Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Finally a Google OS - THE REAL THING!

For those of you who need to catch up: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/07/introducing-google-chrome-os.html

What an interesting news
Google has taken one of the biggest challenges in the software industry:
- Make a mainstream OS that compete with windows
- Build this OS on Linux (Linux kernel actually)

Now everyone knows Linux is a very solid system, that runs many (most?) servers in the world, but surely not many PCs. Why? Not only because Microsoft pushed windows as a pre-installed system to nearly every laptop! don't buy that!

I love Linux, but I admit it's not for everyone - it has a learning curve that doesn't fit average users. I don't see how my mom, for instance could ever configure a webcam, or the proprietary NVIDIA/ATI device driver. All of these normally require command line magic. Also, try to explain why this damned word document won't display properly in Open Office. Oh, and forget about these shiny 3D games you were playing - they won't work here.

Don't get me wrong - I don't blame the Linux community for these problems. If you insist on blaming somebody, I would blame the hardware vendors (for giving windows such a priority), software vendors (for developing software to windows only) Microsoft (for their Microsoftness), and just then the Linux guys, for not paying enough attention for usability.

Ubuntu and others are trying to improve the Desktop experience, but I've never seen any distro that really solve all of the problems yet.

Well, I don't see how things can be solved that quickly, but Google are indeed a huge force coming in to help. They want to build a zero maintenance system - "It should just work". And to do that, they will first need to convince hardware manufactured to fully support Linux (Software is less important because they target browser-only system). But actually, it might be easier than that, because the vendors will see the hype around Chrome OS and wouldn't want to stay out!

Lets sum up the challenges, and predict how google will face em':
#1 supporting all kinds of hardware - solved without (suprisingly) doing nothing
#2 supporting all kind of software - ignored, just forget about your win apps and run the corresponding app on the web. Problematic, but works for more and more users.
#3 building a "it should just work system" - They will probably do what they did with Chrome - silently update periodically. Stinky if you'll ask a geek, but works.

So Google has undertaken a 500-pound-gorilla-challenge once again, but the odds they will succeed are not bad. For us, the users, it will mean more competition, and better experience. For us, the Linux geeks, it means that Linux is becoming mainstream - this time for real.