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Rory Cellan-Jones

Google Chrome - one day on...

  • Rory Cellan-Jones
  • 9 Jul 09, 16:20 GMT

Yesterday, as news emerged of Google's plans for a lightweight operating system for netbooks, I immediately began receiving messages from people telling me that this was not a story.

In particular, the Linux community - and I apologise for doubting in yesterday's post whether they are a community - seemed united in hostility to the idea that the Chrome OS was anything new.

Well, on the whole I'm glad that we ignored that, but it's worth reflecting on whether the whole story was as significant as it first seemed.

Google's new Linux-based operating system is only taking on Windows in one relatively small area, netbooks, and even there it's becoming clear that success is far from guaranteed.

I've been speaking to two firms planning to work with Google on the Chrome OS, one very cautious about its prospects, the other more enthusiastic.

The first, an executive from a netbook manufacturer who did not want to be named, said early hopes that customers for new small web-centred computers would embrace Linux had been dashed. "The market is now about 96% Windows," he told me. "Every manufacturer will admit that demand for Windows-based notebooks has far outstripped that for Linux."

He told me that customers wanted a familiar interface, and were worried about whether Linux would work with devices like mobile broadband USB dongles. "Linux just can't invest in that kind of compatibility," he told me. But he was encouraged by Google's ambitions: "If they can overcome those compatibility problems, bring in a user-friendly interface, then I think people will be interested."

Then I spoke to Ian Drew, vice-president for marketing at the British chip designer ARM whose processors are in many of the world's smartest mobile phones. He was much more excited about Chrome - which isn't surprising as ARM has been invited, along with Intel, to work on the operating system.

I asked him why customers would be any more inclined to desert Windows for Chrome than they had been to move to other flavours of Linux. He drew parallels with the smartphone world:

"If we'd had this conversation three years ago you'd have said nobody was going to beat Nokia Symbian - then Apple comes along with an innovative user interface and Google comes along with another. If things are designed that are easy to use and innovative and the right price, then there's room in the market."

He felt that familiarity with Google - and its reputation for usability - would give it a better chance than unknown Linux variants of winning customers. But he warned it wouldn't be easy, and that the new OS would have to be innovative:

"It can't just be seen as a replacement for Microsoft, it has to be seen to be x times different."

What struck me from both conversations is how rapidly the world is changing - the netbook market didn't exist a couple of years ago - yet how conservative consumers remain.

So Google's Chrome OS was big news in that it reflected the shift away from the desktop and into the cloud, but convincing people that they want to be part of that world is still going to be quite a challenge.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Heh: to that manufacturer exec, 3G dongles on linux are far, far, far easier to get working than Windows. In ubuntu, I plug my 3G dongle in, and I get a popup asking me who my supplier is.

    I have had far, far more trouble getting stuff to work in Windows (sound card, graphics card etc) than I've ever had with ubuntu.

    Mainly, normally, it just works. Simply just works! I really have never found that with windows, there is always some faffing around with drivers and programs and installations :(

  • Comment number 2.

    Mmm, Google's reputation for usability has hardly helped it in taking over the Browser market or mobile phone market.

    Everything in the 'cloud' is such hype right now. Enterprises have no interest so they need to try and tempt consumers instead but these users are even more scared of using the Internet. How many of them are going to want to store all their personal documents on some server in another company with no real control over the security of them (and you can bet they wont get much of an SLA either)?

    You've then got the problem of access to them via an Internet infrastructure that is far from perfect. Many people have low speed links, the links fail (last mile to exchange bit), performance is rubbish in the evenings etc. ISP's are hardly going to be falling over themselves with joy at yet more Internet traffic.

    Just what percentage of the PC world only use the thing for e-mail and browsing I wonder? How many of those use other programs for music, watching DVD's, managing photo's? Yes it could all work from the cloud but have you any idea how long it takes to upload a few gigs of pictures and music?

    It seems to me that the media have hyped this announcement way beyond the real impact and that in a year or so it will just end up being another option on Netbooks for email/web users and thats it.

  • Comment number 3.

    "Linux just can't invest in that kind of compatibility,"

    It can. A number of Linux developers have offered to write drivers for free.

    http://www.kroah.com/log/2007/01/29/

  • Comment number 4.

    A few notes:

    Asus made the mistake of using the unknown Linpus Linux distribution instead of the applauded Ubuntu Linux distribution - it looked completely alien even to a long term Linux user like me, no wonder it failed!

    Mobile broadband works surprising well on Linux, many dongles just need plugging in and then it asks what service provider you use. Oh, that'll be '3 Mobile' please... "Connected" it tells me...

