Google Chrome OS

Google has announced the Chrome OS.

There’s been speculation for years about Google introducing an OS, but somehow the actual announcement seems anti-climatic. Maybe it’s because of the existing prevalence of Netbooks running Linux. It makes me wonder what Google stands to gain by doing this.

This is a scenario that Microsoft has been working hard to prevent, and has apparently failed at. A laptop that runs Chrome (and has the Flash player) is all most people need in a computer. Flash covers the games and rich multimedia, Chrome with JavaScript and HTML5 cover the applications, and what else is there? For most users, that’s it.

Google’s timing on this is bizarre. Second half of 2010? What’s the point of pre-announcing something that’s over a year away? This is also somewhat out of character for Google, who, like Apple, traditionally don’t announce things until they’re ready to use. They’re doing the same thing with Google Wave, and it’s strange there too.

Another interesting aspect is that this isn’t based on Android. Logically, I think it should be. Is there something about Android that makes it unsuitable for a desktop OS? They’re both based on Linux, and I don’t see why they can’t both be distributions of the same core. Two teams that are doing basically the same thing in parallel isn’t a good way to run a business, especially a big one like an OS business.

This is a good move for the industry even if I don’t think it’s a great move for Google. The resurgence of the Mac platform (including the iPhone), and Netbooks, have given the computing world a future that doesn’t depend on Windows. Over 10% of traffic on the web is now not Windows based – still a small number, but a growing one. Windows 7 is a great OS, but now it has to compete on its merits, and not on the inability for its users to choose an alternative.