Google Chrome OS is a game changer

Google Chrome OS is a game changer

Summary: Late last night Google finally owned up to having an OS in the pipeline the Google Chrome Operating System. This is going to be a game changer.


Late last night Google finally owned up to having an OS in the pipeline the Google Chrome Operating System. This is going to be a game changer.

We don't have a lot of information on Chrome OS just yet, but what we do know is very interesting:

  • It's open source
  • It's a lightweight OS aimed at netbooks
  • It'll be available to consumers in the second-half of 2010
  • It'll run in x86 and ARM processors
  • The idea is for you to be on the web in seconds

Should Microsoft be threatened by this announcement? You bet.

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.

There's also a clear shot in Microsoft's direction:

We hear a lot from our users and their message is clear — computers need to get better.

While it's clear that Google's intention for Chrome OS is for it to be a platform for users to access web-based services (Google web-based services ...), given that this OS is based on the Linux there's no reason not to assume that the OS could be a platform for all sorts of apps. In fact, I think that Google shouldn't be too focused on web-based services and add a sprinkling of apps too (and make sure it's easy for users to find more).

One thing's for sure, this is a game changer. Big style. So far, Linux and open source as a whole hasn't had a major company giving it momentum in the consumer market. While people might not have a clue what an Ubuntu or Linux or FOSS is, people do know what Google is, and this means that for the first time, Linux represents a serious threat to Microsoft's business.

Anther factor that makes this a game changer is that it represents an unorthodox way to make money from an OS. Microsoft's business model is based on fostering a platform, but ultimately it has to sell each and every new OS to users. Apple ties the OS to the hardware, in effect giving the OS away for free. Google will be looking at using ad revenue to make this venture worthwhile. Microsoft is vulnerable at the lower-end of the price spectrum because the cost of the OS represents a significant chunk of the overall cost of systems. A free OS pushed by a big name like Google could quickly gather momentum, especially are more and more people find that there is indeed a life beyond Windows.

Another interesting question here is how does this move by Google affect its relationship with Apple? Scan the board of directors for both companies and you see a crossover - Google CEO Eric Schmidt. As Google takes aim at the consumer electronics market, this relationship could become strained.

Note: Arthur D. Levinson is also a director on both boards.

All that said, it is important to inject realism into the debate. Microsoft is unlikely to stand still and hand the netbook market to Google. Microsoft knows what the consequences are to its bottom line if it loses its grip on the OS market. That means that Google has a fight on its hands. Still, there's no doubt that this will shake up the OS market, and that's a good thing. At the very least, we'll see some innovation.

Topics: Software, Browser, Google, Microsoft, Operating Systems

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  • this is just another silly idea

    don't you understand that people want more than web-surfing on computers? be it netbook, notebook, desktop or what ever.

    if google means business then it means my smartphone offers more capabilities than this so called web OS calle google chrome OS
    • Conversely

      A laptop without a good internet/browsing connection is quite useless. Google already offer a smartphone OS (which I've no experience with). I see no reason why they would offer <i>fewer</i> capabilities in their netbook OS than in Android.

      All speculation at this point. No point praising or condemning the quality of a product to be released one or two years away.
      • A laptop without an internet connection is useless?

        Only if you're running ChromeOS.

        My Windows based laptop is enormously useful whether it has connectivity to the internet or not! Without the internet, I can still write code, read and write email, write & read documents, project plans, etc. I can still listen to music, watch movies, play games, etc.

        But that's because I don't rely on the internet being there in order to run my life.

        Remember, the majority of the worlds' population exist outside the US and more developed parts of the world. For them, internet connectivity is still a luxury and broadband is a pipe-dream.
        • Very True...

          Chrome isn't anything to get excited about, remember the fanfair on the browser -- same thing with this version of Linux.
        • RE: A laptop without an internet connection is useless?