    Linux CommunitIES would be more realistic. Each 'distribution' (for the uninitiated, that's a bundle of support for your PC called Linux, a Windows equivalent, and a bunch of useful programs) has a band of followers, and, whatever purists might think about knowing the difference between the Linux kernel and a distro, this DOES confuse the branding and create support issues for the average joe.

    Chrome will NOT be just another distribution (and certainly not another OS as such), it will be a stack of services (including Linux) that people will be able to trust because of the Google BRAND.
    Saying that, Ubuntu has some momentum too.

    Getting Adobe on board is excellent!
    Another brand, Flash, that people know and TRUST. This rather out manoeuvres Apple as well.

    The Chrome OS will be a fast loading window onto the internet. When people create/edit documents and email them as a link that ANYBODY can view, WITHOUT needing Windows/Office, it really diminishes the importance of the Office file formats.

    The Office suite WILL be required in business due to features like using a backend databases to get contact details, etc - but seeing as Open Office can export readable Office documents, this is of no importance to home users anyway.

    Google are also working on their 'native client' which will make applications through the web browser run with blistering speed compared to Java and other scripting rubbish.

    The -Internet- will ultimately become the standard platform, not Windows.

    You won't need to pay an extra £60 or so Microsoft -tax- when buying a PC, just to get to use services which are otherwise freely available.


    Online/native client applications to replace Office, etc will also have to be free (as OpenOffice/Firefox/Thunderbird/VLC already are), to make it a compelling alternative, so it will be interesting to see how Google make money in the long run.

    It could be that this is just a charitable act to release the world of the Microsoft taxation, which is only necessary because they move the goalposts on their own terms (file format meddling, API meddling, etc).

    Doing this would create a level playing field where Microsoft have to compete fairly with other application vendors rather than having the luxury of forcing them on us with our new PC.

    What I DONT see, is Google intending on -replacing- Microsoft in dominance, suffocating the competition, restricting access to choice, coercing users, manipulating standards, or creating dependence.

    More likely, they will be positioned to sell innovative new services that widespread adoption of an open and connected platform will make possible in the future.

    By opening up the future, they create quite enough opportunity to go around.


    BTW, yes, I use Linux. My life is no poorer since I made the switch.
    In fact, I am much richer; I needed to draw a diagram recently - did I buy Visio or something? No! I typed 'diagram' into my 'Package Manager' which is an index of -free- software. It offered me a program called 'dia'.
    It was fantastic, my document looked great in no time at all, and I didn't have to waste money buying a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

  • Comment number 5.

    IanMears:

    Google has only been in the Phone/Browser markets for 5 minutes!

    Security, bandwidth, speed, etc. Good concerns.

    But, please take a look at http://code.google.com/p/nativeclient/

    You wouldn't need to be running over the internet, or store your documents on the internet. It's primarily about replacing Windows with the web browser, and the open standards the implies.

  • Comment number 6.

    ParkyDR: Problem is, the workings of the hardware are exposed by the source code of the driver. I suppose they think that a closed source driver is cheaper than patenting - or maybe they cant patent their techniques?

    Either way, there is reluctance to engage.
    As if a competitor can't reverse engineer the driver to understand anyway!

    Certainly the company I work at occasionally has to run supplied 3rd party drivers in user space to avoid opening the source via GPL liabilities.
    Annoying.

  • Comment number 7.

    @kryme76

    Linux didn't fail because of the distribution, it failed because it's Linux. Nobody wants it in comparison to Windows and until the Linux communities actually realise that until they have a single homogeneous distribution no-one will.

    As for Chrome OS, surely Apple will also be concerned? An OS that's secure, safe and 'just works' but which can be installed on countless hardware combinations? I can see that putting a dent in Mac sales too.

  • Comment number 8.

    I have Window 7 RC both the 32 bit and 64 bit Versions for evaluation purposes and have found that an Aten DVI KVM switch that works fine between XP Pro and Vista will not work between Vista and Windows 7, either bit version.
    It looks like Microsoft have moved the hardware goalpost yet again rendering this less than a year old KVM switch a scrapper!
    If Google can stop the waste of perfectly good hardware equipment in what is supposed to be the "Green" era then strength to the elbow that's what I say!
    Regards,
    Les.

  • Comment number 9.

    Intel is already trying something similar with 'moblin'. I ran a beta of it on my netbook for a while, but i gave up and went back to acer's linpus lite, it was too buggy at that stage.

    with a bit of help from various forums, i can get my aspire one to act more how i want, which is a strange MS windows like environment!?

    for me having grown up with windows, that is the 'right' way... i honestly don't care if the way the linux file system works was the first way, the windows way is what i'm used to.

