Google to Launch PC Operating System

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Wow, I never thought I’d see the day when a company made a frontal assault on Microsoft’s core business. Google goes where the DOJ failed to penetrate (more accurately, Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson managed to steal defeat from the jaws of victory by making some remarks between the decision and the sentencing phase of the Microsoft antitrust case that got him removed from the case, and installed a particularly clueless judge, Colleen Kollar-Kotelly. as a replacement, who meted out vastly weaker sanctions that Jackson would have administered).

While competition is presumably a good thing, I’m not sure having one monopolist replace another is a great improvement. Google is already playing the FUD card (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) by putting this info out well in advance of launch (a product for low-end portable PCs, due out second half 2010. I wonder if this is part of a strategy to bridge computers and communications devices. Apple has a full OS of sorts in its iPhone, but this announcement says the ultimate aim is the PC market). Admittedly, part of FD was also announcing vaporware, while Google has much higher odds of delivering a real product on its timetable.

Having been a Google customer via Blogger, their customer service is non-existent. As a matter of policy, you cannot get a live person, hence you cannot get a problem resolved. When this blog was shut down (it was incorrectly tagged as a spam blog) I was lucky enough to know the brother of a C-level executive. Any other level of contact, and I would not have gotten any resolution. Trust me, I am better at getting past gatekeepers than most people, and the Google switchboard might as well be Fort Knox.

Google simply does not get the first rule of customer service: the perception of customer service is based not on the error rate, but the quality of problem resolution. People want a company that will admit to its errors, fix them quickly, and be pleasant about it. That does not seem to be how Google defines its product (not that Microsoft understand that either, mind you).

I’d be curious as to what the tech experts think (as a Mac person I can watch the blood sport with indifference), but Google presumably recognizes that Microsoft has a hugely bloated OS that it no longer even fully comprehends. That means the OS is inherently insecure. Linux has made inroads, but more in the corporate/institutional market, where it is easier to organize user support (although the irony is that one of the things that helps keep Microsoft going is that it is a tech support full employment act. Linux and Macs require vastly less support than Windows).

From the Wall Street Journal:

Google Inc. is preparing to launch an operating system for personal computers, a direct assault on the turf of software giant Microsoft Corp….. It said the software, which will initially target low-end portable PCs called netbooks, would be based on its Chrome Web browser and available to consumers in the second-half of 2010.

The post–by Google’s Sundar Pichai, vice president of product management, and Linus Upson, its engineering director — said the operating system would be “lightweight” and optimized for running Web-based applications. Google’s goal, they said, is to address shortcomings of PCs — including security problems and lengthy delays while computers boot up, the Google executives wrote.

“We hear a lot from our users and their message is clear — computers need to get better,” they wrote.

Eventually, Google hopes to scale the software to full-scale PC’s as well, they wrote.

The effort marks the latest attack by Google on Microsoft, which dominates the market for operating system software that powers computer applications. The Mountain View, Calif., company, which makes 97% of its revenue from online advertising, has been trying to compete with Microsoft and other software makers by offering more software that runs in a Web browser and isn’t downloaded directly to computers. Now it appears to be broadening its approach, in a move that could give it greater distribution of its own online software services, including word-processing and email software.

But whether it can chip away at Microsoft’s dominance in the market remains unclear. In the months since its launch, Chrome has done little to challenge Microsoft’s lead in the browser software. And some hardware companies have been slow to adopt Google software — like its Android operating system, which is targeted at running applications on mobile phones — arguing it isn’t robust enough to handle many tasks.

The Google blog post stresses that the Chrome operating system is a separate effort from Android — though, like Android, it will be “open source,” meaning other developers can have access to and modify the code.

The software is designed to work on PCs running x86 chips — the design used by Intel Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. used in most conventional PCs — as well as chips based on designs from ARM Holdings PLC that are the standard in cellphones and are expected to be used in netbooks later this year, the executives said.

Though the software will be based on the core of Linux, its “kernel” in programming parlance, the Chrome OS, as it is called, will add a new layer of windowing software to manage what a user sees on a display screen. Instead of requiring programmers to write programs specifically for the operating system — an uphill battle, at a time developers have many choices about where to focus their efforts — the Google engineers said that the Chrome operating system will simply run programs written for the Web.

“And of course, these apps will run not only on Google Chrome OS, but on any standards-based browser on Windows, Mac and Linux thereby giving developers the largest user base of any platform,” the Google executives wrote.

