It was widely announced that Google will be releasing a new operating system called the Chrome OS that will be initially deployed to NetBooks but will hopefully compete with Windows on the desktop.
Yawn…shades of 1995 when Java OS, Oracle OS, Network Computer etc. tried to do the same thing.
If you want a OS replacement for Windows on your NetBook, you can get it today – its called LINUX! Acer, Dell, etc. all have Net Books that will come with LINUX today. And if you want to run Google’s browser, you can download it for free.
"The operating systems that browsers run on were designed in an era where there was no Web," the blog post said. "So today, we're announcing a new project that's a natural extension of Google Chrome--the Google Chrome Operating System. It's our attempt to rethink what operating systems should be."
Huh? Windows Vista, Windows XP, Mac OS, and LINUX were all designed with the web in mind.
COREL had the same vision in mind when they created COREL LINUX. They had WordPerfect, CorelDraw, etc. (even at the time much more sophisticated applications than Google Spreadsheet is today) and they couldn’t sell any more office licenses because Microsoft had a lock on the desktop and was killing them in the office market. So they made a big splash (and almost killed the company) investing heavily in desktop LINUX, the supposedly Windows killer.
BE Operating System was an entirely new OS developed in 1991. Unlike the Chrome OS or Corel, it wasn’t a rehash of LINUX with a new set of apps thrown on top of it. It was an entirely brand new operating system from the kernel upwards. It had the same ambitious target – replace Windows with a better operating system. It had a niche following originally as a replacement to the Apple Operating System (since the BE OS initially only ran on Power PC Chips and not Intel) and then as a Windows replacement. The company could not gain enough market share and eventually was bought out by Palm.
The same reasons why these operating systems didn’t survive will cause major challenges for Google. I found this table from Microsoft to challenge the proposition of the Network Computer:
|Operating System||Windows||Proprietary / Incompatible|
|Applications||> 100,000||Limited / Incompatible|
|Development Tools||Choice||Limited to Java|
|Device Support||Thousands||Proprietary / Incompatible|
|Device Model||Windows||None / Incompatible|
|Networking||Choice||Requires high speed net|
With using LINUX, Google can solve some of these issues (scalability for example). But even OS X for example has less third party support than Windows and far less partners and applications and it is fairly mature. Google will have none of these advantages.