2009-07-12

Google Chrome OS and How the Web Went Nuts Over It

by Anoop Engineer 6 comments




chromecartoon

Official Google blog broke the news to the world last Tuesday — Google will be releasing an Operating System soon.  And it would be based on their popular product Chrome browser.

The news spread like wild fire. Many seemed to be in a hurry to jump into conclusions. Many predicted that this move would be the first nail in the Microsoft coffin. Linux enthusiast seemed to be in a bit of a dilemma. Should they rejoice that the new OS is having a Linux kernel or should they worry over the fact that Google Chrome OS would be eating into the market share of their favorite Linux distribution?

In today’s Daily Feature, we take you through a fantastic ride through all the stuff that happened in 5 days of Google breaking the news.

July 7th 2009

It all began with Google officially releasing information about a new venture — Google Chrome OS. This is what the blog said:

Google Chrome OS is an open source, lightweight operating system that will initially be targeted at netbooks. Later this year we will open-source its code, and netbooks running Google Chrome OS will be available for consumers in the second half of 2010. Because we're already talking to partners about the project, and we'll soon be working with the open source community, we wanted to share our vision now so everyone understands what we are trying to achieve.

So Google proposes to take their Chrome browser, add a Linux kernel into it and release it by 2010. This OS will run on netbooks and is supposed to give the users a better experience than the current one.

TechCrunch was one of the first blogs to comment. In a post named Google Drops A Nuclear Bomb On Microsoft. And It’s Made of Chrome, they say:

But let’s be clear on what this really is. This is Google dropping the mother of bombs on its chief rival, Microsoft. It even says as much in the first paragraph of its post, “However, the operating systems that browsers run on were designed in an era where there was no web.” Yeah, who do you think they mean by that?

So basically, MG Siegler of TechCruch thinks that this is going to be a big blow for Microsoft. However, he ends the post saying that all is not lost for Microsoft:

But there is a wild card in all of this still for Microsoft: Windows 7. While Windows XP is 8 years old, and Windows Vista is just generally considered to be a bad OS for netbooks, Windows 7 could offer a good netbook experience. And Microsoft had better hope so, or its claim that 96% of netbooks run Windows is going to be very different in a year.

The Technologizer site came up with Eleven Questions About Google’s Chrome OS in which they ask some pretty strong questions.

Google isn’t revealing much in the way of specifics, other than that the OS is an open-source project based on its Chrome browser with a Linux kernel, and that it’s working with multiple hardware manufacturers to bring it to x86- and ARM-based netbooks in the second half of next year. It says the goal is to build an OS that boots in seconds and runs Web apps really well.

Like many big Google announcements (such as the unleashing of Chrome itself last September) this one prompts more questions than it answers.

They ask some questions that are in every common mans mind like — Why Chrome and Not Android? Just how Web-based can an OS be? Will consumers buy a Google netbook? Just how serious is Google about this?

July 8th 2009

On this day, Mashable brought out an interesting article – Chrome OS: But Will it Run Photoshop? In this article, the author Stan Schroeder argues why it won’t be an easy ride for Google Chrome OS.

Let’s look at some problems Google will inevitably face. Details aside, Microsoft’s domination of the OS market is due to two reasons:

1. It’s very hard to get all the hardware makers to create drivers (or create them yourself) for your OS.

2. It’s very hard to get all the software makers to create versions of their software that’ll work on your OS.

When it comes to software, there’s the ancient “Photoshop argument,” which can be summed up in this way: if you’re a long time Windows user, chances are you’ve got a favorite piece of software that won’t run on Linux. It can be a game, or it can be Photoshop (and no, GIMP is not that good), it can be something else, but there will always be something missing. I can live with that. I’ve always got at least three working computers at home; I can run many different OSs if necessary; many users don’t have the time or the will to do that. They want to have one computer that runs all of their stuff, period. Yes, I know Chrome OS is all about web apps. But not all apps can be web apps just yet; between the apps already supported on Linux, and all the wonderful web apps available out there, will it be enough for the average user? We’ll have to wait and see.

Windows 7 will come out before Google Chrome OS will; if it performs up to users’ expectations, it’ll be harder for Google to push through. By the time Chrome OS supports enough hardware and software to be deemed really usable by a significant portion of users, Microsoft will have a lot of time to fix things.

Wired featured Five Things Google’s Chrome OS Will Do for Your Netbook, where they mention how the Chrome OS will revolutionize the cost, speed, compatibility, portability and applications of the current netbook market.

