Today's feeds included this post on ChromeOS by Cringely.
Last week Google made a preemptive strike against Microsoft, revealing
details of its Chrome OS months before that product reaches its
near-infinite beta release. The idea is simple: who needs a big OS if you
are doing everything in a browser? It’s a huge threat to Microsoft and
Apple. But then it struck me I’ve heard this all before, so I went back
and found this video clip from my show Triumph of the Nerds, circa 1996,
where Larry Ellison predicts the future, not knowing he was actually
It struck me that I've seen it before, too: Sun's Display
language to program in than Postscript, and that Chrome has some solid
security behind it. We've learned a lot in the last two decades:
programming side of a user interface, and HTML 5 plus SVG on the front end
are more than good enough to replace a 2-d graphics toolkit like GTK. So
Sun also invented the catch-phrase "the network is the computer", and NFS
(which stands for Network File System, in case you've forgotten).
Cringe ends with:
We know that under the Chrome OS Google Apps will be very secure. Any
tampering will trigger the download of a new and pure OS image. But will
the Chrome OS have enough performance to compete with Microsoft Office? I
think it eventually will, based, for example, on extensions like Google’s
recently announced O3D API, which will allow Google Apps and approved
third-party apps to grab spare GPU cycles to improve performance.
What’s left to be seen here is whether these improvements will be enough
to beat Office or if Google will have to make a standalone (local
PC-based) version of these apps. Only time will tell.
The most interesting part for me will be Microsoft’s response. This
strikes at the very heart of Redmond’s business success and Microsoft will
not take it lying down. Expect thermonuclear warfare.
What he seems to be forgetting is that it's going to be a three-front war.
Down underneath ChromeOS, Android, Maemo, Moblin, and the Ubuntu Netbook
Remix -- all of which are designed for mobile devices and thin clients --
is a perfectly functional Linux kernel. Mass storage is still dirt-cheap,
and even after we get fiber to the home a suitcase full of hard drives
will have more bandwidth than a pipeline to the cloud.
And a net app doesn't much care whether the back-end server it's talking
to is in the next room or the next state, but you'll notice the
performance difference. Heck, I notice the performance difference in my
favorite audio editor between a local SATA drive and the same drive over
Yeah, you'll back up to the cloud, use it for communication and sharing,
and use it for deploying massive multi-user web applications. But all
your applications will be running their front ends locally on Linux, so
they can sneak behind the web to the local filesystem, and sneak behind
the browser to X and the GPU, when you need performance. Your photos and
music and video may be synchronized to a big server in the sky, but
they'll all be in the fileserver in the closet, too. And some things
won't get synced; the reasons are left as an exercise for the reader.
No matter what the (other) pundits are trying to claim, a URL is still a
(virtual) pathname, a website is still a hierarchical filesystem (which
you can of course mount with WebDAV), and the hierarchy of INTERconnected
NETworks doesn't stop at your DSL modem or even at the ethernet port on
the back of your PC. PCI is a network, too.
ChromeOS may take down Microsoft, and the Google Store may become a strong
competitor for Apple. But is it the end of operating systems as we know
them? I doubt it. Will you get all your applications from the Google
Store? Probably not, any more than you'll get all your music from iTunes
and all your books from Amazon. You'll hit some indy website, download
to your local server, and away you go.