A dissection of the Google Chrome OS press release

Google Chrome OS has created a lot of hype since yesterday, even though it doesn’t seem to do anything new that current netbook operating systems can’t. If the leaked screenshots are real, and that’s an indication of what it’s going to be like, I see no differences in it than Moblin, Julicloud or any other netbook operating system available. In fact, Moblin and Julicloud offer a better experience to the Joe user who just wants a user friendly operating system that looks good, is feature packed and just works.

Is Google Chrome OS going to be feature packed?

Lets define feature packed.

Lets take the iPhone OS as an example, since some people are ridiculously comparing Google Chrome OS with it. The iPhone OS is feature packed. You can play music, watch movies, browse the net, play games, use GPS, edit video and even extend the functionality through 56,000+ applications available at the App Store. These applications stay on your iPhone, run from your iPhone natively and can access the web.

What is Google Chrome OS going to do?

We hear a lot from our users and their message is clear — computers need to get better. People want to get to their email instantly, without wasting time waiting for their computers to boot and browsers to start up. 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.

Current operating systems are getting faster and faster at booting and shutting down as well. Google should try using the new netbook operating systems. Why do people still use Windows XP on their netbooks then? Windows gained 96% netbook market even though it were free Linux distros who were getting a lot of attention to being with. I can check my email instantly as well on any operating system thanks to desktop applications, mobile applications and web applications. I can back up their data to the cloud using any operating system too thanks to Live Mesh, Mobile Me, Sky Drive, Drop Box and the likes. Although Windows doesn’t have these features bundled with the operating system due to legal issues, but it’s still possible in current operating systems.

Will it be user friendly?

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.

It’s based on Linux. Even Ubuntu fails to match or beat Windows or OS X at user friendliness, but Google has the resources to change that trend.

The operating systems that browsers run on were designed in an era where there was no web.

It’s our attempt to re-think what operating systems should be.

Wait. The Linux kernel was made in 1991 which is based on Unix made in the 1960s. And Google OS will be made on a Linux kernel. Is Google really sane enough to think that Microsoft or Apple didn’t design the latest releases of their operating systems keeping the Internet in mind? That is ridiculous. Even Windows XP and OS X’s first releases were developed to make the web easy to use. That’s way back in 2001.

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.

Speed, simplicity and security already exist in current operating systems. That is the key aspect and selling point of every operating system! We can get onto the web in a few seconds now as well using Windows, OS X or a Linux distro, specially the ones optimized for net books. If the user prefers the whole experience to take place in the web browser, why do we have Twitter clients? Instant messaging clients? Even though all this can be done inside the browser too. And since it’s based on Linux, I’m not sure if Google has to do much work to secure the architecture from viruses and malware. Although every OS gets security updates to fix any vulnerabilities found, unless Google thinks they’ll make their OS 100% secure.

How will it work?

The software architecture is simple — Google Chrome running within a new windowing system on top of a Linux kernel. For application developers, the web is the platform. All web-based applications will automatically work and new applications can be written using your favorite web technologies. And of course, these apps will run not only on Google Chrome OS, but on any standards-based browser on Windows, Mac and Linux thereby giving developers the largest user base of any platform.

Web developers already have the ‘largest user base’ of any platform. Putting IE aside for lack of support for web standards, every operating system has Firefox which supports HTML 5 and offline apps too. Safari supports this for Windows. Chrome has support for web standards on Windows too. How is this even a feature of an operating system?

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.

Sorry, this fails logic. Which operating system hasn’t been created for people who spend most of their time on the web?

And any time our users have a better computing experience, Google benefits as well by having happier users who are more likely to spend time on the Internet.

Well, I’m not sure how Google ‘benefits’ from giving away a free operating system. There’s nothing in Google Chrome OS as evident from the press release that would make users more happier. Putting everything on the cloud will give users less choice since they wont be able to use their favorite desktop applications. Instead, I see them sadder when they realize the operating system might not have a music player, video player, image viewer, bundled applications for everyday use like a calculator, screenshot tool, ftp software, PDF viewer, games, no desktop office suite ( Google Docs and Zoho suck, ask any novice user ) and many many more.

And if it has support for all these features, then it’s just another operating system like the Cloud OS, Jolicloud, Moblin and so on. The hype is really unjustified, since I believe Ubuntu is a better deserving OS. Either way you see it, it’s not a Windows killer but good competition for Microsoft and Apple.

About the Author

Technology enthusiast, Internet addict, photography fan, movie buff, music aficionado.


