The Google Chrome-Plated Operating System
This summer, Google announced that it will be extending the capabilities of the Chrome web browser to incorporate many of the functions of an operating system (OS). While the announcement generated a great deal of chatter, the new OS will only be focused on the netbook market and will not be available for close to a year. However, the noise made many wonder what the big deal was. Linux has worked for years to compete with Microsoft’s “monopoly.” People wondered if Chrome would find it as difficult as Linux has to break into the desktop market that Microsoft essentially owns.
To become a successful operating system, Chrome will need much more than just these features. It will need to provide multitasking, networking, printing, video, memory management and many other options common to an OS. Chrome uses the basic facilities of the Linux kernel to provide these operating system-specific tasks rather than building them from scratch.
It will be unclear for some time if Google’s Chrome strategy will ultimately be effective. What is clear is that the idea of a simple operating system tailored to provide fast web browsing and other related features that use a limited amount of memory and other resources is making people talk. This niche approach to an operating system is in stark contrast to the something-for-everybody style of Microsoft Windows.
It is possible that a simpler OS will play well with netbooks, but only time will tell if the consumer is ready for an operating system that leaves their old applications behind.