Zdnet said No thanks Google, we've got Ubuntu:

The growing dominance of Ubuntu (at least on the desktop, the server room seems to have been won by Red Hat) has delivered the Linux community a serious advantage in its ongoing war against the incumbent Windows and Apple platforms because of its ability to give software developers a single platform to concentrate on, and polish to a degree not seen previously.

In this context, Google's decision to create its own Linux distribution and splinter the Linux community decisively once again can only be seen as foolhardy and self-obsessive.

Fake Steve Jobs, in his hilarious blog wrote the article Let's all take a deep breath and get some perspective:

First of all, nobody seems to appreciate how goddamn hard it is to make an operating system. You don't just wake up one day and fall out of bed and make one. Not even the smarty pants kiddies at Google can do that. These things take years. Decades, even. Ours started out 20 years ago, at NeXT. You could say it goes back to 1977, with the BSD guys. Heck, you could even say it goes back to 1969 with Dennis Thompson and Lionel Ritchie. Even Windows is -- what? Twenty years old? Something like that. For that matter, look at Linux. Correct me if I'm wrong -- and I'm sure you fucking freetards will find something to correct -- but I think Linus Tordalv started working on Linux back in 1991 when he was a high school student in his native Denmark. That's nearly twenty years ago, and the shit still doesn't run right. Point is, whatever Google might release in the second half of next year, it will just be a starting point. It won't come close to what we've got.

The All Things Digital blog featured Chrome OS, Huh? Will It Be Based on a Google Analytics Kernel? an article which looks into the privacy related issues posed by the Google chrome OS.

“Competition in the OS market should always be welcome, but Google is the special case,” Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, told Digital Daily. “It has become dominant across many essential Internet services–search, mail, video, online apps, and advertising. Coupled with Google’s growing profiles of American consumers and reluctance to adopt meaningful privacy safeguards, we expect that antitrust authorities in the US and Europe will view Google’s entry into the OS market with enormous skepticism.”

TechCrunch had a post giving details on the device manufacturers that have partnered with Google to roll out the Chrome OS.

Yesterday Google said they were already working with device manufacturers to roll out Chrome OS devices late next year. Today they announced at least some of those partners: Acer, Adobe, ASUS, Freescale, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments.

Acer and ASUS are the no. 1 and no. 2 netbook manufacturers worldwide. HP and Lenovo are also large netbook manufacturers. Freescale, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments are chip companies that Google is likely working with to ensure a good user experience.

The Google's OS Security Claims Called 'idiotic' post published in Yahoo Tech news was a great read.

Bruce Schneier, the chief security technology officer at BT, scoffed at Google's promise. "It's an idiotic claim," Schneier wrote in an e-mail. "It was mathematically proved decades ago that it is impossible -- not an engineering impossibility, not technologically impossible, but the 2+2=3 kind of impossible -- to create an operating system that is immune to viruses."

Redesigning an operating system from scratch, "[taking] security into account all the way up and down," could make for a more secure OS than ones that have been developed so far, Schneier said. But that's different from Google's promise that users won't have to deal with viruses or malware, he added.

July 9th 2009

The most interesting post of the day was Register slapping TechCrunch hard with TechCrunch dubs Linux a 'big ol’ bag of drivers'

The pundits are losing their shit all over again, which is fairly impressive, because multiple Googasms from a single product are very rare. Last year, I highlighted the glorious incompetence of writers who fancy themselves tech journalists. Much in the way that everybody who saw Sideways is now an expert on wine, the tragedy of blogging is that anybody with a laptop and a Gmail account is an expert on technology. So now that Chrome will actually be a full-fledged operating system, let's see what the experts have to say.

The canonical example of failure in tech journalism is TechCrunch, a blog that once declared Google's MapReduce to be a system that "reduced the links found on the web into a map that search algorithms could run over." Yes, this will do nicely. TechCrunch embodies all that is wrong with blogging as journalism: shoddy fact checking, writing that would fail a high school English class, and a pre-adolescent in-the-brain-out-the-mouth reporting style

As Mike Arrington says: "The Internet Is Everything. All the OS has to do is boot the damn computer, get me to a browser as fast as possible and then stay the hell out of the way."

Indeed. That's probably why desktop Linux machines with Firefox have already taken such a foothold in the consumer market.

Oh, wait.

Another interesting thing was a couple of fake Chrome OS screenshots that were published: THE FIRST PICS OF THE CHROME OS BETA FOR DEVS!!!

July 10th 2009

 

John Gruber in his Daring Fireball blog raises a few interesting points. A few snippets from the post Putting What Little We Actually Know About Chrome OS Into Context:

it’s not weird that Chrome was announced. But what is weird is how it was announced. And, despite the title of the weblog post in which the announcement was made — “Introducing the Google Chrome OS” — nothing has actually been introduced. There aren’t even any screenshots, let alone a demo or any specific technical information. With an expected ship date of “the second half of 2010”, it’s a textbook example of vaporware.