  • Comment number 10.

    netbooks won't be flavour of the month for ever, Google OS whilst having a huge backing in cash, will probably have adverts in there somewhere, Linux flavours like Ubuntu won't. If everything is based on cloud computing and you lose your connection to the net , what then ? , what happens about cloud security ? its not and will never be 100% secure, seems like the Google cash can pay and attract headlines like I've seen over the past few days since this story was reported, would be nice to see news about other projects that are the hidden jems when it comes to mainstream computing.

  • Comment number 11.

    As kryme76 has mentioned, I think the key to all this is Google's nativeclient project. It's similar to what Java tried to do in creating an application platform that makes the operating system irrelevant. Microsoft realised this threat to Windows and set out to kill the cross-platform ability by releasing their own version of Java (read more about it here: http://www.usdoj.gov/atr/cases/f1700/1762.htm ). Whether they will be able to achieve the same against nativeclient, I'm not sure.

    Meanwhile Google Chrome OS will act as the carrier for nativeclient. It's free, will allow netbook users to do pretty much most of what they bought a netbook for anyway, and new applications can be delivered via nativeclient as developers start targeting the platform. Once it gathers momentum and a large proportion of users realise that all their application needs can be found running under Google Chrome OS, maybe they'll wonder whether they really need Windows on the desktop?







  • Comment number 12.

    This is what Google have been building to for years, and some have always known it.

    With HTML5, Flash, Google Gears, Google Base, Picasa, The Google Apps Suite, including Calendar, Contacts and GMail, Google Earth/Maps, Google Talk, Android and of course their Chrome software, they can offer you your content anywhere at anytime, as long as you have an internet connection, and using Google Gears, even without a connection which will then be able to sync up later live into the cloud.

    Of course, there are still things that they won't be able to handle... Your multimedia content for example. BUT, they are only small steps away from linking their entire suite together in order to provide their dream of organising the world's information.

    By using open source products, and opening up their APIs for anyone to use, they have put themselves in a strong position, because as long as you use standards complaint browsers (all available for free on multiple platforms, except one...) then you'll be able to get your content anywhere, anytime on any device.

    This is the realisation of the plan Netscape had several years ago, but now with a computer with the financial and commercial clout to do it. Its a shame Google haven't put more weight behind Ubuntu as a mature product, but Google have years and years of expertise with Linux that people seem to be forgetting. Including their own file systems and custom distributions at the server end running on multiple off the shelf standard systems as their server farm.

    However, I don't think this is a swipe at Microsoft in the long run, if anything it serves to damage Apple and Ubuntu more, as the things they want to do are more likely to be in the consumer space, as Enterprise isn't going to go anywhere near an immature product like Chrome OS is.

    Its just a shame they haven't gone towards adopting Ubuntu, and using their abilities to further enhance that product which already had the same goals in mind.

  • Comment number 13.

    I look forward to using Chrome OS when its released, however I seriously doubt that it will become main stream. If anything I would say its a bash back at Microsoft for Bing reinventing Search :)

  • Comment number 14.

    "What I DONT see, is Google intending on -replacing- Microsoft in dominance, suffocating the competition, restricting access to choice, coercing users, manipulating standards, or creating dependence."

    Let's face it, this is what EVERY company really wants. Why else would Google China have happened? Why did Apple drag their feet over DRM so long? Et cetera...

    No one in this business is benign, excepting maybe Pete Molyneux.

  • Comment number 15.

    it is an all too common error that people propagate the factoid that
    "only" x % of people use linux or "only" y % of the market is Mac users (for x or y around 5) - the crucial point is what _type_ of users these are - linux users are technical developers and often contribute to majpor software businesses in games or telecom (esp. mobile telephone) or critical industry control systems. Mac users are grapic designers, game designers, architects, musicians. These are people who influence things. most windows users are in admin/secretarial or what we used to call paper pushers (oh for the mythical papersless office) and don';t count for much. This is why the opinions of both the liunux community and the apple lovers matter. why else do you think microsoft and google are scared or woo them (respectively)?

  • Comment number 16.

    7. I agree entirely with your 1st comment. The huge variation of software is a good thing in theory on Linux based systems but all in all a standardised approach needs to be adopted to ensure further people move to the likes of Ubuntu. I love my Ubuntu laptop and PC. But at the same time I know what I am getting with my other laptop which houses XP. My PC also boots into XP, Vista and 7RC1 along with Ubuntu and I still find myself going more towards the windows installations on a daily basis, unless I am just looking to browse the web. My Mac is another story entirely that's for my wife and it get's to stay in the lounge as it's "pretty" apparently.

    As for the Mac sales dent. Can't really see a noticeable dent unless Apple screw up their designs.

    All in all competition should improve all of the various services out there.

    Rory: I'm impressed with your latest blogs and just to prove it I'm writing this on my Mac.

  • Comment number 17.