          Google already offers apps that handle offline
          access to its web services for one thing. But
          just because its a Netbook, doesn't mean it
          relies on the net to funtion. I have two other
          netbooks, and I use one of them offline almost
          exclusively. They exist for their size and

          And what part of it runs on Linux makes you
          think that it will be limited to net
          functionality, what other laptops can you think
          of that are limited in that way? None, and
          it'll stay that way. Google isn't stupid, they
          just have money they need to blow through, and
          if it comes in the way of providing a credible
          adversary to Microsoft products that causes MS
          to finally up its game, fine. But MS has not
          done anything useful in years, and charged a
          lot for it, this threat may cause changes. If
          nothing else, that alone makes the ChromeOS
          laptop anything but useless.
          • Google's KEY GOALS are...

            1) To get your eyeballs in front of their sites. That way they can sell advertizing.

            2) To get your data. That way they can analyze more about your interests, activities, events, hobbies, favorite music, movies and movie stars, predelictions, etc. and target advertizing at you.

            Make no mistake, advertizing is pretty much their only significant source of revenue, and that's not going to change by giving away a free OS.

            Google are a corporation who have to answer to shareholders. They're going to have to receive some form of financial reward for their effort in creating and driving things like Chrome & ChromeOS. That reward will come from advertizing and/or paid-for services.

            Don't fool yourself into thinking that they're doing this out of the goodness of their own hearts.
          • And to your latter points ...

            1) You state that MS hasn't done anything useful in years? Hmmm. Interesting. If that was the case then they wouldn't be selling anything. Whilst MS may not have released anything that YOU find useful/interesting, I suggest that customers of Office, Sharepoint, Exchange, Communicator Suite, Visual Studio, Expression, Silverlight, XBox (have you SEEN Natal?), Zune, SQL, Biztalk, Exchange, Hyper-V, and, of course, Windows7 & Server 2008R2 ... might, just might, disagree with you.

            2) Chrome on the other hand is a stripped down Linux-based OS who's primary goal is to get your onto the web ASAP. Google need you on the web viewing sites displaying their adverts. That's how they pay their bills. They're not building ChromeOS to replace Windows - they're trying to move you, your apps and your data to the web without much (if any) local experience.

            The day you opt into allowing google to own your entire experience is the day you submit yourself to something that is more borg-like than MS could ever dream of achieving.
        • Worded poorly (my bad)

          While I can also perform all those actions on my laptop, many of them (for me) require an internet connection at some point. If my laptop [i]could not[/i] connect to the internet, it's usefulness would deteriorate vastly.

          I think that is better wording.

          What use a person will get from internet connection will vary, of course. Local horsepower leads to a better & smoother experience for many applications. Many other applications can be improved by how they interface with the network, and an OS designed for this might throw a new perspective on that. Logically one would assume that designing an OS for networking would be appropriate for devices designed for networking. Google have done a good job of this on the server side. Whether ChromeOS will be any good is a matter of speculation.
      • ZD/Net's Imported Frothing M$FT Ballmer-Sucking Bigots Aside....

        I have a G-1 handset which uses Android, and while it's got its share of 1st-gen bugs, I like it better than any M$FT OS I've seen other than Windows 7. So yes, I don't know why they're trying to reinvent the wheel with this "Chrome OS" when they could just fiddle a bit w/Android, and make that a highly-capable Netbook OS.

        Stepping back for a second, Adrian - few people can match my utter hate and contempt for Micro$haft Products, and the fanbois who clutter this board w/their "I LURRVE MICROSOFT!!!!" Right-Wingtard gibberish. But Windows 7 RC is [b][i]also[/b][/i] an extremely capable, and more importantly [b][i]lightweight[/b][/i] , OS - if they can bring those qualities to the shrinkwrap version and keep the cost reasonable, they don't have to sweat Google's or any other competitor's OS at all. Yes, Windows 7 is that good -

        ::sniff! sniff!:: Why am I smelling frozen brimstone...?
        • I agree to an extent...

          The "Right-Wingtard gibberish" is the funniest thing I've read all year!
          Can I use that? Seriously I agree with all of that part - there is very
          much a MSFT Mafia here on the ZDNet boards. The bits I'm struggling
          with are Windows 7 being "...that good" (It is [i]very[/i] good, I agree,
          but the benchmark was set incredibly low by Vista, [i]anything[/i]
          seems an improvement over that*) and cost. I don't believe that
          Microsoft know how to not rip people off. The price of SCC (netbooks
          et c.) has increased almost exponentially since Microsoft became
          involved - with Samsung releasing the NC30 for $700. Wow!

