Yesterday, Google finally announced what many were expecting – a full-on operating system to compete directly with Microsoft Windows. What is somewhat less expected is that they are using their Chrome product instead of their Android platform as many anticipated.
The Chrome OS will be the Chrome browser on top of a Linux core. The operating system will boot to the browser and do little else. The Internet becomes the operating system.
The benefit for consumers will be a mainstream operating system that doesn’t have Microsoft Windows or Microsoft Office. The downside is that we already have Linux for that purpose. We already have a netbook remix of Ubuntu Linux that is very fast and yet robust.
Google’s Chrome browser was over-hyped and feature-poor, and it’s still slow more often than it’s fast. Chrome doesn’t have the beauty of Safari, the legacy of IE, the applications of Firefox nor the completeness of Opera. In the same way, Chrome OS won’t have the beauty of OS X, the robustness of Linux nor the install base of Windows. Google is again trying to force its way into a market space by inserting a product that is trying to compete with established players by surpassing none of them on the merits.
Smart money is that Google’s Chrome OS will be as slow and feature-poor as its browser still is, but its tough to immagine how this play from Google isn’t going to shake up the netbook and low-budget PC market.