Why Google should (maybe) develop an OS!
Rumors keep surfacing, since the introduction of Chrome, that Google is developing an operating system to compete with Windows, Linux, and the Mac’s OSX.
Good idea? Or bad idea? Opinion seems mixed.
My recent experience in setting up a netbook (Asus EEE PC 701 with Linux) for my wife taught me something unexpected.
Asus certainly tried to strike a balance between simplicity and usability in their simple Linux based tabbed desktop, but, to be honest, it is still a lot more than many users need. It is certainly more than Carol needs…and one of my first tasks was to put the few icons she really does need (Mail, iGoogle to open her browser, print, and shutdown) on the favorites page.
Then, when I was watching her work yesterday, she clicked on a word document someone had sent her in an email, and it opened in Open Office for her to view it. She does not even know Open Office is on the machine, and will, very likely, never have to open it from its icon, but it does need to be there for her when she needs it.
Recent articles about the upcoming gOs Cloud (pictured above, at the top of the post), the browser based, instant on, operating system, have also caught my eye. gOs makes the assumption that many connected computers (people) will generally not need anything more than a browser, with a few application icons inside. Most tasks will be done using web apps, as opposed to applications that reside on the hard drive and depend on a conventional OS (Linux, Windows, OSX, etc.) to control all the peripheral and IO functions of the machine (Monitor, USB, Keyborad, wifi, etc., etc.). The browser itself will have full control of the machine interfaces, with no need for a supervising OS.
So, I assume, when you double click a word attachment in your email (collected in some internet email client, like GMail), it will open in Google Docs, or ThinkFree Office, or some other web based word-processing application…and not in Word or OpenOffice, or some other hard drive based application. When you double click an image file it will open your browser for viewing (and presumably the browser will have basic editing features included (zoom, crop, resize, sharpen), and a link to Adobe Express, or Googles Picassa (in a web based form), or Picnic for more serious editing. You will, of course, have the option to work off line, using local lightweight browser based apps and accessing your otherwise online documents via a local cache on your hard drive…kind of like Google Gears.
And that is when it hit me: Chrome. Google Gears. Google Docs. GMail. Google Calendar. Picassa. YouTube. Google Sites. Google Desktop.
Maybe Google really is building an OS???
They certainly have many of the necessary pieces for the connected OS, the cloud OS, of the future already in place. Even gOs Cloud relies heavily on Google web apps. All Google needs to do is to teach Chrome to wrest control of the machine’s IO functions from the resident OS, and they are good to go. The job is done. Chrome becomes your operating system.
And for many of us that would be just fine. It would satisfy most of our day to day work and play computing needs, especially on our mobile machines…our netbooks.
As they say, though, just because something can be done, it does not follow that it is a good idea to do it.
Personally, I would like to see Google try. I will even be an early adopter, on my netbook, as long as Google allows for running some of my Windows staples…Lightroom and iTunes in particular…or provides adequate web based substitutes.
What is certain is that someone will invent/develop such a cloud based operating system. I am sure the visionaries at Microsoft (oops. Oxymoron alert!), at Google, at Mozilla, and at a host of little start-ups (not to say up-starts) like gOs, are hard at work on it even while you read this…at this very moment.
I say: go to it Google!
Note: some 6 hours later: Interestingly enough, after this went to press, this article popped up on my Google Reader: NetVibes Founder Working on Netbook OS
Smallish world. Netbook sized. Covered in cloud.
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