I have had a couple days to let the news of Google’s Chrome OS announcement sink in and the more I think about it, the more end up thinking about the future of our computing.
A Google OS? I was excited about the mere rumor of this waaaaay back in 2005 (my short blog post). But undoubtedly this begs the obvious question: how will stack up against Windows? Or any “traditional” browser like OSX or Linux, for that matter. From reading the announcement, it doesn’t sound like Chrome OS will really be a direct competitor. The initial focus will be on “cloud computing,” which means doing all of the work that you need to do online. Rather than being a massive OS that will will have everything that you need locally on your hard drive, Chrome OS will be a lightweight gateway into accessing everything over the web.
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 Google Universe
This strategy is perfect for Google since they happen to be the leader in computing on the web. They offer Google Docs, Google Apps, Gmail, Google Calendar – most everything the average user will need. The only thing holding users back from going completely online is their comfort zone with native applications. It’s a big change to think about using an online text-editor, rather than loading up Microsoft Word.
See Ya Online
But the future of computer use, in my opinion is just that. Everything is moving in the direction of everything being online, available to you anywhere you are. Bandwidth is getting faster and becoming more widespread. Online access everywhere is coming. Companies see this trend and are adapting – the most attractive software almost always has an online component to it, and many new companies are developing web applications for use exclusively online. The rise of the new class of laptops, netbooks is evidence of this trend of cheap, fast, and light, made for the user who spends most of their time on the computer doing things online–there’s no need for lots of storage and a huge processor when you are doing most of your tasks online, in a web browser.
Not convinced? Chances are, you are already halfway there yourself. Think about how much of what you do online right now. Have a Facebook account? Do you use Gmail? Plan your week in Google Calendar? Photo-ordering? Banking or bill pay? For the average user, there really isn’t much that can’t be done online. Besides the every day tasks that were just mentioned, there are even web applications for project-planning, photo-editing, and even intensive graphics work.
It’s coming, and while local computing will never completely go away, especially with professionals in many fields, I believe the masses will be doing most of their computer-time online. And with that in mind, Google Chrome OS has the potential to be the leader/trailblazer in this kind of computing.
To top it all off, Google Chrome OS is free and open-source. “Don’t be evil” indeed.