About that Google Chrome OS…

So Google is developing yet another operating system. The news is just out and there’s already a shitload of more or less inaccurate posts about it (even on wired. The article is not particularly bad, but strikes me as weird with a number of little glitches) Personally, I’m always excited about trying out some new OS. If I had a Netbook I’d probably install Ubuntu and Windows 7 right from the start – and one more couldn’t hurt. Anyway, here’s my take on the matter (official press release as main source):

What GCOS is:

  • A lightweight OS designed for Netbooks and Internet usage
  • Essentially a Linux distribution like Ubuntu, Fedora and whatnot. Uses its own windowing system instead of X apparently.
  • Open Source (at least it will be) and free (at least as in beer)
  • Treating Netbooks as thin clients

What it’s not:

  • A direct rival to Windows, Mac OS and Ubuntu (or other Linux distros). I’m sure people will find ways to make it run all kinds of applications, but that’s not the intention. If you want to do more than use web apps and surf the Internet, GCOS is probably not for you (though Netbooks aren’t either in that case).
  • Magically compatible with everything, even with the stuff incompatible (or “hardly usable”) with Linux.

There has always been a lot of back-and-forth when thin clients were involved. You could fill books about the pros and cons. What Google is trying to do is to make Netbooks a very direct portal to their services. They want you to be able to access their web apps from anywhere, for long periods of time, as often as possible and as cheaply as possible. The OS is just one of many things Google is doing to achieve that.

I guess this is going to be a minor setback for few people (Microsoft), a good thing for some more people (most of all those who use Netbooks) and completely irrelevant for most.

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