your netbook to Internet access will turn it into a brick during some of the times when you want to use it most. Surely, Google realizes this?
      • Guys, that is why there are OFFLINE web applications. Googles gmail already

        has that through Google Gears. When offline, you
        can read email, reply, send new email, etc. Of
        course all sent email is not sent until you re-
        connect. The offline functionality will advance
        rapidly over the next year.
        • in my experience

          in my experience, it only works in gmail. Docs,
          which is the more important app, doesnt seem to be
          able to keep my documents in sync on my netbook.
          If I loose connection, I loose my document.
        • So we get to read email when on the plane?

          Wow that really beats watching a movie rental in itunes.
        • For sure, but unless I'm missing something

          the Chrome OS or, rather the machines it will run on will not have any concession made for local storage of documents or whatever you might want to store. Email is one of MANY things people want to do while offline.

    • Not just network outage

      If I have a multi-core cpu, an above-average graphic card, enough memory and hard drive space, a microphone and a camera, I want an OS that can best utilize it all to give me the top user experience. So why would I use a dumbed down WEB OS for it while I can install Windows, OS/X or even a brand new Ubuntu?
      • Hardware on demand.

        It's more energy efficient. That means centralise.
        • Hardware cannot be streamlined ...

          and then downloaded to your local environment. On demand is a feature at server side / data center only.
          • Rather than everybody powering their own supercomputer

            to run Vista (bad for the environment you see), people will utilise remote processing power and have cheaper local devices with good comms and displays.

            Simple really.
          • Pigs are flying in the sky ...

            while we are speaking, trust me.
          • Go buy your supercomputer to run Vista dude.

            What? Oh you already did get suckered into that. So Win7 is great because ....?
          • Have you realized it's 21st century already?

            I didn't know a multi-core cpu = supercomputer. Not currently.
          • Give him a break...

            He's probably running a P4 with 256MB RAM, believing because it was sh1thot 10yrs ago, that it must still be so. Welcome to the new millennium mate.
          • I run Vista and my cpu idles at 1%

            We already have power on demand. There's always been a push towards power efficiency because of laptops.
          • ChromeOS doesn't make a netbook greener

            Laptops and netbooks don't use energy until
            they're charged. The energy used in four hours
            to charge a netbook battery is twice as much as
            my PC uses in a twenty-four hour period of
            high-end gaming. That makes me greener than
            anyone who uses a netbook, as I never use a
            computer for more than twelve hours a day, I
            never high-end game for more than three, and
            people charge their netbooks whenever they're
            home. An OS for a battery-powered computer
            would not make it greener just because it uses
            less energy when you're using it.
    • Agreed...and one of the main reasons Google Docs

      has received luke warm responses from our users. We have some "young" managers that are betting on Google mail and docs... Hey it's just a tool to me but our users are very spoiled and very, very demanding - especially offline.
      • Not demanding ...

        ... just ignorant and unable to adapt to a paradigm without a blue "E" and a nice "Copyright Microsoft Corporation" splash screen.

        Still, at least you are nearly beginning to see the light.....
        • Underestimating the Problem

          I use Gmail, and I occasionally use Google Docs, but I think you're underestimating just how limiting the Google Docs office environment is right now.

          Yes, Google Docs has a lot more formatting options than it used to have, and the Spreadsheets app certainly has come leaps and bounds from where it was. Having said that, though, there are really [i]basic[/i] things you can't do with these documents so far:

          1) Macros
          2) Column filtering in spreadsheets
          3) More output filters
          4) More format options

          And that's before you even get into the limitations of Google Chrome versus Firefox.
          • Stop looking over your shoulder.

            Look forwards and see the future dude.

            PS. It ain't Microfoolmeoncefoolmeforever.