Google’s incursion into operating systems could galvanize its critics, including privacy groups and competitors, who argued that the online search company already collects vast amounts of information about consumers’ Internet use.

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  1. jbmoore

    It's Linux under the hood with a web browser in user space. Shades of Netscape's Marc Andressen stating that the browser would be the next OS circa 1994. It's just a way for Google to leverage what they do best – make money off of their cloud based computing and turning a computer or phone into just another browser based application tied to their web apps. A computer, even a netbook, is so much more useful when you give users the freedom to use it as they please. This is like turning your Macbook into a web kiosk.

  2. attempter

    Google simply does not get the first rule of customer service: the perception of customer service is based not on the error rate, but the quality of problem resolution. People want a company that will admit to its errors, fix them quickly, and be pleasant about it. That does not seem to be how Google defines its product (not that Microsoft understand that either, mind you).

    I imagine with engineers the focus is on getting things "right" to your own satisfaction, and then anything that goes wrong has to be the stupid customer's fault.

    That would explain the focus on error rate and the neglect of customer service.

    Nor is this some trivial point. On the contrary the technologization of the economy and society in general will simply make the problem worse and worse. Yet another way in which the people are being reduced to helpless serfs, at the mercy of unfathomable structures.

  3. Steve

    I think Google is looking primarily for a branding opportunity. There's less here than meets the eye. It's a subset Linux distribution with Google's Chrome browser. They may have a deal with a hardware mfg; they may not (if the history of Android is any indiction, they don't). Google will have plenty of competition among existing Linux distros.

    As for the browser-centric OS, it's like the 1980s joke about booting directly to emacs. For a minimal functionality PC, great; but no commercial games, no TurboTax, no easily useable media apps. Walmart has been selling minimal Linux PCs for a while — no indication that's been a great success.

  4. NotZed

    Yeah big whoop. So it's another linux distro. If it wasn't Google doing it nobody would give it a second glance, and rightly so too.

    Your comments on the user support angle thing are right on – although I imagine they plan to leverage others to do this for the base system. e.g. oem's or third parties.

    Which probably isn't such a bad thing … someone has to make the code, and you're hardly likely to talk to anyone useful if you ring MS (or Apple) are you? It's all through 3rd parties. Who then become financially-interested zealots pushing more product.

    As a technical & linux person … this doesn't really do anything much for me (as much as other efforts anyway, e.g. openpandora, beagleboard, or the touchbook). However another basically free-software platform can't be a bad thing either.

  5. bob

    ATT and Google go out of the way to never appear with each other.

    Sell a USB stick to a netbook owner and you could have $50 a month and make them rent the operating system with bandwidth useage. That is Itunes isn't it?

    Hollywood will love it.

    Still don't think it would catch on.

  6. Glenn

    What are you talking about?

    OS X has more lines of code than Windows and is not inherently more secure.

  7. VG Chicago

    My first career was in software. Alhough I detest Microsoft, and I am well aware that their software (including Windows) is pure programming garbage, I doubt Google has much of a a chance to make much of an impact in the OS market.

    Apple stands a much better chance to impact Microsoft's OS dominance, simply because it makes quality products across the board (from iPods to MacBooks and OSs), and it stands behind its products. Furthermore, the Mac OS is built on UNIX, not the ill-conceived Linux. As much as I appreciate the good intentions of the open source people, that's a pretty lousy way to develop software.

    Vinny G.

  8. Glenn

    "It probably took about 20 or 30 minutes to get root on the box. Initially I tried looking around the box for certain mis-configurations and other obvious things but then I decided to use some unpublished exploits — of which there are a lot for Mac OS X," gwerdna told ZDNet Australia .

    According to gwerdna, the hacked Mac could have been better protected, but it would not have stopped him because he exploited a vulnerability that has not yet been made public or patched by Apple.

    The whole story can be read here:,130061744,139241748,00.htm

  9. Yves Smith

    OS X is a proprietary version of Unix. The kernel is pretty tight and well defined. Windows has long ago lost control of its inner architecture. I am in no position to comment from personal knowledge, but I know people who are experts in security, and they tell me that Windows years ago was inherently impossible to make secure, and every OS upgrade makes it worse because more moving parts keep being bolted onto an unsecurable core.

  10. Yves Smith


    You are arguing from a single vulnerability. That hardly makes the case.

