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Google Chrome OS and the 'Web of Tomorrow'


IT ALL STARTED WITH A SEARCH ENGINE. Back in the days, Google Search has taken over the web by its simplicity, light-weight, and precision of returned results.


Then Google slowly expanded into GMail, Calendar, Google Docs, etc.. in an attempt to replace desktop office with web-based alternatives. More features were being added constantly, making their apps more and more attractive to average users.


Then there was 'Google Maps' and 'Google Earth', usefulness and simplicity of which introduced lots of exciting new possibilities. Now Google Maps is easily supported by mobile devices, such as iPhone.


Shortly after iPhone debut, Google released its own version of a mobile OS, called Android, installed on a 'G1 Phone', which arguably claims 'top 3' spot in mobile devices.



Not to stop there, Google Chrome, being a direct competitor to most popular web browsers, is climbing its way up. Its main selling point is stability, gained by creating a separate process for each 'browsing tab'. This feature is quite useful for frequent web surfers, especially those who like Rich Internet Apps (RIA), due to RIA frequent instability and often experimental functionality.


Interestingly enough, now Google is slowly entering into OS competition. Acer has announced plans to ship first dual-boot Windows/Android netbooks by 2009 Q3. HP is already testing Android on their hardware.


Now Google is going even further to announce Google Chrome OS. According to the blog, Chrome OS will run a new windowing system on top of Linux kernel. As a web developer, I find following excerpt particularly interesting:

For application developers, the web is the platform. All web-based applications will automatically work and new applications can be written using your favorite web technologies. And of course, these apps will run not only on Google Chrome OS, but on any standards-based browser on Windows, Mac and Linux thereby giving developers the largest user base of any platform.


Seems like Google has been planning this all along. They already have support for Gadgets, Google Desktop, Google Gears, and a growing Gadget library. It is interesting how Google is finding a viable business model where giants like Apple and Microsoft have been dominating for years. I think Google's success so far is mostly attributed to 'riding web evolution wave', which is quickly capturing minds of web users and developers alike all around the globe.

A word about Google Gears. It lets web apps interact naturally with desktop, store data locally in a full-search database, and have asynchronous JavaScript processes running in background. This is pretty much what an average desktop application needs to function. Gears is merging boundaries between web and desktop, again towards 'web is the platform'.



Now, a word about web development. As a developer, Google has helped me in a number of ways. GWT took away cross-browser pains. Google Code gave free source code hosting to software projects. Now Google App Engine (GAE) is being offered as a platform for running web applications.

Given all these technologies, it is my opinion that Google simplifies web development and opens up doors to new frontiers which, before, were only imaginable. Given this 'simplicity', more developers are willing to adopt 'Google technology stack', thus, 'collectively' creating software to power the 'Web of Tomorrow'.

On a side note, a college buddy of mine used to work for Google in NYC office. He invited me once for a short tour. I really liked the atmosphere, as it was relaxed and focused. Using StarTrek analogy, it felt like being in the 'Engine Room'!

Thank you for reading and Aloha!


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Comment by Konstantin A Lukin on July 24, 2009 at 4:59pm
One more interesting thing to note. Chrome OS is being installed on netbooks, or kinds of computers designed to surf the net.. These machines are usually cheaper than laptop/desktop alternatives -> hence more accessible. A really big fraction of computer users are only interested in basic services, such as Internet browsing, Email, Office. Others who like photo/video/music playback/editing capabilities tend to lean toward Mac OS due to Linux-based stability and attractiveness of UI. Software developers have also started Mac OS migration mainly due to usability of Linux OS features. In my mind, if Microsoft does not change their strategy quickly, they'll be running a legacy software firm in no time. Bing is not really a solution for them either, due to general lack of web-based products to support it. Users are no longer impressed by a good search, but would rather have comprehensive easy-to-access solutions at their fingertips.
Comment by Konstantin A Lukin on July 24, 2009 at 4:18pm
Interestingly enough, there is only so much Microsoft can do at this point.. IMHO, Windows is mostly used not because everybody likes it so much, but due to lack of alternatives. If/when other 'viable' alternatives do show up, and this looks like one of them, my guess is that users will start jumping Microsoft ship pretty quickly. After all, Google Apps is free, MS Office is not. Google provides a well-documented API for most of their available public services. Google Apps runs on any platform, regardless of architecture.

I think it is just a matter of time till 'web is the platform' approach is widely accepted. When this happens, Linux-based terminals would have a clear advantage.
Comment by Patrick Ahler on July 17, 2009 at 6:45am
I doubt it's a bluff... Google seems to enjoy entering markets slowly and letting their products grow naturally and by word of mouth. Their focus seems to be product quality and innovation with less of a requirement on release dates or meeting short term market demand. All this will serve Google well and Microsoft should take notice regardless of this is a bluff or not.
Comment by Konstantin A Lukin on July 10, 2009 at 10:56am
Regarding Chrome OS being a bluff or not, I'd like to stick with 'believe it when I see it approach', as companies do use tactics to intimidate their opponents. On the other hand, having Chrome OS actually makes a lot of sense for Google, since most of their apps are web oriented. If Google can get access to OS and browser space, it opens up a lot of interesting possibilities for them, especially if pursuing 'web is the platform' approach.
Comment by Brent on July 10, 2009 at 9:53am
Interesting article:

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/is-googles-new-os-more-than-just-a-bluff

Claims that Chrome might be something of a bluff. A warning shot across Microsofts bow for releasing Bing.

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