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More Information about Google's Chrome OS

Posted Dec 02 2010 12:00am

In a previous note, I began to address the Chrome browser/operating system (see: The Decline of Microsoft: The Clues Seem to Be Obvious ). A recent NYT article begins to fill in some of the white space concerning this product (see: For Google, the Browser Does It All ). Below is an excerpt from it:

....Chrome stores everything that people have on their computers — like documents, photos and e-mail — online, or in tech parlance, in the cloud. In Google’s vision of a world where all computers run on its Chrome OS, anyone can walk up to any computer with an Internet connection and gain access to all their information....It is all the more confusing because Google already has a Web browser named Chrome. And Google already has an operating system, called Android. Google says it will become clearer by the end of the year, when the company will introduce to the public a lightweight netbook computer that runs Chrome....With Chrome OS, Google is stepping once again into the territory of its archrivals, Microsoft and Apple, both of which make operating systems as well as widely used desktop software like Microsoft Office and Apple iPhoto and iTunes. That software would not work on Chrome computers. Instead, Chrome users would use Google’s Web-based products, like Docs, Gmail and Picasa for word processing, e-mail and photos, or software from other companies, like Microsoft’s cloud-based Office 365....The Chrome browser, which is installed on 8 percent of all PCs, shares a name because the operating system is, essentially, the same thing as the browser....Computers running Chrome OS will start in seconds, not minutes, and then users will see a browser through which applications and data can be used....Yet while Google imagines a Web-based future, analysts wonder whether Chrome’s time has passed — before Google netbooks even hit the market. When Google first talked about Chrome last year, netbooks — small, low-cost laptops with keyboards — were all the rage. But since then, smartphones and tablets — slate PCs with touch screens, like the iPad — have crushed that market.

I firmly believe that most of us will soon be operating in the cloud rather than on our local desktop for personal computing. I look forward to the day when the "operating system" will be largely invisible to computer users. A key step in this process will be the blending of the browser and the operating system, which is exactly the development trajectory of the Chrome product. Now comes the interesting part. Will the new Chrome be first deployed on a netbook or a tablet? In recent months, all of the media attention has been focused on the iPad and therefore on tablet computers. Is there room in the market for both or will the product array be primarily smart phones, tablets, laptops, and desktops? I don't know the answer to this question but I am sure that it is an important topic of conversation at Google.

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