Google has announced Chrome OS, an operating system built off of the Linux kernel for desktop computers and netbooks. Are you as unsurprised as I am? I hope to god Microsoft isn’t. But then again, ever since the release of Windows XP, Microsoft has been running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off.
This, dear friends, was inevitable. But many people may be asking, why? Just like many asked the same question when Google released their Chrome Browser.
It has nothing to do with the fact that Google and Microsoft are competing like, well, Goliath and Goliath. It runs much deeper than that. As years have gone by, operating systems (well, Microsoft’s in particular) have gotten way too bloated, and the Internet has gotten way too fast. You know the routine by now: every 2-3 years, you buy a new PC, with a faster processor, faster graphics processor, bigger hard drive, and with a new version of Windows on it. And I’m sure plenty of you asked, “Why? The Internet looks the same on all of these computers!”. You’re exactly right.
How much time does anyone spend on their computer these days that’s not in a web-browser, using web-based email or web-based instant messenger? The Web Browser is the new OS (well, at least the part of it you see). Anyone still surprised that Google’s web browser and newly announced OS share the same name?
In the last few years, web technologies have gotten incredibly good at making you feel like the browser is the same as your desktop. AJAX really opened the floodgates for web-based applications that behaved like “regular” programs. As a result, Google Docs have gotten pretty damn good. In fact, I don’t even own a copy of Microsoft Office anymore, I just do all of my documents in Google Docs. I have yet to find a feature that I need they don’t have, and my documents are available to me anywhere, because they’re in the cloud.
More recent developments are pushing us even closer to a web browser OS world.
Does it shock you at all that Google has been heavily involved in providing APIs to do rich 3D graphics rendering right in the browser?
What about the HTML 5 video standard? Once codecs are decided on, embedding video will be as easy as embedding an image in your HTML. This means Flash video will be rendered obselete. Apple doesn’t look so dumb after all not worrying about Flash running on the iPhone now do they?
So, the web browser becomes the artist’s blank page, for software slingers to serve up applications for email, photo editing, making presentations, editing documents. And underneath will be the OS kernel, providing access to the hardware on your device. And that’s it. It doesn’t have to be complicated, because you don’t need to have all your software installed locally. It’s in the cloud, where it belongs.