So... whatever happened to Google's Chrome OS?

So... whatever happened to Google's Chrome OS?

Summary: It was just about a year and a half ago that Google started talking up plans for its Chrome OS. As I recall, a number of bloggers and reporters began tolling the death knell for Windows at that time, claiming Google's "operating-system-less" OS would trump Windows 7, Windows 8 and maybe even Mac OS X. So where is it?

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It was just about a year and a half ago that Google started talking up plans for its Chrome OS. As I recall, a number of bloggers and reporters began tolling the death knell for Windows at that time, claiming Google's "operating-system-less" OS would trump Windows 7, Windows 8 and maybe even Mac OS X.

So where is it? In June 2009, Google officials said to expect Chrome OS to ship in the second half of 2010. In mid-November 2010, CEO Eric Schmidt said Chrome OS was still a few months away. Schmidt also said that Android should be considered the touch-centric OS, whereas Chrome OS is more suited for machines with keyboards. But that isn't stopping folks from pining for a Chrome OS tablet.

I had a chance to ask the Googlers about Chrome OS  recently, and was told that a preview version of Google OS is still going to hit this year and be available in test form on several new form factors.

Bottom line: Google, like Microsoft, is not going to have a viable iPad competitor available in time for holiday 2010. Yes, I know about the HP Slate 500, the Dell Inspiron Duo and the LG E-Note H1000B. I think Microsoft officials would agree (privately, if not publicly) that these Windows 7 slates are not true iPad competitors because of their weight, battery-life longevity (or lack thereof), price, no app store -- or all of the above. I also realize there are Android tablets/slates out there, but the ZDNet blogging contingent seems to agree these devices aren't really ready for prime-time.... (Or, as ZDNet's Larry Dignan so delicately put it: "Android tablets are a big fail.")

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has said that once Intel delivers its Oak Trail processors, Microsoft and its partners will deliver Windows slates that can be considered iPad competitors. So maybe we'll see a Google OS vs. WinPad slate slug-fest by mid-2011? However, Apple probably will have delivered its lighter-weight iPad 2 by that time...And who knows what, if anything, will come of Microsoft's ServiceOS (the browser-centric Microsoft research project, formerly known as Gazelle.)

Should make for an interesting CES 2011 and beyond...

Topics: Windows, Browser, Google, iPad, Microsoft, Mobility, Operating Systems, Software

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • RE: So... whatever happened to Google's Chrome OS?

    Does anyone really care? With Intel's Atom and ARM's platforms becoming so powerful, is there really a need for this lightweight OS?<br><br>Maybe, but it will be a niche thing, not a competitor for Windows, Android or iOS.<br><br>Any hardware capable of running Windows should and will run Windows. <br>Most ARM based devices will run Android.<br><br>Chrome OS is in no way a replacement or a competitor, it will only fill a niche (that I'm not sure exists).<br><br>Oh and despite that the HP Slate 500 is not an iPad competitor, it's a better option for many - people who want to get work done.<br><br>It turns out though, that the iPad is not alone anymore. Samsung today announced 600,000 Galaxy Tabs sold in just over three weeks, which is not that much less than the 1 million iPads sold in four weeks.<br><br>It will be iOS vs. Android for consumer slates (and Android will win, again).<br>I would not label Windows slates as competitors, but rather as productivity devices.<br>
    It will be interesting to see how much overlap there will be and whether Microsoft will make Windows 8 an OS for consumer as well as productivity devices (I certainly hope they do).
    drphysx
    • Actually, Windows is still bloated and takes a lot of resources, and does

      not run on Arm. It will be possible to deliver great devices at much lower price points with ChromeOS. As the importance of Win32 fades, families will still have one Win32 computer in the corner somewhere, but, for most of the devices, they will be able to use other platforms.
      DonnieBoy
      • RE: So... whatever happened to Google's Chrome OS?

        @DonnieBoy Read the last two paragraphs, just added.<br><br>Windows is not a competitor (yet). It's nevertheless important for the traditional, small but important, Tablet PC market.<br><br>Whether they will "unbloat" it and make it ready for consumer devices... probably not - after all, it's still Microsoft.

