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1 Why Chrome OS? Google says, why not? on Thu Jul 09, 2009 9:27 am

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Apparently, organizing the world's information and making it universally accessible and useful will require a new operating system.

Google has long worked on expanding its reach beyond mere Internet search. And as many had suspected, it confirmed late Tuesday night that it plans to develop a lightweight operating system based on Linux and Web standards for personal computers.
Why? Well, Google's standard response
to any question about why it's working on something other than search
is to declare that any product that helps people get on the Web, and
enjoy their experience on the Web, benefits Google's advertising
customers in that more Web users equals more Google searches.
Yet, Chrome OS represents something more. There's a competitive impact that can't be ignored, no matter how often Google insists that it's in this world to do good rather than inflict pain on other corporations.Few details were available Wednesday concerning one of the most
important and ambitious projects Google has ever undertaken. Sources
familiar with the Chrome OS project say Google engineers have only been
working on the project in earnest since the beginning of the year, so
there's likely a lot that still needs to be ironed out.
Chrome OS is the byproduct of Google thinking it can do better than Windows,
Mac
OS X, the various flavors of Linux, and even its own Android operating
system. It's long been obvious that the world has changed from a
personal computing model built for individuals working offline or
businesspeople sharing files across a workplace to one where the
consumer/business lines have blurred and people are expected to be
online anywhere and everywhere.Accompanying that shift has been the decreasing importance of
processing power and operating system complexity. For years, the dirty
secret of the computer industry has been that most people don't use
nearly the amount of headroom provided to them by modern
microprocessors and operating systems.After all, if you're searching the Web, sending e-mail, typing up
documents, touching up photos, and updating your Facebook
status--hardly an uncommon usage model--you're more concerned with
speed and battery life than raw power. Those still playing Doom or
editing video will always need something more robust, but most people
do spend an awful lot of time in the browser and have embraced
smartphones and Netbooks as a way of staying online on the go.Google's general idea seems to be twofold. First, it wants to make it
easier for regular people to use a computer by making an operating
system that is fast, secure, and lightweight enough to run on portable
devices.Sources familiar with Google's plans for the Chrome OS said that the
company is working on a new method of "windowing," or switching between
multiple applications. Google also believes that the whole idea of
storing your files and applications in folders is an archaic way of
organizing your data, and plans to unveil a new user interface that
handles things a little differently.
Secondly, Google believes that through the use of Web standards like HTML 5--promoted heavily during its recent Google I/O conference as the development platform of the future--software development on a browser-based OS will be easily understood by developers reared in the Web 2.0 era.
This is not a new idea. Palm is betting its future on such a strategy, having introduced WebOS on the
Palm Pre as a Web-friendly development environment based on a browser engine running atop Linux. Sound familiar?
Google's Chrome OS could be running on Netbooks such as these by the second half of 2010.(Credit: CNET)

Google brings much more to bear than Palm, however. It has an entire suite of Web applications and services
that already form much of what you want a computer to do: send e-mail,
compose documents, edit photos, and, of course, browse the Web.But why does Google think it needs two operating systems to address
this evolving usage model? Much of the language used to introduce
Chrome OS could have been pulled from a blog post two years ago introducing Android, Google's lightweight Linux-based open-source smartphone operating system.
Just a few months ago Google's Andy Rubin declared Android
to be "a revolution" that would help Google conquer the write-once,
run-anywhere goal that has eluded the non-Microsoft software community
for so many years. And Google executives have endorsed the concept of
other companies building things other than phones based on Android.However, Android appears to now occupy a different role in Google's
thinking. According to Tuesday night's blog post, "Android was designed
from the beginning to work across a variety of devices from phones to
set-top boxes to netbooks. Google Chrome OS is being created for people
who spend most of their time on the web, and is being designed to power
computers ranging from small netbooks to full-size desktop systems."As noted, there are an awful lot of details that still need to surface
before we can glean Google's true intent with Chrome OS, not to mention
the potential impact. Google said it plans to release the code for
Chrome OS later this year, with the expectation that devices based on
the OS could arrive in the second half of 2010.But one thing is for sure: Google's ambitions are boundless. The
company is proposing to do nothing less than rewrite the rules that
govern personal computing.

written by:


Tom Krazit


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