  11. bob

    The story of the birth of the ATM comes to mind. Urban legend has it that it took the banks 5 years before they would locate them outside the bank walls. They didn't become secure overnight, they had to be developed to be completely idiot and tamper proof. The only way to do that is with a lot of time, idiots, and thieves.

    Electronic voting machines that get used once a year will never be able to be secure, the idea is so far beyond crazy. The operating system in the example of the voting machines is just a small part of the problem.

    Security is a process, and most people who fix Windows are at least aware that it is necessary. Mac users worry me, they always assume they are immune.

    That Mac story above is not the only one, there is very little you can do to prevent a determined hacker. The weakest point is always the operator.

    There is no other OS that is attacked as often as Windows, that can be seen as a huge advantage.

  12. Richard

    Google's customers are those folks who pay to advertise on their platform. You-we-us who use Google are less then the dust beneath their chariot wheels: that is their model, acquiring eyeballs so that they can rent the retinas behind them to advertisers. This explains at once, if you think it through, why they have non-customer service. Users are not customers, and any money and time spent on them is a net loss to Google. Seriously. So, "Go away" is the message.

    Similarly, Microsoft's customers for twenty years have been the resellers, and increasingly enterprise ID buyers. The 'endusers?' Padlocked pullets in boxes; no, not even that. Microsoft's total contempt for the users of its wares has been fully evident since forever.

    Apple has its weaknesses, but it does understand its customers. Except for that corporate hack Scully who nearly killed the company because, like the rest of the corporatocracy, he had no use for the actual users of what he sold. Jobs is a different man. And Jobs has, again, come up with the future of personal tech: a uniform system which migrates seamlessly across platforms. To get that, he's kept tight control of platforms and tight control of the OS. But this is the idea, one system/all platforms. And, lemme tell you, that's what the customer wants.

    So here comes Google trying to do something like that. Or not really trying all that hard, actually, but pretending to pursue that goal. Personally, I'll never cloud compute, or use an online platform for my own work. I'm a hard copy man, anyway, but that's another story.

    It is an interesting lesson though, one well worth studying, that the two companies with contempt for the users of their wares have, very rapidly, made many, many billions of dollars while the one company which actually keeps the customer satisfied has made a fraction as much. Just perhaps, this is an example of why organic viruses are legion whereas symbiotic parasites are merely prolific. Eviscerating your host is, in the organic world, the more successful evolutionary strategy. Hmm. . . . _Nasty_, brutish, and short, our passing stays in this purlescent vale of tears. Hmmmm.

  13. Richard Kline

    That 'Richard' above is me, another example of Google's pirating my persona in the guise of 'helping me.' Operator error indeed, as the man above said.

    Bob, indeed any set of code can be hacked with sufficient skill and incentive. Macs are hacked less. _That_ can be seen as a major incentive. More macs = more hacking, but the system is tighter, there's less to exploit, and I suspect patches will be fewer and tighter. If MS had as much sense as they have money, they would blow their Thing up and start over, but that would be admitting that their Scamalot was build on shifting sands. Too much ego between that path and the present one, methinks. Me, I'll take a mac any day, and thrice on Sundays.

  14. asphaltjesus

    Ok, fact check time…

    Yves, OSX uses a BSD kernel. It is not proprietary but POSIX-ish like Old-guard UNIX flavors.
    There were decades of development to make the BSD kernel stable/feature-packed before Apple adopted it.

    Apple figuratively stands on the shoulders of giants (see freeBSD, NetBSD) then adds a windowing system and all of their GUI apps as non-free licensed software.

    A nice way to sum up the differences between Apple's BSD, Microsoft's product and Linux may go something like this: Both Mac and Linux are operating systems designed to operate in hostile networked environments (aka The Internet)at the very lowest levels of the OS. Windows does not/is not any of those things. They have only added more lard on top of an OS NOT designed for hostile networks. Which is why my officemate had to do another Vista reinstall just last week. OS was compromised while it was online.

    Google's OS may not be a plain-vailla Linux distro. If they are extending their phone OS, then for sure it is not distro-like in any way. So even porting an existing application (ex. amarok/xmms2), if possible, would be tough. The security of it is an open question if they are extending the phone OS. Stability should not be an issue.

    The reason they are doing this is Microsoft has nothing to offer in the netbook space. Nothing! No ARM build for XP either In the netbook space, no one else has the capital to match Google.

    As for Google's customer service, Microsoft's is hardly better. Google doesn't have very far to fall.