        Maybe it's more likely that Android will become ready for productivity devices, than Windows for consumer devices.
        drphysx
      • It looks like Android will be the default for all &quot;touch&quot; devices, but, in

        any case, Google blew it and did not deliver Gingerbread in time for Christmas. I fully agree that iPad will be the king for the next 6 months. NEITHER Android or Windows tablets will be able to touch iPad for now.<br><br>But, you can bet that Google is working overtime on getting ChromeOS right. Imagine being able to buy a monitor with a quad core Arm processor, and 2 gig of memory, ChromeOS, for not much more than simple monitors cost today. Our grand kids will not believe us when we tell them that monitors at one time would not work without a huge external box and that they failed all the time.
        DonnieBoy
      • RE: So... whatever happened to Google's Chrome OS?

        @DonnieBoy Afaik, they are already working on Honeycomb for tablet devices, whereas Gingerbread will be another "phone-only" release (which, of course, is just as good as iOS for tablets, as iOS is just a phone OS either).<br><br>And yes, that's my dream - just carrying around a slate or even just my phone and connecting it to a big screen (+ keyboard and mouse) when I get home, using it as my only computer.<br><br>Of course, such a device must allow file system access, pen input and productivity features like today's Windows (or Linux/OS X) machines - and that is why iOS (or WP7) are not suited for those future devices.
        drphysx
      • ChromeOS was DOA

        the moment they mentioned it, so like a lot of their now "gone into oblivion" offerings, they're going to let loose with some half baked product just to say "see, we delivered".

        Then it'll sit on the shelf next to Buzz, Gears, ect...

        DonnieBoy, at what point do you give up the whole [i]As the importance of Win32 fades, families will still have one Win32 computer in the corner somewhere, but, for most of the devices, they will be able to use other platforms[/i] gibberish?

        It's been going on what, 4-5 years, and yet it hasn't appeared that you'r anywher close to being right?

        My guess is that Google believed it at one time, but with the lackluster uptake (and usability) of their offerings, it looks like they're probally thinking the same thing about now. :)
        John Zern
      • RE: So... whatever happened to Google's Chrome OS?

        @DonnieBoy <br>Actually, it is hard to accuse Windows of having "bloat" or being a "resource hog" when you realize it is designed and intended for maximum hardware variety and large scale software flexibility, not for little handheld and dedicated-use personal devices. Handheld, or dedicated use, or personal devices deserve their own tailor-made OS's; leave Windows as-is, full scale, for the larger multiple-OEM open systems.
        lmenningen
      • RE: So... whatever happened to Google's Chrome OS?

        @DonnieBoy Yes, Windows is bloated. But not in any important way... PCs have grown in capabilities much, much faster than Windows has grown in bloat, despite Microsoft's best efforts. Ten or fifteen years ago, the average user was unhappy with their PC's performance, even doing fairly simple things like wordprocessing. Today, you need a tricked out system for video and other media work, gaming, some kinds of CAD work, scientific research, but not that many regular consumer things. Consumers are more likely to upgrade to a new PC just to get a new OS, rather than out of a perceived need for more performance. Even techies... most of the techies I know have moved to using laptops as their main system, despite their having a much lower performance than comparably prices desktops. That's people in the know... not a sign that the average buyer is bothered by Windows' bloat.

        This is easy to explain. First, there's memory. DRAM Memory grows in powers-of-two; every new DRAM shrink at least doubles capacity. And that's been happening since the 70s at least. Microsoft would have to work very hard to make every new version of Windows realistically 2x-4x as memory hungry as the previous version.

        CPUs increase thanks to a race -- if Intel sits around too long (as they did back in the Pentium III days), AMD jumps ahead of them. And you can't really convince people they need a better CPU this year if you don't make it faster than last year's. But the actual CPU used by regular applications, while growing, hasn't come anywhere near the growth rate of CPU performance, other than in a few select areas (gaming, video encoders).
        Hazydave
    • RE: So... whatever happened to Google's Chrome OS?

      @drphysx

      "people who want to get work done"

      So the millions of people that bought iPad's aren't getting any work done? That statement is laughable at best.
      jakenhauser23
      • RE: So... whatever happened to Google's Chrome OS?

        @jakenhauser23 No, they are not getting any serious work done on the iPad. Without things like file system access, pen input etc. it's impossible to be productive with such a device.

        Those millions of people are just hanging around, surfing the web, watching movies etc. with their iPads.

        It's not a producitvity device by any stretch of the imagination.
        drphysx
      • Clearly, &quot;drphysx&quot; you...

        Have at best a very myopic view of what productivity is. More likely you just don't know what it is, and should be offshored at once.
        zkiwi
      • RE: So... whatever happened to Google's Chrome OS?

        Haha @zkiwi I bet you've never done any work in your life. :D
        drphysx
      • RE: So... whatever happened to Google's Chrome OS?

