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This Changes Everything

I'm sure I'm the last to comment on Google's Chrome OS. I'm getting my information from the usual suspects: Ars Technica, Wired (here and here), Yahoo, and CNN, to name but a few.

Here's my take on all this.
  1. All the Linux distributors are going to adapt or die, and frankly, I think many of them will die. They need to. Up to this point Linux has been dominated by the Big Three: Redhat, Novell (SuSE), and Ubuntu (Debian). Everybody else has been a pygmy to these three giants, and that includes Mandriva (the distributions formerly known as Mandrake and Conectiva). Regardless of the current incumbents size it will drive the concept of product quality down every one's throat, and frankly, it's about time.

    That drive towards quality should (I say should) also clean out the silly political posturing by some Linux notables about what they will or will not do based on their unique interpretation of the GPL. With Google officially in the ring, this has now become a Real Business. Google OS may be given away, but it won't be free to screw around with.

    The Google OS with the Chrome Browser is the entrée to all of Google and its online services. It has to run first time every time. It has to be rock solid and high quality to attract new users and keep them. It has to work seamlessly with every system it's loaded on. It won't be Linux as usual, and I can't wait.

  2. It will put a world of real hurt on Microsoft. A world of hurt Microsoft deserves. My only fear is that Microsoft will buy enough sympathy in Washington that the federal government will punish Google for 'abusing' its 'monopoly' position. After all, who else but Microsoft knows about abusing its monopoly position.

    Microsoft has already run crying to Washington over this, and with some limited effect. Certain quarters in Washington are already muttering darkly about Google's position and the need to 'do something'. But Google will survive, and there is nothing that Microsoft will be able to do except adapt or die.

    If anything, the ensuing competition will force Microsoft to slim down; after all, what normal company could have survived the PR disaster of the XBox 360's RROD and the subsequent billions it's had to charge off to clean up that mess? The only reason to keep the XBox is to turn it into the home entertainment hub, serving up diverse entertainment far beyond game playing. If anything, the XBox would be Microsoft's counter-weight to Google OS on netbooks. And that's what our Dear Leaders in Washington need to understand before they make Microsoft an even more entrenched monopoly than it currently is. Beware Unintended Consequences.

  3. Apple will be marginalized in yet another market. Apple is a monopoly in the on-line music space, but that is a very narrow vertical market compared to what Google could provide with the Google OS on a netbook. And with a Mac OS native version of Chrome, anyone with a Mac could ride the Google train.

    Google doesn't need Apple, Apple needs Google simply because Google has been working on the network infrastructure since its inception. Apple may attempt to compete with Google with its own offerings, and it may have limited success, but it won't stop the Google juggernaut.

    The biggest impact will be on Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch. If Apple is smart they'll find ways to integrate Google services with the iPhone and Touch. Even though there will be lots of Android smartphones, the Apple iPhone will continue to be the best that money can buy, and many people will want to continue to use it. Apple needs to market the iPhone as a premier mobile platform for premier services, of which Google will definitely belong. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

  4. I wasn't paying enough attention to the official Google announcement, but buried in there is this interesting statement: "Google Chrome OS will run on both x86 as well as ARM chips and we are working with multiple OEMs to bring a number of netbooks to market next year."

    Wow. I bet that will make Intel and AMD sit up and take notice, especially Intel with its Atom and other low-power processors. The Atom got into the netbook space because it was a compromise solution for running today's OS, and Windows (XP) got in there because the versions of Linux being offered were, in a word, awful. But with Google behind this unique version of Linux being targeted for ARM in the netbook space, anything is possible. Atom is still an energy hog compared to ARM.

    What can ARM do for netbooks? How about a netbook with 16 or more hours of useful life between charges? Or how about coating the top of a netbook with solar cells that could trickle charge the batteries?

    Or how about this idea. Close the netbook, turning off the screen and other heavy energy sinks (like the disk drive) but leave the processor running in a reduced frequency mode. The top solar cells could provide just enough juice to allow the processor to remain connected to the network without slowly draining the primary batteries. Real, constant connectivity supplemented by any light source, natural or artificial.
So, in a nutshell, I see Linux finally growing up (a Good Thing), Microsoft finally getting its comeuppance (again, a Good Thing), Apple, as usual, being the enigma, and the x86 boys getting the bejeebers scared out of them. Whatever happens, it's going to be a very interesting ride.


The Official Google Announcement. How could I have missed that???
Yet Another Analysis (YAA) from Ars Technica.

Update 2

Sour grapes from the Open Source mouthpiece? Perhaps, or perhaps a solid dose of reality. For Google and Google supporters such as me.
And of course, Fake Steve wades in with his opinion.


  1. Great post Bill, I agree on ALL points. It will soon be time for all major Linux distributions to either put up or shut up, so to say.

    It will be very interesting to see what Google comes out with. I think if they really went for it (and not choose to be a niche player) they could be very disruptive.

    Also, a quick correction on my comment to your last Chrome post. Flash is working on the Linux Chrome development builds. I have only tested it out on a few YouTube videos at this point, but it worked just fine.


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