    See easy peasy for a good netbook distro.

  15. Richard Smith

    Seems I disgree with *everybody*. Oh well.

    Kernels: The NeXT (OS-X ancestor), Linux and NT kernels are all pretty tiny, and much of a muchness for size, at around 20,000 lines of code, and mature internals that inherently aren't going to change much. There are lots of lovely tech details about the way the different kernels are conceived, but very broadly speaking, they all perform the same function of hiding the specific details of the hardware away, which facilitates portability: you have 20,000 lines of very high class, thoughtfully designed and written code to port, not millions of lines of hackery. Jobs exploited this feature of the kernel when he switched from PowerPC hardware to Intel quite painlessly a couple of years back. Intel’s predominance has made portability less of an issue than it was when this type of architecture was dreamed up – Unix implementations still have to deal with it a lot of course. The kernel is still in NT somewhere but Microsoft hasn’t bothered porting to non-Intel architectures for a while. It could probably dust off its kernel-porting skills if some desirable non-Intel hardware came along, though that seems unlikely.

    Lines of code: Lines of code have a very hazy relationship to defects, and defects have a very hazy relationship to security vulnerabilities. Look at tables 1 & 2 here for some data points:

    1. If you look at defect counts, the Windows OS’s look laughable compared with Linux. 2. If you look at known vulnerabilities, Windows and Linux appear to be neck and neck. 3. Lastly, if you look at the ratio of vulnerabilities to defects it appears that even though the Windows family is hugely buggy, its bugs don’t create nearly as many vulnerabilities as Linux defects. But note: all of three of these off the cuff conclusions about the intrinsic merits of the OS families are totally suspect if you don’t know where the debugging effort has been focussed, and where the product is in its lifecycle!

    OS-X The above applies in spades to OS-X. It is quite a chunk – I’ve seen it stated that it has 90,000,000 lines of code, though the meaning of both ‘operating system’ and ‘lines of code’ can vary. Anyhow, it is much much bigger than the very concise and elegant NeXT OS from which it is descended. Who knows about its defects and vulnerabilities? It is pretty obvious from Glen's anecdote that Apple haven’t as yet needed to really get to grips with security issues – in this respect they are where MS was pre-XP. And OS-X’s tendency to slowly bog down without a periodic reboot suggests that there must be a few memory leaks somewhere, which in turn implies a certain nonchalance in the design and engineering The current benign picture of Apple’s OS security may change; it would change very suddenly if the market finally got properly hacked off with clunky Microsoft Vista and started switching to Apple in numbers. That would attract the hackers, and from the look of the sorts of vulnerabilities in the anecdotes, they’d get a pretty easy ride for a bit. Microsoft had to pedal pretty hard to keep up with the worst of the XP exploits and I can’t see why Apple wouldn’t have the same sort of problems. If I were Jobs I’d be seeing how well my Apple apps ported to Linux, just for a spot of insurance, and being fierce about the way the code was built and tested, not just making sure it looked gorgeous. Still, the Apple internals go waay back (BSD?) and are robust. There is nothing here that isn’t fixable to the standard of Linux, say; it’s just that it hasn’t needed to be fixed yet.

  16. Richard Smith

    I don’t fancy the security of any of these OSs all that much. It is all very frustrating. OS-X, Windows and Linux have a common heritage that didn’t really value security as highly as we value it in the Internet Age. TCP -IP is one aspect of that legacy, but another is the hardware. There are lots of hardware designs that promote security – the key components, I suppose, are separation of address spaces, privileged processor modes, segregation of program instructions from program data, segregation of writable program sections from read-only ones. It can all be done with the right kind of memory management and suitable compilers, and it picks off masses of errors during the development process. The sad thing is – it has all been done already, long ago, but it was chucked away just when it was about to get really useful. IBM’s System-38 and AS-400, DEC's VAX and Alpha, all had proprietary variants of these schemes. Intel didn’t implement them in the 386 (it didn’t look like a big corner to cut back then, given the 386’s market) and there was never a right time to catch up later, So here we are, stuck, by and large, with microprocessor-style implementations of merciless programming languages such as ‘C’, which give you exactly what you asked for. If you didn’t mean to ask for a program that accidentally scribbles all over its own internal data structures and leaves a back door for hackers, well, tough.

    All of which still leaves unsolved the big issue of trust in a networked environment. This is a real biggie. Vista just leaves it to the user, with all those nervous prompts when you want to install something. It might as well ask you if you feel lucky.