        @jakenhauser23

        Apparently drphysx doesn't know that a number of large businesses have each bought thousands of iPads, or that sales of iPads are considered to be led by business purchases.

        But then, he likely doesn't care, because all he wants to do is put it down.
        melgross
      • RE: So... whatever happened to Google's Chrome OS?

        @ drphysx "No, they are not getting any serious work done on the iPad. Without things like file system access, pen input etc. it's impossible to be productive with such a device."

        Please stop making statements in complete ignorance. File system access is possible and we use it on our network. You can be extremely productive and do real work in ways you're obviously incapable of comprehending.
        I12BPhil
      • Just because you can't get any work done on an iPad...

        doesn't mean everyone can't. Apparently some people are smarter than you and have realized that the cloud can substitute for a filesystem. Pretty much every software vendor including Microsoft has come to this realization. Wonder why it hasn't sunk in for you yet...
        jasonp@...
      • RE: So... whatever happened to Google's Chrome OS?

        @jakenhauser23 Actually, it isn't "laughable" as much as an incomplete or misleading statement. iPad users and full-scale desktop users tend to perform different things. I.e., one usually uses a large system to perform video editing, but it doesn't make a very good mobile device.<br><br>Point being one also shouldn't counter-react by implying a mobile-device will have equivalent utility as a larger system - the nature of the two devices are too disimilar.
        lmenningen
      • RE: So... whatever happened to Google's Chrome OS?

        @drphysx Just because you discount the iPad and any iOS device as being anything productive does not in any way mean that's impossible for people to be productive with them. That being said, who ever said that the iPad or any iOS device was designed or marketed to be a productivity device? You don't like the products, we get it, move on.
        non-biased
    • Simple filesystem access on an iPad...

      "FileBrowser - Access files on remote computers"

      http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/filebrowser-access-files-on/id364738545?mt=8
      jasonp@...
    • You make so many assumptions...

      @drphysx :
      ... I can only assume they are based on lack of first-hand knowledge.

      You first ask if there's a need, yet Google and Microsoft both are working on developing that very need--in their own ways.
      * Massive storage capacity isn't needed when all your apps and files are stored 'in the cloud.'
      * Massive processing capacity isn't needed when desktop computers can be tied into a massive 'cloud-based' super network so that your hand-held only needs to activate the app and tell it what to do with what file. The hand-held then only needs to act as a smart terminal.

      As such, not only could something like Chrome be a competitor, it could flat replace all of the above by simply being a 'smart' interface.

      <i>"Oh and despite that the HP Slate 500 is not an iPad competitor, it's a better option for many - people who want to get work done."</i>
      People like whom? Writers? Honestly, with an attached keyboard any tablet could serve as a word processor. True, it may not have all the bells and whistles of a full desktop version, but if you're writing a book or article, exactly how many of those added 'features' do you really need? For that matter, with programs like <i>'Go to My PC'</i>, even then the tablet can act as a smart terminal for almost anything that the tablet can't do for itself. For that matter, you'd be surprised just how capable an iPad can be, even with its limitations.

      The Galaxy Tab? I'll admit I don't have any first-hand experience, but according to other commenters on other boards, it's anything but smooth--acting more like a 386 trying to run Win98.
      I personally don't believe the 600,000 number either, when nearly every report had opening weekend showing only 5 units in a city of over a million. However, giving them the benefit of the doubt and accepting that figure, how long will those numbers hold? If they can continue that rate, then all power to them, but somehow I think the real numbers will end up far lower.

      Personally, I think WP7 will start to get attention once people realize how much more readily it can synch with their desktops than Android. I think the standalone tablet concept will end up dying simply due to the lack of application support for the files each person wants and needs to carry from home to work and elsewhere. The tablet is proving that it can replace a large portion of the laptop computers by simply being more convenient; by making it an integrated system between desktop and mobile, the laptop itself may simply disappear.

      No, I'm not making assumptions; I'm making predictions.
      Vulpinemac
      • RE: So... whatever happened to Google's Chrome OS?

        @vulpine@... That 600,000 figure was also worldwide sales so while it is an impressive number it still isn't even close to the iPad's number with the US only release. It will be a better fit for some than the iPad but not all. Some will buy one or the other simply due to what OS it is running but only time will tell which will come out on top. While the tablet market might get flooded with Android based units I suspect just like the iPhone is in the smart phone market that the iPad will remain the top model in the market even if the OS doesn't carry the largest market share.
        non-biased