Google has announced that it is launching an operating system (OS) called Chrome to compete with the dominance of Microsoft Windows. This comes just weeks after Microsoft launched Bing, a search engine it hopes will eat into the market share of Google. And back and forth we go. How seriously should we take Google's foray in the Windows domain? Very seriously, if the technology blogs are any indication.
Not because we know Google Chrome will totally rock. We know close to nothing about the product. What we know is that Google has already developed Chrome, a web browser allegedly used regularly by 30 million people, an impressive number which I'm quite certain includes exactly nobody I know. The Official Google Blog says their OS product, built for and designed to run the web browser, will be available on small netbooks starting in 2010. It promises to open-source the code, which leads many techie bloggers to hope that the program will ultimately pack all sorts of sweet web apps which we can only pretend to guess at. But how would Google Chrome OS actually be better for your computer?
Wired goes brainstorming. Charlie Sorrel envisions a Chrome OS that is cheap, even downloadable from online, fast enough to deliver boot up times in seconds rather than minutes, web-based so that every file you write, create or download is automatically saved to an online cove you can tap into from a home desktop or road laptop, and brimming with cheap applications that make watching videos, storing music and making presentations easier than ever. In other words, Chrome is a huge power grab aimed at the always-connected, on-the-road techie whose small netbook needs something cheap and fast that won't crash or sap battery life with boot up times. If Windows sometimes feels like protective medieval chain mail that weighs down your small laptop's memory, Google wants to provide a softer KEVLAR option for your computer.
And that, PC World says, is precisely why it will fail. Netbooks aren't the whole world, in fact they're a small (if growing) segment of the PC market, and if Google starts making headway into the netbook realm, Microsoft can wield its awesome market-dominating position and simply give away a cheap version of its established, well known netbook operating system to edge Chrome out of the market.
Like I said, and back and forth they go. We could further guesstimate Chrome's market capacity, but the fact is that Google's initial description of Chrome is a black-and-white outline that leaves all the coloring in to the imagination of tech bloggers.