Ronnie05's Blog

OS Wars (Part IV): Google, the Cloud and the OS

Google has now announced that it plans to enter the operating system game in the second half of next year with a Linux-based OS that can run on both traditional PC chips and the ARM-based chips popular in cell phones. The idea behind Chrome OS is to create an extremely lightweight operating system that boots directly to the browser, in which all applications run. Chrome, will be used in netbooks and full size desktop PCs for consumers in the second half of 2010 and aims to make web applications easier to use.

“The operating systems that browsers run on were designed in an era where there was no web,” Sundar Pichai, vice president of product management at Google. “The Chrome OS is our attempt to re-think what operating systems should be”. “People want to get to their email instantly, without wasting time waiting for their computers to boot and browsers to start up,” Sundar Pichai, vice president of product management, and Linus Upson, engineering director, wrote in the blog. “They want their computers to always run as fast as when they first bought them. They want their data to be accessible to them wherever they are and not have to worry about losing their computer or forgetting to back up files. Even more importantly, they don’t want to spend hours configuring their computers to work with every new piece of hardware, or have to worry about constant software updates.”

Google is already working with a number of manufacturers to produce and distribute the system. “It’s been part of their culture to go after and remove Microsoft as a major holder of technology, and this is part of their strategy to do it,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at Enderle Group. “This could be very disruptive. If they can execute, Microsoft is vulnerable to an attack like this, and they know it.” Google and Microsoft have often locked horns over the years in a variety of markets, from internet search to mobile software. Microsoft Windows is currently installed in more than 90 per cent of the world’s PCs. A key factor will be whether Google can strike partnerships with PC makers, such as Hewlett-Packard Co and Dell Inc, which currently offer Windows on most of their product lines.

Google brings a considerably larger arsenal and with Google Gears, Google Native Client, and a host of other projects, Google is trying to blunt many of the browser’s shortcomings, including the inability to fully tap local processing and storage. This effort will take time, as Google itself acknowledges, but the company’s full-frontal assault on Windows is definitely out in the open.

Google’s push on the open source based OS has opened up the sibling rivalry between the Linux OSs: Mark Shuttleworths Ubuntu and the Google Chrome. While Ubuntu in its present form is only a desktop based OS (Windows alternative, in classic sense) and Chrome in its promised form will be a cloud based desktop interface/OS, it won’t be too long before both these OSs confront each other on the convergence front.


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