Just when I thought I couldn't stomach even one more post about Google's Chrome OS, I stumbled onto Michael Miller's "Google's Chrome OS: Maybe Not a "PC" OS After All" piece from July 9.
Reading it, I had one of those "aha!" moments. Miller suggests that those of us who are comparing Chrome OS to Windows (or even to Linux) are comparing tangerines to kumquats. Windows is a PC operating system. Chrome OS -- based on the little we know about it -- is not.
It's not just a semantic distinction. A PC operating system assumes users can and will install third-party applications and connect up various peripherals. Chrome OS may not support either of these things, based on early indicators.
"... I started thinking: What if the (Chrome) OS really is completely web-focused? If so, a user wouldn't need--or be able--to download or install any application, or indeed any file. Instead, you'd just use the browser and run a web application, whether Google Apps, or Picasa Web, or Photoshop.com."
A netbook running such an operating system would be all about Web surfing and not about running local apps, as Miller points out: "No Microsoft Office, of course; but also no Open Office, iTunes, or even a local mail client, although a webmail client could be cached by Google Gears."
Miller notes that such a system isn't what today's netbook users seem to want. Remember all the outcry over Microsoft limiting netbook users with Windows 7 to three concurrent apps -- which resulted in the company recently reversing its position?
"The first netbooks mostly ran Linux, which again can boot faster, has fewer problems with malware, and is less expensive than Windows. But the vast majority of users wanted Windows XP, because they wanted the interface they were familiar with, application compatibility, and support for all their devices."
Perhaps netbook makers will create yet another subclass -- along the lines of Mobile Internet Devices or "Mobile browsers" as Miller suggests.
And maybe Microsoft's retort here will be something other than Windows (or its Gazelle browser/OS research project)... Maybe it will be a combination of an embedded version of Windows, with a customized/Alchemized interface running on a new kind of CMD (Connected Media Device)... (Where are you, Microsoft magician J Allard?)
Just some more food for thought... in the absence of any real details (so far) from Google.