18 months ago after one crash too many I switched from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer to Google Chrome the difference in speed and efficiency was amazing. Since then millions of other users have done the same with IE usage crashing from over 84% to less than 45%.
Now Google is set to take on Microsoft on the desktop with Chrome OS, which is an OS initially designed for notebooks and netbooks. Not available till mid 2011. Users will find the experience radically different from what they have experienced with their Windows OS as there are no apps on the desktop, instead users pull their apps down from the cloud when they need them and when they are finished, file their work in the cloud so that it’s available from any PC, tablet, Smartphone or notebook on the Internet.
The idea behind the Chromium OS is that it will coordinate with cloud services, especially Google’s, to minimise the amount of local storage required and to allow people to use any Chromium device to access the same cloud-saved data and synchronise locally-stored data to the cloud.
The big question is whether Chrome OS will challenge Windows on low-end machines, particularly netbooks. But with the netbook market shrinking as buyers shift towards tablets, there are questions too about whether Chrome OS is too little, too late: Android is doing remarkably well on mobile phones and tablets, while Microsoft has managed to persuade netbook makers to use a low-end version of Windows 7.
“We think cloud computing will define computing as we know it,” said Eric Schmidt, Google’s chief operating officer, at the announcement – which falls notably short of a launch. “Finally there is a viable third choice for an operating system.”
Chrome OS is a Linux-based OS, so Linux fans might have cause to like it – the way that Google took Android, another Linux build, from zero to hero in the Smartphone market.
Sundar Pichai, Google’s head of product for Chrome, said that “This is a profound shift” and that Chrome is an attempt to “re-think the personal experience for the modern web”. He told the BBC: “Chrome is nothing but the web.”