We’ve commented on this before at Nerdlets, but now there is a definitive reason for doing so. It’s not really a surprise, but Google is about to tie all its seemingly disparate services together. Introducing the Google Operating System. Why a new operating system? Well, we use our computers differently now. We use them to access the web. Your browser, by and large, is your OS (at least according to Google), which is why Google has recently invested so much time into their entry into the browser wars: Google Chrome.
And the Google OS is actually the Google Chrome OS. According to Google, it is little more than a (Linux!) wrapper around Google’s browser. There is therefore no need to download, install, or develop applications. According to the official Google Blog post:
For application developers, the web is the platform. All web-based applications will automatically work and new applications can be written using your favorite web technologies. And of course, these apps will run not only on Google Chrome OS, but on any standards-based browser on Windows, Mac and Linux thereby giving developers the largest user base of any platform.
There are advantages to this approach. Developers can spend their time programming applications that work on any Computer, and because users do not have to install, update, tweak, or otherwise fuss with their applications, developers can pump out updates quickly and efficiently. Furthermore, provided your browser is secure, you need not worry too much about viruses and malware, or at least not yet. And, of course, since all your data is on the web, you can access your files anywhere! Finally, since Google promises that it’s vision will remain Open Source focused, you (presumably) will not need to worry about Google hijacking your data. If Google does something you don’t like, you can just switch.
There are serious disadvantages as well. Your data is on a server somewhere, and not on your computer. There is also a certain amount of loss of control.
Windows, Linux, and OSX take a hybrid approach to the OS and browser relationship, and I prefer that personally. With the mainstream operating systems your data resides primarily on your computer, but is synced to the web at your request. This is what I practice, since I don’t always have an Internet connection.
So what do you fine folks think? Is the future of computing web-based services running in your browser, or is it something more like what we’re doing now? Your comments are welcome!
Update: Some excellent analysis by Louis Gray.