    Rory

    Please accept my apologies if I am wrong, but it appears that you never used/tried to install any recent linux distro? If you are both a journalist and a techie, then maybe you should try out a live CD on your PC and give us your impressions of the OS before making assumptions about linux/community/usability/compatibility? I am not saying that you are losing credibility by the second, but it just reads as if you have not really researched your comments and stories.

  • Comment number 18.

    The BBC website uses Apache on a Solaris box.
    ITV, puzzlingly, claim to be using IIS on a Linux box.
    Channel 4 use Apache on a Linux box.
    Channel 5 used to use IIS on a Win Server 2003, but since last December have switched to Apache / Linux.
    Google use their own webserver on a Linux box.
    Wikipedia - Apache / Linux.
    Facebook - Apache / F5-Big-IP.
    Twitter - Apache / Linux.
    YouTube - Apache / Linux.
    MySpace also claim to use IIS on a Linux box.

    Even Microsoft's Bing search engine runs on a Linux box...
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]http://www.bing.com

  • Comment number 19.

    @14 tengearbatbike

    Have you been watching 'The Corporation'?!

    Yes, capitalism is driven by the psychopathic pursuit of 'shareholder value' at the expense of everything/one external that can bear the true costs.

    But, a company that keeps its lawn cut by bringing in 200 goats:
    http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/05/mowing-with-goats.html
    to save on carbon emissions can't be a run of the mill psycho-corp!

    Besides, if you're in a position to make new markets and poised to create great offerings into these markets, you don't need to dominate like your life depended on it.

  • Comment number 20.

    @15 - honestcrowcroft

    Typical developer-esque arrogance - I use x,y,z - why don't other people its so easy/safe etc - anyone who uses Microsoft is an idiot etc

    You have to remember that the 95% who don't matter in your books are also "the market" - these are the guys who pay and at the end of the day most of the development has to generate money. All these people who use a window's machine may not know much about how it works or what is the best operating software - they want something that is familiar and does roughly what they want it to do. Its a consumer led market - remember the surge in sales of Apple are driven by the ipod and the re-establishment of it as being a cool brand - not to do with technical superiority of operating systems etc - I suspect even Jobs would agree that style over substance works in terms of generating the $$'s

  • Comment number 21.

    @7 Mark_MWFC

    "Linux didn't fail because of the distribution, it failed because it's Linux."

    Bad distributions can't make for failure?
    Then was the failure of WindowsME just a dream?!

    "Nobody wants it in comparison to Windows and until the Linux communities actually realise that until they have a single homogeneous distribution no-one will."

    Well, it looked like Ubuntu would be the distro which could dominate and enter mainstream consciousness, but yes, a champion is required.

    If the Aspire One wasn't shipped with that crippled Linpus distro it would've helped. I almost believe Microsoft paid them to ship that, to poison public perception.

    "As for Chrome OS, surely Apple will also be concerned? An OS that's secure, safe and 'just works' but which can be installed on countless hardware combinations? I can see that putting a dent in Mac sales too."

    Aye, perhaps. I guess it depends how niche a particular user is. Are Mac users still mostly artists? It might take a while for comparable tools to appear - though, that cosy relationship with Adobe will help!

  • Comment number 22.

    There is no reason for Microsoft to take any more than a cursory interest in Chrome.

    I drive 3 desktop machines with different versions of Windows and a macbook. Mac OS X is the best interface, it's fastest, cleanest, most intuitive, most user-friendly and (so far) works for everything I have tried. But put my Windows-trained parents in front of it and they are lost.

    No matter how much better Chrome is, it won't overcome the decades of user familiarity, particularly in the less-competent computer user. Targetting netbooks looks initially like it might be aimed at younger, more mobile users before they develop their full-on Windows-addiction, but it only really works until the point that they get a job and are parked in front of a company-wide Windows system for 8 hours a day.

  • Comment number 23.

    @ #22

    You're forgetting that an interface is not merely defined by familiarity (although it is one facet), an unfamiliar, well designed UI can sway users away from a familiar, poorly designed, out-of-date UI. Fanboys on the other hand will forever make the wrong choices...

  • Comment number 24.

    @22 kevinmorice

    "No matter how much better Chrome is, it won't overcome the decades of user familiarity..."

    Err, so how do you find these people that are so unfamiliar with a web browser? They've been around for a while now...

    'The operating system, which will run on an open source licence, was a "natural extension" of its Chrome browser, the firm said.'
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8139711.stm

    Did people fail to use Facebook because it didn't follow Windows style guides, or was it familiar enough to get started?

    Now imagine the web browsers we all know and love are powerful enough to do everything as well as a Windows/Mac/Linux application can natively.

    Imagine everything you want to do can be done through the web browser as more and more applications get written or converted.

