Google Chrome

On December 2008 I wrote on my blog Browser Swallows OS, where I pondered on the idea of a Web OS.

The machine boots up to a totally web-based experience. The application-bar at the bottom of the screen consists of widgets and icons (links) to web-based applications. One of the apps/widgets in the apps-bar is “boot or switch to OS” (for those who may want to switch). The desktop which is the browser runtime, is tabbed. The main applications on the desktop itself are live widgets. Because it is web-based, applications are automatically updated as needed. And all (web) applications work even disconnected, when there is no access to the network.

And today, Browser Swallows OS, Part 2 — the Real Thing, was announced — see the Google Chrome OS (Google Blog).

This Chrome Web OS will be very attractive (and just in time) for the always-on Netbooks explosion that is coming. These 3G/4G/Wi-Fi Netbooks are going to be heavily subsidized by Mobile Network Operators; one recent example is Sprint offering a Netbook for 99 cents with Activation (jkOnTheRun).

Both consumers and business-alike will adopt due to its overall simplicity. Today when someones buys a Netbook, it runs Windows or Linux, but the user spends MOST of its time on the browser (over Wi-Fi).

The Chrome Web OS won’t be the best platform for gaming or graphic intensive apps –maybe; I’ve seen some JavaScript-based graphics/games that look very nice and very fluid. With HTML Canvas and Google’s very fast JavaScript VM (that is already targeted at IA-32 or ARM processors) even graphical apps might work just fine — see What is V8? But perhaps the main target is not gamers in my opinion. But for the traditional tasks – email, IM and other collaboration, documents, social networks, video, photos, calendar and contacts and so on it is perfect. Difference is that it is all resident on the cloud.

Because the main use case for Chrome OS is for connected device, I will assume the usage model requires pro-activeness from the user to sync/download ahead of time in anticipation of not being connected to the network. Or perhaps there will be a sophisticated auto-sync engine that keeps recent documents properly sync-up.

Obviously at the bottom of the stack will be a real OS, Linux, and I won’t be surprised if (some of) Android is actually adapted above the operating system.

I’ve read here and there that Chrome OS is about killing Microsoft and whatnot. Yes, sure, Google wants to kill Microsoft and any other strong competitor, as it should, but I like to believe this is deeper, and it is about the realization about the next logical steps or evolution of connected/networked applications. Combine this with the right timing (i.e. Netbooks and subsidies) and you may have the ingredients to help make this a reality.



Oh, I liked this:

@Rhymo: App becomes browser. Browser becomes OS.