Alex Hudson

Thoughts on Technology, Product, & Strategy

Google Chrome OS

As I drove to a business planning session (a.k.a. entrepreneur funday) this morning, I heard on the radio that Google had announced their intention to release a consumer operating system. This was interesting news, albeit too brief, and being at this event I wasn’t able to check the news until I got back this evening.

Pretty much the first thing I read was Andrew Savory‘s take on this. Wow, how disappointing.

Not technologically, though. A browser on top of a Linux core – ok, that makes sense. It will obviously need a few other bits and pieces too, but intrinsically we’re not a million miles away from where Pyro was going (as Alex Graveley noted). However, the community side of it is deeply, deeply disappointing. But, considering Android, not entirely surprising.

Although the announcement ends “we’re definitely going to need a lot of help from the open source community to accomplish this vision” I somehow doubt that: this is another example of FLYOSS – Fly-tipped Open Source Software. All the vision I’m seeing here is the old joke about Messers. Bodjit & Scarper dancing in my head.

There is a lot of talk about the security architecture about this, but I’m pretty sure that’s not the hardest problem to solve when you’ve junked virtually every app bar the browser, and there is a lot of talk about how great this will be for developers. But will the apps be as compelling as those created using Mozilla Prism or Adobe Air? Or will Google re-invent that wheel too, with their own desktop toolkit? Will Chrome OS need a Google account to work?

I think Google are about three years late with this already, anyway – the Netbook revolution has pretty much come and gone, and people are just installing Windows on them. It’s ridiculous, but people don’t much care about the size/speed of them, and they’re getting them basically for free with broadband contracts. By Q3 2010 that boat will have not only sailed but be half-way around the globe on its world cruise.

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2 Comments

  1. Gtk

    I don’t think we’re going to see a different toolkit… google chrome for linux, which google is very actively porting right now, uses GTK, and it even supports theming, a feature not supported on other operating systems. A lot of the core gnome infrastructure, however, will be replaced, like metacity, panel, etc.

  2. Alex

    I sort-of agree; I’m pretty sure it will use Gtk+. However, I’m also pretty sure that people writing apps won’t be using anything beneath HTML. It may render using Gtk+, but programmers won’t be coding to it.

    Interestingly, the announcement was updated to list Adobe as one of those involved. It wouldn’t surprise me much if Adobe Air was built into this thing, which could mean people writing apps using Dojo/Dijit.

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