Opinion

Google Chrome OS: A threat to Windows 7?

Google OS has been warmly embraced by the anti-Microsoft crowd, but Davey Winder is less than blown over by the announcement.

"...it's all about the web. All apps are web apps"

Google exclaims, and everyone gasps and bows before the cloud embracing visionaries. But where's the step back, the deep breath, the wiping away of the 'oh gosh it's Google, it's the future' haze to reveal the problems that lurk beneath the surface? I'm far from being a luddite, I was an internet evangelist 20 years ago and an early adopter of everything from virtual worlds to social networks. I have long since replaced my Outlook client with the grab anywhere simplicity of Gmail and Google Calendar but I don't want to do everything in the cloud right now.

See also: Google Chrome OS review – Open source, apps and flash

"...there are significant benefits to security"

Google insists, and some aspects of the Chrome OS such as every app being contained in a sandbox are to be welcomed. However, while Google has been banging the security drum, I cannot help but notice how quiet it has been with regards to the privacy issue. Yep, the one word which will always be a thorn in the side of Google has to be uttered when we are talking about moving pretty much everything we do, if we do it with Google Chrome, onto Google servers. At least when my data is stored on my drives on my desktop, secured as best I can, I remain a small fish, and therefore a small target, in a very big pond. Google is the equivalent of not just a solitary whale, but a whole herd of whales.

"...all apps live within the browser"

Google beams, by which it means the Google Chrome browser because that's the only one supported. So where's the outcry over Google producing an OS which not only bundles its own web browser but actually requires it in order to run any applications?

"...we are obsessed with speed"

Google enthuses, but you know what not everyone else is. Sure, fast booting is cool, but I don't have time to make a cup of tea when my Windows 7 netbook fires up first thing in the morning. After that I just wake it from sleep mode, and that's as instant as typing my user login. Boot speed is hardly a deal breaker for the masses, if we are being honest, especially if it means buying a new machine that's tied into a new computing concept.

I remain to be convinced that Google Chrome will make any real dent in the OS market, or even in the niche OS market for that matter. I am convinced, however, that if it were not for the word 'Google' being included the tech world would hardly have batted an eyelid at the launch of this particular vision of the future.

It's interesting, for sure, but Google Chrome OS as a game changer? No way! Everything from assuming people will want another Apple-alike 'buy the hardware to get the OS' model to thinking the average user is ready to surrender a PC paradigm for a cloud-based existence is wide of the mark.

Google would appear to have got this one about as wrong as it got Google Answers or Google Lively. Remember them? No, thought not...

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This was first published in November 2009

 

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