While rumors of a Chrome-centric OS have been floating around for sometime, Google made it official today by announcing on their blog “a new project that’s a natural extension of Google Chrome — the Google Chrome Operating System”. In other words the Google Chrome OS is a reality and we will start seeing it on netbooks sometime next year. Although the announcement was six short paragraphs there’s quite a bit to digest.
… the operating systems that browsers run on were designed in an era where there was no web. So today, we’re announcing a new project that’s a natural extension of Google Chrome — the Google Chrome Operating System. It’s our attempt to re-think what operating systems should be.
“What operating systems should be” versus what they are now pretty much sums it all up. I mean how many of us are sick and tired of waiting for Windows (and all it’s services) to load every morning when we turn on our laptops? It also says a lot about the direction Google is taking with this project. Cloud anyone ? The focus is to take the user directly to the browser within a few seconds of turning on the computer. All your apps and data will be “expected” to live somewhere on a cloud and will be accessible from anywhere and on any computer. This might initially not bode well for some users because not all apps live well on a browser - at the moment anyway. Case in point, presentation software like Microsoft’s PowerPoint. Initially users may be forced to use Google Apps and it may perhaps be of strategical importance for Google!
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 user interface is minimal to stay out of your way, and most of the user experience takes place on the web. And as we did for the Google Chrome browser, we are going back to the basics and completely redesigning the underlying security architecture of the OS so that users don’t have to deal with viruses, malware and security updates. It should just work.
From a technical standpoint the only services the client will need to load are the browser and the network stack and you’re pretty much ready to rock. Since all the data resides somewhere on the cloud security is virtually non-existent on the client machine.
So where does Android fit into all this?
Google Chrome OS is a new project, separate from Android. 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. While there are areas where Google Chrome OS and Android overlap, we believe choice will drive innovation for the benefit of everyone, including Google.
I have a feeling at some point the two projects will converge and we’ll probably see a derivative of Google Chrome OS running the phones and set-top boxes a la Apple and OS X.