Google's "Chrome OS" - a Windows beater?

After launching its own web browser, Google has announced a late 2010 release date for Chrome OS, the search engine giant's first operating system for PCs.  Targeted at netbooks, but potentially scalable up to desktop PCs, Chrome OS is the latest counter-Microsoft software unveiled by Google.

So with Microsoft's upcoming Windows 7 already getting solid and largely positive coverage for its ability to perform of netbooks, notebooks, and desktops alike, would you be tempted to leave the Windows family (or even Mac OS X and Linux), and give Chrome OS a go next year?

Also, has Google's removal of the Beta tag from many of its Cloud-based apps, are you tempted to migrate from Microsoft Office to Google Docs? Outlook to Gmail?

Best,

Jon

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Jon Wilcox
Technology correspondent
 

Comments
John Stokdyk's picture

The big showdown starts here

John Stokdyk | | Permalink

This fight is developing into an epic struggle out of one of the Godzilla movies - with Microsoft as the reigning giant of software reptiles. Since Jon's original post here, Microsoft announcement of the Office 2010 Web Applications has hit back at Google's attempts to muscle into the desktop arena.

We're looking at an industry in a real state of flux and after the long, long debates about software as a service, The Cloud is finally beginning to make an impact.

In our Laptop Discussion Group, Nigel Harris and other users explained how they use small, cheap netbooks to back up and access files using Google Docs. "Makes me wonder why people even bother with MS Office and the costs it involves," commented one AccountingWEB.co.uk member.

With such a huge installed base, it's natural for Microsoft to move a little more slowly. And so, I suspect, will many users who are familiar with Word, Excel and PowerPoint. The Office Web Applications could shore up its hold on personal productivity applications - but at what cost to its healthy profit margins for Office?

As far as functionality goes, the IT Zone team plans to spend the rest of 2009 getting to grips with the new facilities in Microsoft Office Live to see how they compare with our Google Docs experiments. But that will only tell us one side of the story.

The Mac has failed to make a dent within accountancy (Nigel's Mac diary notwithstanding) and so far Linux has been a non-starter. Has Windows Vista brought you to the point where you might seriously consider an alternative operating system for your business? And if so, how likely would you be to pursue Google ChromeOS?

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John Stokdyk, Technology editor

"Linux a non-starter" surely "not started yet"

Gentoo | | Permalink

Somewhere else, one vendor (essentially selling support as the software is all FOC) pointed out that the sum of their marketing budget together with that of their two competitors would appear as a rounding error in Microsoft's marketing budget.

But your comment about Google Chrome is interesting for all that it doesn't reveal.

Chrome will be based on GNU/Linux. Chrome would not be possible were it not building on the efforts of the three companies mentioned above.

Oh, yes: Chrome will be FOC too.

One day, perhaps not any day soon, there will be accountants cutting their cost base* (directly and indirectly) by using FOSS and older hardware, and will be able to reduce their fees to clients. And then _you_ will have a problem.

Gerry

*They might even be doing a little funding of FOSS development.

Why doesn't anyone use Linux with a virtual machine for their wi

chatman | | Permalink

That's what the Maccies seem to do.

cverrier's picture

Linux

cverrier | | Permalink

As has been said - Chrome appears to be a 'Linux Lite' - with a focus on moving as much as possible of the heavy-lifting into 'The Cloud'.

It could do well in a certain space, but it's not really a competitor to Microsoft (or Apple) except at the very edges (netbooks, etc). All the guff about Google 'taking on' Microsoft with a new Operating System is just the media doing its usual skin-deep look at a topic and then adding plenty of dramatic phrasing.

Chrome is going to work best where it's very 'lightness' is a benefit - extremely cheap low-power devices with no processing power to speak of acting as a 'dumb terminal' to web-based applications (assuming you have a good quality wi-fi or 3G connection). I suspect Chrome will be less impressive on a desktop PC or, indeed, when your 3G data connection suddenly drops to zero (as it does annoyingly often on my commute from Maidenhead to Paddington - hardly the sticks).

As to the other question - why not use Windows in a VM on top of Linux - the question shouldn't be 'Why Not?' it should be 'Why?'. Why run TWO operating systems on a computer when you only need one? If Chrome's real value is it's web based apps, then those same web-apps will also run in a browser in Windows. Also - you may have a machine with an FOC Linux operating system and free copy of OpenOffice, but if you want to run Windows in a VM - YOU STILL HAVE TO PAY FOR YOUR COPY OF WINDOWS.

If you still have to spend decent cash for a 'proper' laptop because it turns out that not everything you need is in the cloud yet (Accounts Prep, Audit Working Papers, a CorpTax product - you know, THAT stuff) then you'll end up in the worst of both worlds.

I'm all for SaaS - I use SaaS applications where I can, and I badger friends in the software industry to get into the game, but we're all running businesses, not science experiments. Make your business case first, and don't forget that support and training costs far outweigh the up-front price tag.

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