With the advent of Windows 7, many users have been scrambling to compare the OS to Apple’s leading product, OS X Snow Leopard. However, in the midst of the competition concerning the two products, Google’s new Chrome OS has been relatively ignored. Even so, this new player in the market may very well follow the same path as the netbook itself, the platform that Google is aiming for with the Chrome OS, set to be finished and released in the second half of 2010.
So, in the wake of the battle between Apple and Microsoft, what exactly is Google’s Chrome OS? It’s a new, lightweight, open source OS produced by Google which is almost entirely dependent on the cloud, to the point where the entire OS is composed of almost nothing but the Chrome browser. Instead of attempting to produce a fully fledged OS (operating system), Google and the free software community are working to produce an OS that focuses on being as lightweight as possible, yet can handle all of the basic needs of the average user, relying on the growing success of web applications such as Google Apps, YouTube, Facebook, Gmail, and much more.
It’s already been shown that convenience, simplicity, and instant access can easily trump alternatives in the computer industry, demonstrated by the striking popularity of the smartphone, netbook, Craigslist, and similar products. This is where Chrome OS shines and where Windows 7 and Snow Leopard do not: providing a cheap, small, fast alternative to Windows 7 and Snow Leopard, potentially even overcoming the two with an always-on, lasting, secure, and cheap computer that is more than capable of handling quick computer tasks.
Why wait for your MacBook or laptop to boot up and finish loading when you can press a button on your netbook and be almost instantly greeted with a login screen, or, depending on your security settings, a browser? Although you may not be able to play Crysis or run Visual Studio, the average user tends to access social networking or business applications far more often and for shorter periods of time than the previous two. And the user did meet a need to access such applications, then they can turn to their occasionally more powerful alternative to satisfy that need.
With this in mind, that’s also another one of the powerful benefits of the OS: it’s not meant to become your primary PC, similar to a smartphone. For those of you that own a device such as the iPhone, Droid, or the Palm Pre, how many times have you decided to simply reach for your phone to update your Twitter status or your MySpace/Facebook instead of getting up and walking over to your computer? What if you also had a device with the same ease of access that could also edit photos, produce videos, manage passwords, access the Bittorrent network, provide a complete office suite, transfer large files, convert files, or do just about anything else?
Google Chrome OS may finally provide something similar to a smartphone 2.0, a more powerful and feature complete sister product that is just a little larger in size. Just as the iPhone completely redefined the market, Google’s Chrome OS may turn out to achieve a similar milestone in the personal computer industry. Not only that, but if the OS is popular among the general population, then it will only help to strengthen Google’s status as a major player in the market, all the way from a basic search engine to a powerful threat to Microsoft and its Windows products, while also helping to spread the success and familiarity of the Linux kernel that the Google Chrome OS is based on.