TechSutra

Google Chrome OS : A Speculative Analysis

Google Chrome OS has been the talk of the town lately. Some have even predicted the end of Microsoft Windows. That certainly is not going to happen anytime soon. Here is a collection of my thoughts after reading through a ton of Google Chrome OS articles.

What? What is Google Chrome OS? According to Google, it is Google Chrome running within a new windowing system on top of a Linux kernel. What this means is that, there won't be any other applications on the computer except Google Chrome. So bye-bye Excel, Windows Media Player. Google Chrome will possibly make use of HTML5 features or Google Gears to make your web applications feel like native applications. Why? Why would Google want to build an OS? Does it want to topple Microsoft Windows? Though Chrome OS will never replace Windows/OS X/Linux it can replace Microsoft Office/Outlook etc. Office is one of the biggest cash cows of Microsoft, so if Chrome OS gains momentum expect casual office users to migrate to Google Docs/Zoho. A Chrome OS success will also make people more conducive to  accept web applications like GMail as alternatives to native apps. Google wants users to slowly migrate away from native apps to web apps in email, document creation/editing, IM, video chat etc. Web is the platform Google is strong at, so it is no surprise that they want to steer users that way.

Also more users, using web applications means that more ads can be served. Search is still the  main revenue earner for Google and diversification of revenue streams is always a good strategy.

When?

Netbooks with Chrome OS pre-installed should be available in second half of 2010. Google is currently working with  Acer, Adobe, ASUS, Freescale, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, and Toshiba.

How Can You Get Google Chrome OS

It is expected that Chrome OS will come pre-installed on netbooks produced by partners like Acer. Since Google has said it will open-source the OS, it can be freely downloaded and installed on pretty much any machine that can run Linux. But Chrome OS may not contain hardware drivers for everything, so I fully expect distributions springing up which offer souped up Chrome OS downloads which can run on many devices.

Will You Need an Internet Connection to Use Chrome OS

Most Likely No. Google has been leveraging Google Gears and native browser features to make its web applications work offline. GMail, Google Reader , Google Calendar and Google Docs work offline either partially or fully. If Google can make Google Docs work offline completely and make it behave like  a native office suite, then most of the users will be satisfied.

Will it Succeed?

Most likely Yes. Netbooks are under powered devices. Even when you run a full OS on a netbook, it is not a pleasant experience to run resource heavy applications like Photoshop. No one buys a netbook to run those kind of apps anyway. People look at netbook as a device  on which they can read stuff, do some emailing or some light editing of documents. These are functions which Chrome OS can fulfill pretty easily. So I do expect Chrome OS to be a success in the netbook market. Outside of netbooks, maybe on tablets. Unlike Techcrunch, I don't subscribe to the idea that Chrome OS is a credible competitor to Windows. So Chrome might succeed in the netbook market but that won't put much of a dent in Windows dominance.

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