  17. Stephen Purpura

    If Google's incursion into operating systems galvanizes its critics, including privacy groups and competitors, who argued that the online search company already collects vast amounts of information about consumers' Internet use, then its critics are foolish. Google wants to build the OS because it is a low cost delivery vehicle for application reach in a form factor that they can't reach when MSFT owns the Netbook platform. MSFT/Windows probably will not be beat in the PC form factor, but their biggest risk is in losing relevance through the creation of a popular non-PC form factor that they don't own. This fear generated their investment in Mobile, Netbooks, and Gaming platforms. Similarly, the biggest possible gains for competitors are in these areas. And the strategy of the competitors, since the '90s, has been to whittle away at the necessity of the PC form factor.

  18. kievite

    Let me assume a contrarian role. Several points:

    1. Microsoft created PC platform and license it for free to manufactures. It's OS is a de-facto test when a computer is a PC or not. So everybody else working on PC platform are leaching on Microsoft success. And that's first of all Linux. So in a way Linux is Microsoft parasite that leverages host advantages.

    2. NT architecture is pretty solid and in some ways more advanced then Linux architecture (filesystem, scheduler, .NET). In no way I would call it garbage so Yves here is out of depth. .NET was just a very nice kick in the face into architectural pretensions of Linus Torvalds and like. It make Linux really medieval in comparison and nothing can change that in a short run.

    3. Microsoft Office is an amazing set of applications that is next to impossible to create in a typical large company. Just look at IBM with their half-based overpriced applications. In comparison Microsoft (in user space) is really great American software company. And Office in a serious way leverage the Microsoft platform, leverage tot he extent that it can be now considered to be a part of the platform. Due to this any success of competitors will be limited until Microsoft self-destructs due to age, change of management (like in Warren Buffett’s quote: invest only in businesses that an idiot can run, because sooner or later an idiot will.) or other factors affecting aging corporations.

    4. Linux development including Linus-led kernel development is limited to chasing tailgates. Very little innovation, if at all, for the last 15 years. Quality of OS is low (perma-beta) and stability is even lower (compare with Solaris 10). They compete more on Unix platform attractiveness and zero price then anything else. So Google will have a hard time to establish itself of such a shaky foundation. The fact that applications run in the cloud help as long as you have a good connectivity. But it limits the functionality and creates a security mess of its own.

  19. donna


    I miss emacs…

    But I really miss Multics forums. ;^)

    Richard Kline, would love to see MS blow up their existing systems. Kinda like Jack in the Box blowing up the clown…

    I use Macs and Firefox — Google is great for search and love love love Google reader. They should stick to what they do well.

  20. Mike

    kievite, to address your points:

    1 – Point taken, but Linux covers a wider range than just chasing Windows. It can run embedded wonderfully (and does, in many routers, small devices, etc.) Windows CE doesn't even count here for competition. Linux also runs on supercomputers/clusters well (see all the slashdot jokes about Beowulf clusters). Linux covers a greater range of hardware in general, so it isn't just chasing Windows in that regard (hence Google chose it for what will initially run on small devices, but ultimately targets real PCs).

    2 – NT architecture, at the kernel level (a microkernel as opposed to a more monolithic kernel like Linux) is indeed solid. However, it is in no way more advanced than the Linux kernel. Tickless running, O(1) time scheduler, FS support for vastly more filesystem types, faster FSs than Windows, etc, etc. If anything Linux as a kernel has gained an edge technology-wise, because the development of it is more fluid.

    As for .NET, that has nothing to do with the kernel (unless you are playing with their experimental OS that essentially has a .NET VM embedded in it, but they aren't shipping that). .NET is a VM, a programming framework, and a set of tools. It's decent, and I really like C#. But I can develop for it to great effect on Linux under Novell's Mono. In fact I do, and Mono generally supports more languages, more platforms, and has additional APIs that are more comfortable than WinForms to create applications in. Again, Windows has very little if any advantage, and this is in the application layer.

    3 – Microsoft Office applications are indeed featureful and would be hard to create elsewhere. They're also bloated, have generally awful UI design, are buggy, and full of security holes. You can get used to any number of other office/productivity apps that are free and divorce yourself from MS Office without any material hit to being able to get *real work done*, even in a commercial setting (like, say, where I work we've already proved this is true).

