Google's Chrome OS Gets Tarnished

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From its meat-and-potatoes search engine to its superhyped Android mobile operating system, Google gets plenty of love. But few tech-bloggers' hearts are throbbing after the preview of the Chrome OS this week. Billed as a Windows and Mac killer, Chrome will only run Internet applications. Here's why some tech writers are skeptical that consumers will fall for Google's Web-centric operating system:

  • Too Unfamiliar Kyle Buckley at Nillabyte doesn't buy the idea that Google aims to make Chrome the de-facto standard for netbooks. He's also skeptical that the company can sell Chrome to desktop and PC users because their current operating systems work well enough: "I'll be surprised if Google's OS will take anything away from Microsoft Windows or Apple's Mac OS X. As far as computing goes, most are satisfied with their operating systems. Users who buy a netbook want a familiar interface, hence they will likely choose Windows." Randall Kennedy at InfoWorld agrees heartily that the current market leader will retain its position: "The bottom line is that while there is virtually nothing that you'll be able to do with the Chrome OS that you won't be able to do equally well with Windows, there are literally millions of things that you can do with Windows today that you'll likely never be able to do with the Chrome OS."
  • Untouchable, Literally Cult of Mac blogger Leander Kahney spots what he thinks is a major fault with Chrome: "It's not optimized for touchscreens." Kahney says that touchscreens are only going to become a more important once Apple's Tablet goes on sale. As he puts it "Google says the Chrome OS will be launched by this time next year, by which time Apple will probably have reinvented the mobile computing experience with a multitouch tablet...Google says the UI [User-interface] is still under development and is subject to change; they'll have to change it radically if they want a chance of competing with Apple, which has already adapted Snow Leopard for touchscreens."
  • Silverlight Is More Valuable ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley thinks that Chrome's main competition won't be the Windows or Mac operating systems, but a Microsoft browser extension called Silverlight. Like Adobe's Flash plug-ins, Silverlight is designed to allow users to stream multimedia content over the web, including the same types of web apps Google is integrating into Chrome. Furthermore, as she points out, Silverlight is downloadable on multiple browsers across all existing operating systems, giving it more flexibility than Chrome. As she explains: "I understand Silverlight is not an operating system. But some Google watchers are questioning whether the Chrome OS is actually an operating system, either, or just a glorified browser. Unlike Silverlight, which can run on a variety of PCs and soon, phones, Google OS is going to be a dedicated Linux-based netbook OS that will only work with certain predesignated peripherals."
  • Sells Out Users Andrew Villeneuve of the Northwest Progressive Institute Advocate persuasively debunks the notion that Chrome OS is a revolutionary product, reminding readers that similarly-designed "thin-client workstations" have been around for years on library terminals, which commonly run non-local apps. However, he also finds Google's new operating system potentially sinister, as it belies the fact the company "makes money by storing information and monetizing it." As he warns: "Chrome OS isn't intended to help users; it's being created to mine their data so Google can turn a bigger profit." Furthermore, by moving all computing activity to the web, he thinks Chrome makes users an excellent target for surveillance: "Chrome, on the other hand, will be perfect for people who like the idea of a private version of the National Security Agency tracking where they go online, sifting through their data, and building profiles of them to sell advertising."
  • Old News Econsultancy blogger Patricio Robles is on the same page as those who say that Chrome isn't anything new. He offers 12 reasons in total why it is destined for failure, including the fact that its browser predecessor hasn't taken off: "If consumers aren't flocking to download Chrome the browser for free, why will they flock to pay for machines with Chrome OS when the key selling points are largely the same? Answer: they won't."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.