Google recently announced their intentions for launching Google Chrome OS (Operating System). According to their blog release, the Google Chrome Operating System will first be targetted at Netbook users. Google plans to release their code to Open Source later this year, and make it available commericially in 2010.
On their official blog, Google asks for help from the open source community to accomplish their vision for a lightweight and easy to use Operating System that does not ‘get in the way’ of users.
Pundits will debate the significance of this ambitious release and its timing to coincide with Microsoft’s new Windows 7 OS. As the established Search Engine leader, Google in recent years has competed for the desktop user on many other fronts.
Google Talk was released in 2005 as an instant messenger client and was tightly integrated with their email service GMail. According to Comscore reports, Google Talk is still in distant 4th place behind MSN Messenger, Yahoo, and AOL-AIM.
Their Gmail service, although widely regarded as a superior online email tool, is in 3rd place in usage behind Microsoft’s Hotmail, and Yahoo Mail.
Google’s internet browser, Google Chrome, sits in 4th place with a meager 1.8% market share behind the venerable Microsoft Internet Explorer (65%), Firefox (22%), and Apple’s Safari (8%). Browser Statistics Source
Google Chrome OS – Starting on the right foot?
What we do know about the Chrome OS is that it will be based on the Linux Kernel, and that the user interface will be minimal, coinciding with the Google Chrome Browser. Google will be working with many OEM’s to integrate their netbooks with the new OS.
Google vs. Microsoft or vs. the Linux Community?
Most of the media have concentrated on the impact Google Chrome OS may have on the ever-present Microsoft Windows. Depending on deals made between Google and major PC manufacturers, we may see new laptops in 2010 being offered with Chrome OS pre-installed instead of Windows.
In a down economy, users may be looking for ways to save money and the Google OS, to be offered free, will ostensibly save on the licensing costs for Windows. However, as the numbers above indicate, Google does not have a great track record in wooing mass-market PC users to their non-search engine products.
I think that in the months after the first release of Chrome OS, the first users most likely to give it a try will come from the Linux community. Microsoft is still very entrenched as the default OS. As far as the Linux community is concerned, even with the plethora of new versions and flavors of Linux being released on a monthly-basis, the competition has served to fortify the community as a whole.
Google’s Chrome OS may finally bring Linux to the forefront as a mainstream viable alternative to Microsoft. It may not cut away at Microsoft’s stranglehold, but the Linux community will thrive. If that happens, the biggest winners in this effort will be Linux users.