    Imagine the browser is the first thing you load to do everything, and ask... do you really need Windows anymore? Just to load a browser?

    Imagine installing Chrome Linux (let's be honest, its a superior distribution rather than an OS in its own right) means your browser loads in half the time or saves you £60 on the price of a PC.

    Windows will be a middle man, and ripe for cutting out.

  • Comment number 25.

    @ kryme76

    You are right, and you should look at the history of Netscape v Microsoft and the reason for which MS started to bundle IE into Windows. Precisely because Netscape was meant to make the user forget which OS the user was running provided that the user had a browser. This is why MS was condemned anti anti-trust laws for anti-competitive measures and this is why MS (regardless of feelings and pro/contra MS/OSX/Linux) is will eventually pass away: because the OS becomes irrelevant.

  • Comment number 26.

    To find out why Windows has 96% of the market, try asking the suits what happened to Snapdragon.

  • Comment number 27.

    "Bad distributions can't make for failure?
    Then was the failure of WindowsME just a dream?!"

    You do realise that Windows market share didn't suffer at all from Me, right? It was a rubbish OS but it still sold.

    "Well, it looked like Ubuntu would be the distro which could dominate and enter mainstream consciousness, but yes, a champion is required."

    And yet it hasn't. SUSE, Red Hat and others need to die first.

    "If the Aspire One wasn't shipped with that crippled Linpus distro it would've helped. I almost believe Microsoft paid them to ship that, to poison public perception."

    Which would be silly. It wouldn't have mattered what distro it shipped with, Linux has failed to capture the mainstream interest.

    Or do you believe Dell's Ubuntu equipped notebooks outsell their Windows counterparts?

    I like Ubuntu but the very fact that Linux has so many distributions is what makes it so appallingly unattractive as a mass market proposition.

  • Comment number 28.

    @27 Mark_MWFC

    "You do realise that Windows market share didn't suffer at all from Me, right? It was a rubbish OS but it still sold."

    Yep, true.
    It didn't exactly sell though, did it. It was foisted on people who didn't know better, who then complained loudly causing it to be withdrawn at the earliest opportunity.

    "SUSE, Red Hat and others need to die first."

    100% agree.

    "Which would be silly. It wouldn't have mattered what distro it shipped with, Linux has failed to capture the mainstream interest."

    The point I was trying to make is that it's first entry into the mainstream was marred by their choosing the worst of breed ambassador to represent Linux. First impressions last, and it was a tragedy.

    As for Dell, they could only sell to the converted.

    The Aspire was something people bought in Linux form without even realising. If they found Ubuntu it could well have been a pleasant enough experience to keep going with.
    As it was, Linpus scared them witless.

    I actually tried to keep going with it to get it doing something useful, but adding 'livna' (or whatever) to get repositories just so I could install VLC was a right pain. Hideous. Loathsome.

    "I like Ubuntu but the very fact that Linux has so many distributions is what makes it so appallingly unattractive as a mass market proposition."

    Yeah, as I said before it needs a strong brand to trust. Several dozen 'what the heck is that' brands is a burden not a choice, and means none get much of a reputation.

    I think we agree on the solution then... a good cull!
    (step in Google...)

  • Comment number 29.

    But, a company that keeps its lawn cut by bringing in 200 goats:
    http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/05/mowing-with-goats.html
    to save on carbon emissions can't be a run of the mill psycho-corp!

    -------

    Sure it can, many companies in manufacturing use natural processes to clean up their byproducts (reeds, rocks etc.) and are still abolutely ruthless capitalists. You will certainly find that the 200 goats were eithr cheaper than employing gardeners or done purely for the publicity stunt.

  • Comment number 30.

    Google is the Antichrist. Just trust me on this. You all think they are nice and lovely and user-friendly and "don't be evil", and then, bam, world domination in primary colours.

    You have been warned!

  • Comment number 31.

    Problem with Linux has always been the following - No easy user (non techie) self install and No clear and consistent and immediate hardware support. Developers need to get away from reacting to "cool" features and get on with the work of making an OS that is widely acceptible, do away with pointless complexity and make it available.

    They need to create a "USER" envirnment with a GUI that is inuitive to everyone from the age of 5 to 85, whether they are female or male, in whatever language they speak and whatever culture they come from.

    Now that design parameter is very hard for techies to understand.

    Whilst the techies just love to make techie environments, the acceptibility impedance will always be there and the world of mass-users will not adopt the technology.

  • Comment number 32.

