Ok: I know everyone and their former college roommate has written something about this already, so while I can’t totally invalidate the “sheep” label, I will try to live up to my internship’s philosophy of being a “purple sheep” in this short entry about Google’s announcement of its upcoming Chrome OS.
Which, by the way, I think is AWESOME.
A few interesting items I wanted to note about this announcement:
Built on the Linux kernel. This was, to me, the most exciting part of the announcement. One of the reasons I love OS X so much is that its core is a Mach/BSD kernel, affording so much of the *nix functionality I love. The Linux kernel is an outstanding bit of open source magic, so it’s great to see Google living up to its reputation as a corporate champion of open source software.
New windowing engine. This bit of news was interesting; I still haven’t formed an opinion on it, plus it’s not entirely clear what the scope of this claim means. If this means Google is replacing the antiquated-though-remarkably-stable X11 windowing system present on all Linux distros today, then I would tentatively call that a good thing, banking on Google’s reputation of releasing really spiffy software to assume that the new windowing system will, too, be awfully spiffy. I’m fine with X11, but from what I understand, it’s an obfuscated and trecherous road for developers to navigate.
Open source. This goes somewhat hand-in-hand with being built on the Linux kernel, but then again OS X made use of the BSD kernel and it’s certainly not open source. It’s thrilling beyond words to see a $125 billion/year corporation drive open source innovation by releasing what will most likely be a kickass operating system, and on top of that, one which will be open source.
Built on the Chrome browser. Again, this is open to interpretation, but considering Google exists almost exclusively in the ethereal mist of the intertubes, it’s logical to assume (and has long been postulated) that Google’s operating system will probably feature the latest and greatest degree of internet-desktop integration to date. As such, Chrome (which, by the way, is an excellent alternative to Firefox or Opera) will likely be enhanced to serve as a veritable portal through which the users of the operating system interact with…just about everything.
Targeted at netbooks. Building on the previous point, it makes sense to target netbooks, as they are essentially glorified mobile devices with full screens and keyboards. Hence, an operating system that blurs the line between internet and desktop would fit very neatly on a netbook. However, my suspicion is that Google won’t limit themselves here – when they do release their OS, they’ll have a version for desktops, too.
Microsoft: “Oh shit.” It isn’t said explicitly in the Google blog, but all the news sites and bloggers and people the internets over know: where Google and Microsoft have been major competitors before, this is Google’s most direct assault against Microsoft’s marketshare majority, bar none. And while Google mentions their goal for the OS is “speed, simplicity, and security”, it’s hard not to concatenate the requisite “of which Windows has none.” Which, of course, is a matter of opinion, but why mention it explicitly otherwise, unless those items have proven troublesome in the past? Get ready, Microsoft: Google has set its n00b cannon crosshair squarely on your OS.
The OS won’t be available on OEM machines until mid-2010, but the source code will be released later this year. I don’t know about everyone else, but I for one welcome our Googlian overlords.