Google Chrome – the first Web-based OS?

Normally I’m not interested in tech news, but it’s nice to be proven right once in a while.  Back in March I wrote quite a theoretical post about whether it was possible to take on Microsoft Windows, and if so how.  You can read the full article here, but in a nutshell my main suggestion was:

“Look at the trends with technology and the Internet. Everything is done on the internet these days and not locally — webmail (Gmail), pictures (flickr), music and video streaming (lastfm, youtube, etc), gaming, and more. Everyone has a website, or a myspace profile, or a facebook page, or a blog — a lot of people have all of those and more. What I’m getting at here is that if you’re going to take on Microsoft, you have to be prepared to take a leap and do something no one else is willing to do.

My idea is simple but a little scary — integrate the operating system with the Internet. So instead of using Firefox, or Chrome, the entire OS is the browser. I don’t mean like that crappy active desktop feature in windows, I mean 100% full integration.”  David vs. Goliathsoft

And, big surprise, yesterday Google announced that they’re adapting their Chrome web browser into a fully-fledged operating system (initially for netbooks, mind).

“We designed Google Chrome for people who live on the web — searching for information, checking email, catching up on the news, shopping or just staying in touch with friends. However, the operating systems that browsers run on were designed in an era where there was no web. So today, we’re announcing a new project that’s a natural extension of Google Chrome — the Google Chrome Operating System. It’s our attempt to re-think what operating systems should be.

We hear a lot from our users and their message is clear — computers need to get better. People want to get to their email instantly, without wasting time waiting for their computers to boot and browsers to start up. They want their computers to always run as fast as when they first bought them. They want their data to be accessible to them wherever they are and not have to worry about losing their computer or forgetting to back up files. Even more importantly, they don’t want to spend hours configuring their computers to work with every new piece of hardware, or have to worry about constant software updates. And any time our users have a better computing experience, Google benefits as well by having happier users who are more likely to spend time on the Internet.”  Introducing Google Chrome OS

As I said before, for many people, Google = The Internet, so I think it makes natural (marketing) sense for them to take this step.  Whether it’s the right step to take, is another matter entirely.  Like Microsoft, Google are dipping their toes into a lot of different markets (it’s been speculatated that they’ve lost between $174m-$470m on YouTube this year), and honestly, I would have preferred an outsider to have taken this step.

That said, I swear by GMail, and someone needs to give Microsoft a run for their money, so Google is as good as any.

To be continued…