    Total garbage@31 c0sm1c
    I'm a Linux geek, but my brother-in-law (non techie) recently installed the latest Ubuntu and he didn't phone for help once. A modern Linux distro comes with installer programs that make it just as easy/difficult to install as Windows with its installer programs. The Linux kernel is constantly being modified to provide support for new or unusual hardware. Have you forgotten how Vista struggled in this respect? Operating systems are complex! Not pointlessly so, but because they have complex tasks to fulfil. You can be just as complex with Windows, ask any Microsoft systems engineer. What's wrong with cool features, Linux advocates a user environment because it's more secure than an admin one, I could go on and on denying every one of your claims. You are peddling the same myths and lies about Linux that were popular 5 years ago. The Linux community has gone to great lengths in recent years to make itself more acceptable without compromising on its superior security, stability and freedom (as in speech). The Linux revolution is coming, they are winning the technical battle, just look at the Linux adoption on super-computers, servers (Google, Amazon, Dreamworks), embedded devices. All that remains is to win the marketing battle for desktops, laptops and netbooks. Firefox is destroying Internet Explorer's reputation and market share. Linux will do the same to Windows. Resistance is useless!

  • Comment number 33.

    Google has a reputation for usability?

    That's not exactly difficult for them, now is it? Their flagship project involves a small square box into which you type words, and then you click a button.

    Not really hard to get that wrong, to be honest.

    How about Android?

    Again, not hard to get a UI wrong. You label things with what they do and people push buttons.

    An OS, on the other hand, is a totally different animal. None of Google's experience in the search, browser, and mobile markets will help with an operating system. Not one iota.

    On the BBC article on this subject, I was disturbed at how woefully fanboyish it all came across as. "The Great Amazing Google Makes OS! Yay! Now If Apple Will Make My Kettle Prettier, I Can Die Happy!" was the feeling I got from it. The individuals interviewed were all on one side - squeeing with glee at how awesome Google are and how there's never been a challenge to Windows (even though there has been, but MS has been so anti-competitive as to make it impossible to make the real strong point of Windows possible in another OS: namely, DirectX).

    I was sorely disappointed with the quality of the article therefore.

    Not to mention that Google can't even get a browser right! Chrome has major design flaws which the fanboys generally claim as strengths. For example, this whole "one process, one tab" thing is ludicrously naive. To even suggest that your programming team is so amazingly forward-sighted as to be able to predict the future in this way is stupid. What do I mean?

    Here's a scenario for you. Google updates Chrome. Unfortunately, something unforeseen occurs. This is the norm when it comes to programming: you must foresee everything but cannot; hence software patches. The big shame here is, the unforeseen something causes a major memory leak.

    As Chrome gleefully chews on your memory, swallowing whole chunks of it with happy abandon, you, the end user, are completely unaware. So you do what you always do: open lots of tabs.

    Except the error causing the leak in the first place is now duplicated ten times, eating your available memory ten times as fast.

    Joy.

  • Comment number 34.

    This is only brief and somewhat naive, but kryme76, I found OpenOffice to be cumbersome and to not do what I wanted as well as MS Office. I did give OpenOffice a serious go, but the tried MS Office 2007 and relalised just how much more difficult it was with OpenOffice. I know this is just my personal view, but I found OpenOffice to be awkward and an eyesore (I'm not a fan of the 90's look (interface)).
    Are you sure that almost completely relying on the web is a good idea. The web is not always available and do you really want all your data to be in someoneelse's hands?
    Also, what exactly is the "Microsoft Tax"? Surely Microsoft are just charging for their product (like many businesses do, it's how capitalism works), will most Linux distributions are not. It's hardly a tax, as you don't have to pay it (by not using Microsoft products). I'd hardly call £60 much for what you get.

  • Comment number 35.

    @c0sm1c

    Wrong. The problem with Linux is the inability to play DirectX 9 games.

    Linux distros have had a clean, good GUI for many years now, even including features which have been around for some time in Linux and are STILL missing on Macs or Windows PCs - see GNOME and KDE for details.

  • Comment number 36.

    But, a company that keeps its lawn cut by bringing in 200 goats:
    http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/05/mowing-with-goats.html
    to save on carbon emissions can't be a run of the mill psycho-corp!

    ----

    Save on carbon emissions? Are you mad?

    You have to feed the goats. That means grain, in all likelihood. Grain requires oil, more oil in fact than any petrol lawnmower. So you run combine harvesters, planes for transporting the grain, lorries, trains, etc etc etc. Then you have to take into account that goats output methane...

    Sorry, but goats aren't eco-friendly.

  • Comment number 37.

    @Tams80

    Not sure what was difficult about OpenOffice for you? I would suggest (respectfully) that it was merely not what you were used to. I've used both MS Office and OpenOffice over the years, and both are roughly the same to my eyes. Some things work a little differently, but I wouldn't actually say either are necessarily superior.

    Then again, I don't really need bells & whistles with my documents... I'm happy with spreadsheet software that just works, have never needed to use MS Access (except at college, where I hated it for it's simplicity), and am in fact happier using EditPad than a fully-fledged WYSIWYG word processor.