          *I was involved in testing before the public beta's. Like many beta
          testers from that period will tell you, Vista was exciting! Genuinely
          very impressive. Somehow between the first RC and RTM, Microsoft
          manages to turn it into an utter POS that required two major service
          packs to repair. The same happened with XP and NT - what is to stop
          them making the same mistakes [i]again[/i]?
          • Cross Your Fingers !

            " Like many beta testers from that period will tell you, Vista was exciting!
            Genuinely very impressive. Somehow between the first RC and RTM,
            Microsoft manages to turn it into an utter POS that required two major
            service packs to repair. The same happened with XP and NT - what is to
            stop them making the same mistakes again?"

            Here's Hoping !
    • Not silly at all

      I have a desktop and a laptop (Vista). Although I have all kinds of apps on the laptop, in truth, all I do with it is go on the web and use web-based apps (Gmail, Google docs, for example).
      If there was an OS that allowed me to boot my laptop and get on the web in seconds, I would give it a very serious look. Google got the right idea.
      • My Win7 laptop cold-boots in 23s

        The same laptop resumes from sleep in < 2s.

        I only need to reboot it once per month when I take the latest updates from Microsoft.

        I am more than willing to sacrifice 23s or less of my life to start up a machine that I can use to surf the web. And play games. And write code. And prepare my accounts, expenses, etc. And build websites. And IM my firends. And watch movies. And a million other things that a stripped down OS will NOT let me do.

        Whilst I think that ChromeOS may be of use in limited-function web surfing tablets/netbooks, I for one would rather blow my cash on a machine that is NOT as limited and which gives me the freedom to do what I want when I want to do it.

        I can't imagine that ChromeOS will render a machine useful when I am out of range of the nearest internet connection.
        • 23s

          You better shut it down and check for Conflikr or some
          of the other mountain of malware that accumulates on
          this monolithic system. You might even have a key
          logger and not even know it. Ah! but then MS is going
          to provide free malware tools, how nice of them.
          • Ermmmm? Whut?

            I've not run ANY anti-malware software since Vista RTM other than what already ships in the OS (Defender & MSRT) and have never ever been affected by ANY malicious software.

            But then again, I don't run EXE's that I don't trust.

            I don't install pirated (and subtly infected) software from my nearest torrent.

            I don't agree to install "this important codec" in order to view some site's porn movies.

            I leave Windows Update turned on so received the patch to prevent Conficker (and several other forms of malware) MONTHS before it broke out.

            I am a geek, and periodically check what's starting up on my machine and what's running using the Sysinternals suite (

            That way I can keep my machines clean and problem free and let me get on with my work/fun without worry.
          • You might have a point but...

            I suspect you just need help dealing with your feelings of hostility.
          • He's frustrated after his last windoze machine lost all his papers because

            of a windoze virus. Were you expecting him to be thrilled with the experience?

            Of course he has feelings of hostility towards windoze and all those that keep shoving it down peoples throats.
            InAction Man
          • Any popular OS is going to be hunted.

            I meant that the way I said it. There is money in net bots. Once any OS gets up to 20% of the market security by obscurity is gone.

            Unless an OS has a decent share of the market a lot of companies won't write software for the OS.

            However most attacks aren't through viruses in this day and age. Malware has gone a long way since then and some of it is aimed at Macs.

            Don't really know about Linux. Jackalopes may need to become more common before they are worth hunting.
        • According to Google ...

          ... that is 21 seconds too long ... (!sic)
      • Well, according to many, there already ...

        ... is such an OS. Linux can be trimmed back pretty far to maximize performance and, with some careful tuning, a minimal XP, Vista,or Windows 7 implementation can come very close.

        With a few simple changes, I can boot my laptop to a Windows 7 desktop in 50 seconds. From hibernate, I can reduce it to 25 seconds, and from sleep, I can reduce it to 5 seconds. With an SSD, I am sure that all three of those numbers can be redsuced dramtically.

        The problem is that people want the "pretty graphics" without the performance hit.

        Maybe ChromeOS can do it on a netbook platform but to expect Google to displace Windows on the desktop or laptop (especially in a business setting), is just silly.
        M Wagner