  1. Great post Imran. I definitely agree with many of your points. This definitely isn’t an OS X or Windows killer as much of the tech media makes it out to be, but rather something that’s useful for a mere minority of people who buy netbooks *only* to get online. Maybe they don’t have that much space on their netbook so they want a slim operating system that allows them to browse the web.

    Although, it probably does have support for many of those features, but perhaps through an online service such as Google Docs for example. Whatever the case though, like you said I’m sure many would be happier with Ubuntu, for example.

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  4. i think you are all missing the mark a bit. No, i don’t think MS will be shaking in its boots for the general desktop market..
    You make in your article/post a lot of affirmations like “Speed, simplicity and security already exist”. Er, we could easily have more of each.
    -It could boot up in < 10 seconds from off..
    -everything preconfigured, no need to install codecs, browsers, etc etc. you could even have virtual logon (er, gmail account anyone?) where you could log on at any PC, and then you would have all your apps, settings, shortcuts, background, etc, right there.
    -no viruses. no malware. no need for these programs. And er, its based on linux. which most people don't use yet. (do i even need to say its more secure?)
    And if you are saying 'you can get all this with existing linux distros'..
    ubuntu could be argued to hit 2/3 but its a hog, like most distros. Faster ones tend to lose simplicity.
    The only one i'd say was close to hitting 3/3 is Puppy linux, but.. even then a simple driver not found and your in a world of hurt.
    The simple addition of the massive Google brand is enough to give it a competitive advantage alone. and more users leads to better software.

    I agree the statement that current OS-s were designed when there was no web is ridiculous; it was windows 95 when Bill Gates had his 'epifany' re: the internet; going as far as making the browser so intertwined with the OS that it was unremovable (starting with v2 of w95, only just ending with 7!). So that was windows '4'. I think google may have put it better by saying the assumption (requirement?) of the web was not there.

    "..sadder when they realize the operating system might not have a music player, video player, image viewer, bundled applications for everyday use like a calculator, screenshot tool, ftp software, PDF viewer, games, no desktop office suite ( Google Docs and Zoho suck [..]) and many many more."
    Well, Chrome can already do all of what you talk of with a few plugins. Hell, even the search engine has a calculator. Sounds like they need to work on google docs.. any basic online app missing will be quickly created by the community online or google themselves when there is a userbase. A web app calculator is a bit of a gimmick right now… every OS has one.

    For a good idea of what i think Chrome OS will be like– http://www.embeddingwindows.com/intro.html
    ^w98 stripped bare with ie5 as a shell. ~20MB. FF could be used instead with minimized windows' (winimize.com, or Xp micro @ torrents). All google is doing is an updated, linux/Chrome version of this, that will support web apps. They are making the browser the OS, as far as the user is concerned.

    What they SHOULD do however, or deveop it in to, is..
    to have an online App database (open or chosen by google), which is searchable, and you can link to the apps from your desktop, menu, etc. Then you just click them, and they run, as if locally, with the bulk of processing done off in the google cloud. This would be 'proper' apps– Firefox, Gimp, VLC, etc. No installs, minimum requirements could be made obselete, saved config, accessible on any PC..
    But perhaps we don't have the bandwidth right now for that online.. it could work great on a large wired network. Maybe a hybrid is required– but these kind of apps should definately be run-able on chrome, [today's] web apps only will force it into a niche (maybe that is what they are aiming at) of netbook-esq 'PC-lite', rather than 'works exactly how i want it', general purpose, machine.. — if they do not, it won't be hard to do, i imagine, once it is open-sourced.. if not before

    "Well, I’m not sure how Google ‘benefits’ from giving away a free operating system."
    Wah?!?! this ties potentially pretty much everything google has ever worked on together. When the user turns on their computer; Chrome will be there. I bet the google homepage will be there too, and not too many people will change it. Chrome OS users will undoubtedly be google users. The more the internet is used the more money google makes from ads. Secondly, it breaks (or starts to) the reliance on microsoft; whilst Google (may or) may not be interested in the OS market in itself.. MS is interested in Google's Pie also (bing?) and if MS is less dominant on the desktop, the less leverage it has on that. If windows was superceded, do you really think MS would survive providing online search?
    Besides which, getting a foot in the OS market is never a bad plan. The control/power of that is worth a lot. The expertise, market share and experience worth a lot too– could all be taken advantage of in the future. They could charge OEMs a small fee to have it preinstalled perhaps, if it caught on.
    Google has a pretty good track record of making lots of money by offering services free to the consumer..

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