I don’t get the timing. Why announce it now, when it clearly isn’t close to ready? Why not at I/O, Google’s developer conference six weeks ago? Or why not wait until it’s ready to release to developers? I like facts, demos, and best of all, shipping products. I don’t like vague promises.

Martin of gHacks.net posts about Why Google Chrome OS Will Have No Huge Impact

Some Microsoft Thoughts on Chrome OS published on Marketing Pilgrim blog gives details about interview with Abu-Hadba, Microsoft’s VP of Developer and Platform Evangelism.

Some of his remarks about Chrome consisted of entertaining bluster: “I love competition.” But he also had thoughts about why Google is trying to muscle into the operating system business. And no, he said, it’s not because Google wants to make computing simpler and faster (as Google executives claim), nor is it part of a grand plan to undo Microsoft’s dominance .

“Most of what Google does is defensive,” Abu-Hadba said.

Abu-Hadba said it’s not about operating systems at all; instead, Google is trying to distract competitors from attacking its cash cow, search. He argued that whenever Google enters a new market, like releasing mobile operating system Android, it’s trying to force competitors to focus on existing products, rather than challenging Google in search. And the company may actually feel threatened for the first time in years.

 

July 11th 2009

Mashable is back with another interesting post: The Google Revenue Equation, and Why Google’s Building Chrome OS.

Google generated about $21 billion in revenue last year. The vast majority of that revenue, well over 95%, comes from advertising via its search engine and its AdSense program, which places ads on millions of websites, including Mashable.

You probably already knew that, though. The key to understanding why Google is building an OS based off Chrome though isn’t about how it generates revenue, it’s about where. The answer’s simple: anywhere on the web.

As long as you’re on the web, Google wins. So we need to stop framing the Google-Microsoft battle in the context of “Chrome OS vs. Windows,” because Google will not win a straight up battle. And guess what? That’s not Google’s goal. We need to frame it in the larger context of the Google Revenue Equation and how much time we spend on the web.

Chrome OS is just another step in getting us online, both directly and indirectly. If you view the battle with this in mind, then you realize that Google will almost certainly succeed. Google will have won once again.

So that’s it guys. 5 days of Google Chrome OS juice combined in one post. What do you thing of this new OS? Tell us in the comments.

Comments 6 comments
Ujjwal Gupta said...

I love the way you have picked all the essentials from everywhere around the web and combined them together in a comprehensive format.

I do tend to agree that a web based OS is the way to go. Its not going to happen tomorrow, next year or 5 years down the line. But it will be the future. Every piece of software you use will be a web app with bunch load of analytics/monitored with a recommendation engine. I know it will go through a lot of skepticism for privacy reasons, but there will be laws amended to make sure that doesn't happen. The web apps will be such that they are centric to mobile based smart phones and adobe air like software at the start and slowly adapt. Its the future, and I for one is already working towards achieving it for our apps. :)

-Ujjwal
http://www.watermelonexpress.com

Anonymous said...

There was another pretty insightful blogpost about Google's strategy and why they're developing chrome here:

Anonymous said...

There was another pretty insightful blogpost about Google's strategy and why they're developing chrome here: http://www.maximise.dk/blog/2009/07/why-google-is-making-operating-system.html

Anonymous said...

This timeline is a little off. Ars Technica got a tip about Chrome OS earlier in the evening on July 7 and published to that effect at 10:20PM Central Time. Their source claimed Google was going to be announcing the news on the morning of July 8:

http://arstechnica.com/web/news/2009/07/google-chrome-os-lives-and-is-coming-to-a-netbook-near-you.ars

Gizmodo posted about their story not much later (12:45AM EST):

http://gizmodo.com/5309736/google-chrome-os-in-the-works-for-netbooks

The New York Times was also sitting on this rumor and posted about Chrome OS about 50 minutes after Ars. Email alerts for their article started appearing around 11:30PM CST. The NYTimes also acknowledges that Ars was first with the news:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/08/technology/companies/08operate.html

"""Ars Technica, a technology news site, also reported the outlines of Google’s plan late Tuesday."""

The AP also credited Ars (and the NY Times for some reason) with breaking the news:

http://www.ajc.com/business/content/business/stories/2009/07/08/google_microsoft_system.html

Then at 9:37PM *Pacific Time* (or almost 70 minutes after Ars broke the story) Google posted about Chrome OS, almost certainly prompted by all the news breaking early.

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