    4 – If you know anything about what Linus and the kernel developers choose to work on and their criteria, you would know they don't spend much time thinking about chasing anybody, much less Microsoft's OS development team. They have their own goals, feedback from users/companies using Linux, and plenty of academic theories they try out in branches to prove new concepts. In the application space on Linux, they tend to do a lot more tailgate chasing, but definitely not in the kernel.

    As for no innovation? I mentioned a couple of OS features that Linux has that I don't think the NT kernels have, and they're all recent developments (in the last 5 years). OS kernel development of necessity is slow, based on small advancements, and when there are big changes they are vetted over a period of potentially years to determine rock-solid stability. The same goes for the NT kernels, if you haven't noticed (the kernel in Vista vs. XP, for example, is probably not very different, and for good reason).

    My point is, all of the "Linux development model is awful" or "Linux just chases windows" arguments are factually on very shaky ground. I have developed both applications from high-level (.NET-style and web apps) to systems-level (driver-ish to bare-metal computer graphics applications) software for Windows XP/Vista, Linux of various flavors, and Mac OS and Mac OS X, and I also have my own operation systems toy project that I work on from time to time to keep my mind tuned to how to deal with OSs properly as a software developer. I can conclusively say all this subtle and not-so-subtle Linux bashing in these comments are unfounded.

    Google isn't stupid. They chose Linux for good reason. If I were working at Google, I absolutely would have advocated Linux. Kudos to them for choosing an open-source kernel, and contributing to it, because that makes all of us better off in the long run.

  21. asphaltjesus

    Richard Smith: Only in the most magical thinking kind of way is there a 'common heritage' in regards to the security features from Mac to Linux to Windows. I agree that i386 is/was not the technical best solution, but now it's almost all we've got.

    kievete: I run a mixed server environment and was woken up (again) last night to fix the Windows box (again) because Windows does not have some features already available on Linux. Do I have other issues with the Linux boxes? Sure. But I have *far* less babysitting with the Linux servers.

    In regards to "innovation", this is a vague metric. Most ideas are refined from some other project so no OS project can be described as "more" or "less" innovative.

    Stability isn't an issue for any of the OS's on topic. The rest of your comments are not accurate.

    Microsoft is in a very weak position in this netbook space. XP is an orphaned project yet it's the only one that can possibly run on netbooks. Yes, they have WinCE. But it's not an XP desktop at all. Getting a project ready for netbooks would be a huge commitment and years of work at Microsoft's scale.

    Is it "the end of Microsoft?" No way. Are they being slowly encircled? Yes.

    Does Google have an automatic win with this one? No. Especially if they are using their phone OS. It's a Linux kernel, but nothing at all like the typical Linux distro.

  22. Richard Smith

    Asphalt, don't be horrible, it's not magical thinking, it's just shared history. The limits to how secure the OS can be are set by the hardware.

    Agree that we're stuck with variations on the x86 for the foreseeable future.

  23. William Mitchell

    I would not call it a frontal assault. More like a joyride around the Maginot.

    Logically GOOG would attack MSFT at its weakest, most inflexible point: netbooks, where Vista doesn't run at all, and Windows 7 Beta is reportedly slow (and also unfinished).

    Just as logically, GOOG would attack MSFT where switching costs are lowest. Netbooks are not used for heavyweight desktop software, and hence their users have lower OS switching costs than users of, say, Windows-based accounting software.

    Why do it? Because user-friendly netbooks would hugely increase the total number of Google users. For now, netbook adoption is limited by the expense and slowness of Windows, and by the user-unfriendliness of Linux.

    Linux distros, though super useful (I run five), have low consumer adoption because of less polished UI and peripheral support. These are solvable problems, but remain unsolved because no one entity has resources and interest to polish free software.

    But given is an economic reason, it can be done. Apple built its slick UI atop BSD Unix to sell more hardware. If Google thinks it can sell more ads and services atop a consumer-friendly Linux, they certainly have the resources to make Linux friendly to Peoria.

    Summary: they have no intention of moving up the ladder to heavyweight PCs. Instead, this is an "Innovator's Dilemma" move, creating a low-end mass market product that will always remain economically unviable for Microsoft.

  24. Steve Koch

    FUD is exactly the word I thought of when I saw Google's announcement of a product that will come out at the end of 2010.

    It should be much easier to bullet proof the Linux kernel than to bullet proof Windows. For many years Bill Gates tightly coupled the parts of his OS, partially to improve performance and partially to prevent competitors from offering superior versions of those OS components. That architecture can't make bullet proofing the OS easier.