  • Comment number 38.

    @RedLinuxHacker

    ...Firefox is indeed spreading like wildfire. My website strangely is used dominantly by Firefox users. I was sortof irked to realise that all my effort in trying to make sure it worked well with IE6 was apparently completely wasted!

  • Comment number 39.

    @kryme76

    Imagine being unable to do the most basic things because your ISP is upgrading their servers.

    Imagine being unable to access your files because they're stored remotely and your roommate accidentally cut your phone cable while doing the lawn around the outside of your house (this one happened to me).

    Imagine waiting for five minutes because a transatlantic cable is down and packet loss is high and your files are over there and you're here.

    Imagine having to pay every time you use an application instead of just buying a license and using it whenever you want.

    Imagine being unable to do anything because it's a Sunday, all the shops are closed, and your modem just died.

    Imagine living in the UK and being subjected to expensive asynchronous broadband and having to upload a large file to your repository and being unable to do anything else for four hours because your entire upstream network connection is utilized.

    Still hot on remote computing?

  • Comment number 40.

    @LesD123

    Protip: "release candidate" = "not final product"

    No sense complaining til it's finished.

  • Comment number 41.

    @ Auqakuh1123

    ... Imagine the strain on the internets already struggling infrastructure when every single document has to be download/uploaded.

  • Comment number 42.

    @Lem007

    A point there, although I'll also note that the "struggling" aspect is usually vastly overstated in the media. Fact is, the whole internet isn't struggling with infrastructure; single countries are, definitely, and many ISPs absolutely certainly are... with the former struggling because of poor policy decisions and the latter struggling because they do not pass enough of their income on to infrastructure enhancement.

    Neither really are due to the actual infrastructure of the internet itself however, and those issues that are "infrastructure" related are more to do with telecommunications networks than the internet itself.

    Perhaps a little off-topic there but I felt worth noting.

  • Comment number 43.

    Linux needs a brand, Linux is not a brand in itself. Ubuntu isnt it, its almost unheard of in the public domain and will stay that way. Google might well be it, but no one will care that its Linux or anything else.

    Im not going into the relative benefits and advantages of Linux, but what people want is a familiar, consistent experience that runs everything they want, or buy. Linux is not that, however you dress it up, however you say its improved and easier than ever, it simply isnt and never will be.

  • Comment number 44.

    To the comments about Microsoft Office and OpenOffice being "broadly the same" I say this; Put a standard office user in front of a computer running OpenOffice. By the end of the day they will have experienced file format issues, interface issues, FEATURE issues and will be crying out for Microsoft Office. I've been there, done that, bought the T shirt.

  • Comment number 45.

    I know of at least one major national company that uses Open Office for all it's internal stuff, and they are in retail, not exactly the most IT literate of environments. It's all down to what you're used to. A lot of people started on Windows, I know I did (after BBC micros,Atari St, Amiga and so on..).
    My computer dual-boots XP and Linux (PCLinuxOS). I only use XP for a few games.
    The install of linux on this box took 15 minutes, was entirely graphical, and needed me to put in the massive effort of clicking a few checkboxes... What a hassle that was.. NOT!
    At the end of all this "hard" work, I had a nice windowed environment, with OpenOffice pre-installed, my network connection going, and 20 seconds later, was catching up on the iPlayer.
    10 mins later, I had my twitter app running, and online chat, dual monitor display.

    And I earn my living as a truck driver. Linux isn't for the masses? HAH!

  • Comment number 46.

    @15
    "linux users are technical developers and often contribute to majpor software businesses in games or telecom (esp. mobile telephone) or critical industry control systems."
    Are they really?

    "Mac users are grapic designers, game designers, architects, musicians. These are people who influence things."
    Are you sure about that?

    "most windows users are in admin/secretarial or what we used to call paper pushers (oh for the mythical papersless office) and don';t count for much."
    So there are either techies or designers in the world and thats it is it?

    "This is why the opinions of both the liunux community and the apple lovers matter. why else do you think microsoft and google are scared or woo them (respectively)?"
    Really you actually think Linux users and Apple users are the leaders of global change?

    I can't believe someone actually thinks like the above.

