Chrome OS draws near. Last night brought perhaps the more surefire sign yet: Google is openly talking to The New York Times about it. Perhaps that is in response to rumors that it was being delayed into next year. While details are still scant, NYT reports that before the end of the year, Google will release a lightweight netbook running Chrome OS. It will likely be branded as a Google product, but built by a third-party, similar to what the search giant did with their Nexus One phone, says the report.
This is in line with what we’ve heard and were told recently. While a full-scale roll out of Chrome OS has likely been pushed into 2011, Google is still saying that they will release something before the end of the year. Based on messages in the open source Chromium forums, it would seem that this will be a beta version of the OS. One that yes, will be running on their own device that they’re currently dogfood testing (testing within the company).
But what may be most interesting in the NYT report is what Linus Upson, Google’s Vice President of Engineering in charge of Chrome, had to say about the new OS:
But Mr. Upson said that Chrome OS would be a computing platform stretching to hand-held devices, tablets and TVs. “We are starting with laptops and we will expand in both directions,” he said.
This seems opposed to what Google CEO Eric Schmidt said last week at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. When he was asked if Chrome OS and Android would compete with one another, he said that they current felt that Android was better geared towards touch surfaces, while Chrome OS was better for devices with keyboards.
Obviously, Android is currently Google’s OS for handheld devices, tablets, and TVs (it is what Google TV runs on top of). Upson’s comments suggest that the Chrome OS will eventually go head to head with Android in those areas. Further, mock-ups done on the Chromium website show Google’s current line of thinking for how the new OS could work on such devices.
And while Google says there is no conflict between the two teams building each product, it’s clearly a bit of a confusing situation for both consumers and for Google executives as well.
When Google co-founder Sergey Brin was asked about the co-existence of the two earlier this year, he stated another belief: that the two would eventually merge. Essentially, the line of thinking seems to be that apps are needed right now as pure web technologies like HTML5 aren’t quite where they need to be yet. As those technologies mature, it would seem as if the idea behind Chrome OS is more in line with Google’s mission than Android is. That is, all you need is the web.
This mentality comes across in Upson’s comments as well. “When people look at Chrome OS, they’re going to be like, ‘It’s just a browser, there’s nothing exciting here.’ Exactly. It’s just a browser, there’s nothing exciting here — that’s the point,” he told the NYT.
He goes on to say that 60 percent of businesses could immediately replace their Windows machines with Chrome OS machines. Yes, 60 percent!
He also apparently said that he hopes the new OS will put corporate sys admins out of their jobs because everything will just be updated automatically over the web. Something tells me Google may be wishing he phrased that differently.
Chrome OS: one giant pink slip for sys admins.
Obviously, Upson’s comments are likely an overly optimistic view of what could go down when Chrome OS is released. But I, for one, am extremely excited for it. I would estimate that 95 percent of everything I do on a computer in a given day is now in a web browser. And several of the things in the other 5 percent — like taking notes — I could do in the browser, I just don’t for whatever reason.
Media management remains a big issue, but Google is working on taking that online as well. (Though it may not be going so well.)
Anyway, my point is that I’m essentially already using Chrome OS, it just happens to reside inside of OS X right now. If Google can cut out that middle man in the name of making an even faster and more seamless computing experience, I’m in.