Forget the accusations that George Bush planned the war in Iraq from his earliest days in office. The really big news was released yesterday on the Official Google blog:
[T]oday, we’re announcing a new project that’s a natural extension of Google Chrome [Web browser] — the Google Chrome Operating System. It’s our attempt to re-think what operating systems should be.
Google Chrome OS is an open source, lightweight operating system that will initially be targeted at netbooks. Later this year we will open-source its code, and netbooks running Google Chrome OS will be available for consumers in the second half of 2010. Because we’re already talking to partners about the project, and we’ll soon be working with the open source community, we wanted to share our vision now so everyone understands what we are trying to achieve.
Speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS. We’re designing the OS to be fast and lightweight, to start up and get you onto the web in a few seconds. The user interface is minimal to stay out of your way, and most of the user experience takes place on the web. And as we did for the Google Chrome browser, we are going back to the basics and completely redesigning the underlying security architecture of the OS so that users don’t have to deal with viruses, malware and security updates. It should just work.
That sound you just heard was Microsoft’s lawyers figuring out how to prompt anti-trust regulators to take action against Google. That other sound you just heard was everyone else in the world sniggering at the thought of Microsoft cooperating with anti-trust regulators.
Aside from the sniggering, Google’s new OS has the potential to really change the way we think about the Web. Imagine an operating system that is fast, small, stable, and extremely resistant to online security threats. And imagine that operating system is opensource so that a community of programmers can keep it safe, and develop new functionalities for it. If Google can actually deliver such a product, this really could be a big deal.
Why? Because with a free OS, you should be able to buy a netbook for a couple hundred bucks. That netbook will be smaller and lighter than your current laptop, so you won’t care if it gets stolen (and if it does get stolen, all your data will be online, not on the netbook). So you’ll leave your current laptop at home, and when it’s time to replace it, you’ll buy a less-expensive but more powerful desktop machine (and you won’t have to worry about transferring data from the netbook to the desktop machine because the netbook’s data will be online). Or if all you have right now is a desktop machine, you will be more likely to get a netbook.
At this point, all the Linux fans will rear up and point out (rightly) that the Google OS is little more than a stripped-down version of Linux. This is true, but lots of people are already using GMail and Google Docs (and who would never use Linux because of its geeky reputation), and they will just assume that Google’s OS is going to be easy to use.
So this is big. It is not huge, nor will it threaten Computing As We Know It. But it’s big.