    I am not a designer, I am not a telecoms person or developer, yet I have a PC that runs Linux and I have MAC, but and its a big BUT I have three other PC's runs windows and its those PC's I use the must. Everyone in my family has windows PC's everyone I know has windows PC's and the vast majority of them use IE, media player etc etc.
    Why do they do that and why do I coose not to use my MAC or Linux PC much. Simple fact is windows, as much some people hate it, does what does and it does it well.
    The other thing is that techies, geeks whatever you wish to call them live in a world where the newest thing is always the best thing, at no point do they actually consider just what a pain in rear end said new thing is to use unless you spend 10 years with your end buried in code or using similar poorly designed junk.
    Linux is big in the world of webservers and should be bigger in the other markets for OS's but as mentioned by so many it is teh techies/geeks etc that are actually stopping it from ever becoming a real success (they have a right though as its them that built the stuff for free in the first place) by having so many variants so many download options and using language that is totally alien to the normal PC user.
    Prime example: What the hell is a kernal? do 90% of the worlds computer users need to be confronted with that word at at any point in there lives. No.
    Why can't the linux community if there actually is just one, just get together have a fight, throw keyboards at one another and then come to an agreement to develope one PC / MAC OS and one webserver and just do it in a way that the non-techy geek type can actually understand.

    Ultimatley all the vast majority of teh world wants is something that just works, looks nice and doesn't involve spending anymore time than is absolutely neccesary installing and using. After all the computer is a tool just like a hammer or screwdriver, people don't go into B&Q have to pick a handle, a type grip, a spline, a nail, what finish they want, what heat treatment they want, etc etc etc they just get a chioce of pre-made hammers and get one and hit stuff with it.

    Anyway good luck to google, I just hope that chrome does log everything I do then send it to google so they can target advertise to me lots of stuff I don't want.

  • Comment number 47.

    giantBikerider

    Are you serious? Why can't the Linux community just develop one distribution? Linux is fundamentally - and I can't stress this point enough, about letting the user do what they want to do, not what someone else thinks is best. That's what separates it from Windows and OS X. It is its raison d'etre. The Linux community would love others to embrace this concept and is perfectly prepared to continue to make it easier to switch and easier for the computer illiterate to understand to do so but asking them to surrender that fundamental concept is simply not tenable. Besides, the problem you described is not actually the problem. It is perfectly possible to have a well-recognised and well-supported distribution whilst maintaining the freedom to have other distributions, desktop environments, file managers etc. Ubuntu probably, whilst the more advanced users continue to embrace the freedom Linux provides.

  • Comment number 48.

    Google's reputation alone will get this thing popularity at launch. Avarage consumers in the shops, looking for a computer just for internet, will look at the Chrome OS just because of the Google brand.

    Weather or not it will be successful in the long term, though, depends on how good it actually is.

  • Comment number 49.

    @15
    "most windows users are in admin/secretarial or what we used to call paper pushers (oh for the mythical papersless office) and don't count for much."

    How unbelievably arrogant and it is this approach to IT that unfortunately distances it from the real world.

    I have developed a large number of applications in a windows environment using IIS. I am neither admin nor secretarial but choose to use windows and the .NET framework for the ease of buying in new developers should I need to. I don't have a strong allegiance to any technology or platform beyond that. I have built applications in the past using classic asp, php, perl, and coldfusion to number a few; I have used apache and iis, I have written to mySQL and MS SQL. All equally valid, all successful projects.

    Your bizarre assertion that windows is for admin shows a great lack of awareness in the market. A quick look at ITJobsWatch http://www.itjobswatch.co.uk/jobs/uk/developer.do shows that operating systems cited for developer jobs are pretty evenly split between windows (10.55%) and unix (9.21%); and on platforms - apache (3.89%) and iis (2.69%).

    I hope google does well with this - we should all welcome choices. Hopefully at some point as a technical community trying to build systems for people to use we could stop being quite so parochial and give up labelling things so quite so broadly.

  • Comment number 50.

    @36 - errr, they eat the grass...

  • Comment number 51.

    @39 Auqakuh1123

    Please look at the Google native client stuff, then read a bit about browser caching, then right click any image on this page and notice that you can save it locally if you so wish.

  • Comment number 52.

    @44 mitachu

    And to those who make a big deal about transition from Office to Open Office, shall we have a discussion about differences between Office97->2003 or 2003->2007?

  • Comment number 53.

    @52 - indeed, Office 2007 is horrible to use and even the IT dept. couldn't figure it out after having years of experience with Office 2003.

  • Comment number 54.

    Eureka!

    It wasn't Microsoft stopping my KVM switch working it was nVidia!

    The nVidia 190.38 Beta Driver release has fixed the problem I had with my Aten CS52D KVM Switch crashing Windows 7 each and every time the focus of this KVM switch was moved away from Windows 7.

    I have installed the 190.38 beta release in both the 32 bit and 64 bit Windows 7 RC OS's and everything is rock solid and stable when the KVM switch is operated in both versions.

    The Betas took a bit of finding so for anyone else that might fancy trying them here are the links:

    http://www.nvidia.com/object/win7_winvista_32bit_190.38_beta.html

    http://www.nvidia.com/object/win7_winvista_64bit_190.38_beta.html

 

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