With many of us spending an increasing amount of our work lives “in the cloud” using web sites that actually do stuff – or “web applications” as they have become known (think Hotmail, Gmail, Facebook, LinkedIn, Salesforce.com etc) it was inevitable that the operating systems we know and love/hate (Mac OS, Windows) would become less and less important. I’ve said it before, that once software developers can really control their software, reduced costs come through having total control over updates and distribution, and, more importantly software piracy: software becomes a utility, just like water, gas and electricity: centrally controlled with metered usage or subscription payments.
Well, as has been expected for a while, Google have made their move: squaring up to the dominant Microsoft and Apple, and typical of Google “re-thinking the OS”. However, as with most Google stuff it’s free and funding will be coming to them via web advertising: the web is the platform; the OS is just the “chrome” around the edges (hence the name) and will be minimal.
Based on their recently launched browser, Chrome, and leveraging the ever-developing Linux system, coupled with their ever-growing list of web applications (Google Mail, Google Docs, Google Calendar) they are pitching this first at the cheap and cheerful Netbook market.
Knowing Google, they won’t get it right first time, maybe not even second, third or fourth. But perhaps they will nibble away and erode the markets dominated by a few key players, just like they have with Google Mail (against Hosted MS Exchange) and are attempting to also do with Android (against Windows Mobile and iPhone)