Saturday, November 21, 2009

Chrome OS – the future of computing or just a niche?

image Google announced their Chrome OS on Thursday – which is basically an Operating System that relies on cloud services like Google Apps, Google Mail, YouTube, etc.

The news for me was that the OS will require a modified BIOS and thus support form the device manufactures (probably mainly netbooks). The time to the login screen was demoed with 7 seconds (3 more to get to the apps / browser). That is lightning fast compared to a Windows or Linux boot sequence, but since I never shutdown my laptops or desktops I have similar wakeup times from the Windows 7 sleep mode…

The idea of getting rid of all the unnecessary overhead of a full blown operating system and solely focus on the browser is a brilliant one, though. Google is the only one at the moment that actually has the power to build, spread and maintain both sides – the client side and the necessary cloud services.

With the ever increasing bandwidth available and ubiquitous internet access, more and more data will move into the cloud. Chrome OS is the consequent advancement of this movement and with the reservations regarding security and hosting private data somewhere in the cloud going away, I see this model becoming really popular in the mid-term.

Chrome OS actually might become the standard interface for many cloud services that require more functionality provided by HTML, Ajax or even Flash / Silverlight. With the capability of discovering and adding apps through the built in Apps-Menu, it will become fairly easy for users to add new functionality and applications with a few clicks. The Apple App-Store has shown how powerful this can become…

Good thing is that Google has announced the release of Chrome OS only for the end of 2010, so they will have some time to make sure all the standard use cases for notebook users and at least the basic hardware support (printers, scanners, cameras, webcams, etc.) is covered. Because the acceptance of a pure cloud based OS will stay and fall with the ability to do the stuff that you do on a notebook currently. Very few would accept major cuts there…

My feeling is that we will see many netbooks and small tablet pc before Christmas next year that offer a dual installation of Windows (maybe even Linux?) and Chrome OS. For a quick checking of emails, chatting with friends or updating Facebook with some photos, Chrome OS will be the faster option. Windows will step in for everything that requires a regular operating system. Maybe it will even be possible to launch Chrome OS virtualized inside Windows or Linux. That would safe us some reboots (which we know can take long if its not Chrome OS :).

Very excited to get my hands on this next year!