    Gates did not invent the PC architecture, IBM did. Microsoft did not even write the first version of MS-DOS, they bought if from somebody. Gates did invent Basic, a horrible language for many years until it was forcibly cleaned up in the .Net incarnation.

    .Net was not a major technical innovation. .Net copied the best ideas from the Java architecture. I will say that if you already know C++, it is much easier to learn C# than Java.

    Eric Schmidt, Google CEO (IIRC), is on the Apple board of directors. You have to think that Apple and Google have complementary strategies that focus on drying up MS revenue.

    I switched from Internet Explorer (MS browser) to Google Chrome. Google Chrome is way better in terms of speed and reliability.

    There is no way that Google can provide human customer support for a product that they give away for free (presumably in a volume of 10's of millions if not 100's of millions). Google will have to construct/improve expert systems to deal with this issue.

    Google's support of open source is awesome.

    Even though I used to work for Intel, I don't think that we're stuck with x86 for the foreseeable future.

    My understanding is that Google has said that Android and Chrome OS are completely separate products. It would really be interesting to know what, if anything, that they share (i.e. from a developer perspective).

  25. Rik

    It doesn't matter if COS will be succesfull or not. Google has just axed both Jobs Co. as well as Bill&Steve Software.
    1. Google has Blogger.
    2. Google has 'Rosy' (part of to-be-launched Google Wave), an seemingly excellent translator.
    If you, Yves Smith, know anything that I, Dutchman, do not, Rosy translates per character your, say, French into my Dutch. Very handy too in mmorpgs dominated by, say, Chinese.
    3. Future computers are supposed to be powerful, pervasive and possibly wearable. WTF do you bloated Vista & W7 and hardware dependent OS X for?
    4. Google Wave, besides it nice integrated with mobile devices, bears an awful resemblance to G Reader.
    5. Google has a banking license. The others do not.
    6. Is big bad GOOG doing this for the Western market at all?

  26. bobn

    1. Microsoft created PC platform and license it for free to manufactures. It's OS is a de-facto test when a computer is a PC or not. So everybody else working on PC platform are leaching on Microsoft success. And that's first of all Linux. So in a way Linux is Microsoft parasite that leverages host advantages.

    You Could not be more wrong if you tried. IBM created and opened the PC platform. MS had nothing to do with it. Linux takes nothing from microsoft. microsoft is the biggest parasite ever. I wish I had back all the time I've spent fixing stuff that happens because microsoft is so inept/corrupt.

  27. Argel

    "Wow, I never thought I'd see the day when a company made a frontal assault on Microsoft's core business."

    Microsoft's core business is Windows and Office. Right now Google is targeting the Netbook market, which would only be a portion of the Windows market, so they are not exactly challenging Microsoft's core business yet.

    As for other challengers, what about NeXT, Apple (why rule them out?), Be, IBM (OS/2), various Linux distros (SuSE from several years ago and Ubuntu from today come to mind), Sun's Java Desktop Environment, etc?

    Chrome OS is more like WebOS. The actual OS runs off of the Linux kernel (so in that sense you could lump it into the Linux camp) and then launches Chrome, Google's web browser. Are consumers really ready for a Web-only experience? What happens when you don't have Internet access?

    I have to wonder if Google is missing the boat here. Chrome OS reminds me of thin clients, which appeal more to businesses than individual consumers.

  28. Yves Smith

    Apple and Windows grew up at the same time, different than someone new launching an attack on MS.

    I owned a NeXT. NeXT was never a direct competitor for MS. It was a workstation (remember those?) not a PC or PC equivalent. It was going after Sun's market. I did happen to own one as a mere mortal, but almost without exception, the only other standalone users were developers. The major installations were all running large networks by the standards of that day (NSA, derivatives players).

    You are right re OS2. but that was late 1980s, MS hegemony less well established then. Never sure what Be's target market was, but I don't recall them as targeting broader PC market.

    Not that Google is, per comments above, but the announcement did say they intended to then migrate later to bigger hardware.

    The whole Linux open source is not targeting MS directly, since they don't operate from a business strategy headset, but a purity of code vantage. They could care less re user friendliness. Recall you 've had to have companies like Red Hat jump into fill that gap. If they had "get Microsoft" ambitions, they'd care about the needs of mere mortals.

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