21 Comments

Summary:

Google CEO Eric Schmidt, speaking in Abu Dhabi this week, confirmed that the Chrome OS operating system is on track for the second half of this year. There are new reasons why its brightest future may be as an adjunct OS on netbooks and tablets.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt, speaking at a conference in Abu Dhabi this week, confirmed that the Chrome OS operating system is on track for delivery in the second half of this year. While we already know that it’s headed for netbooks, there are new reasons to believe that its brightest future may be as an adjunct OS on netbooks and tablets.

Google is taking several big gambles with its upcoming OS, not the least of which is that it will require users to work with all data in the cloud. That will rule out countless applications and utilities that are, in some cases, beloved to users, and there is a good chance that Google’s cloud-only gamble could backfire.

But what if Google adopts an “if you can’t beat them, join them” strategy with its Linux-based operating system, and oversees its shipment on netbooks and tablet devices alongside other OSes? If the idea sounds far-fetched, check out the video below from Mobile World Congress, in which Freescale shows a $199 tablet computer concept that runs Chromium OS (the open-source core of Chrome OS), Linux and Android.

http://www.youtube.com/v/Yr5cGR-uSv4&hl=en_US&fs=1&

If you think about it, a tablet or netbook running the cloud-focused Chrome OS alongside one that caters to local applications could offer a lot of flexibility. And Freescale’s demo shows that very low price points could be achievable for these types of devices.

Linux-based operating systems are already used on many devices in conjunction with OSes such as Microsoft Windows, sometimes through virtualization, and sometimes via lightweight Linux-based platforms such as Splashtop. There are also brand-new operating systems that are designed from the ground up to run alongside other ones, such as Jolicloud.

Google has already witnessed its Android mobile OS being forked into numerous new incarnations, and seen it running as a secondary operating system on some devices. The company has undoubtedly envisioned scenarios in which Chrome OS accompanies other platforms. Remember that in the operating system business, you don’t have to be the top dog to succeed — just ask Apple.

In the end, it won’t even matter whether Google delivers or encourages dual-OS devices based on its new platform. Let’s not forget that Chrome OS is open source and malleable, and is already showing up out in the wild alongside other operating systems–even before it’s launched.

Related content on GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

Google Chrome OS: What to Expect

By Sebastian Rupley

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  1. Dr. Lightmare Friday, March 12, 2010

    I wish Google would merge Android and Chrome OS. There is too much overlap and confusion between the two.

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  2. @ Dr. Lightmare, some people think the same kind of OS merger or elimination game could happen with Apple’s operating systems–although I’m not so sure:

    http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2361204,00.asp

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    1. Dr. Lightmare Friday, March 12, 2010

      Regarding Sebastian Rupley’s point about Apple merging their mobile and “desktop” OS X I am worried about that a great deal.

      They will lose this Apple customer if they ever do that. I love OS X, it is the best desktop UNIX available. But UNIX is an open operating system where users can open up shells and do whatever they want. If Apple tries to erect a walled garden around the “desktop” OS X they will lose a lot of customers over to one of the variant Linux distributions and open up the door for Google’s Linux distribution Android to compete openly with Apple.

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      1. Nah, why would Apple do that? One OS is suited for iPhone and iPad: Can’t multitask, one window stuff. The other is OS X that is suited for desktops: Multitasking, more power, etc. Remember, Apple sells the “power” of that equation: The Macs. So they wanna keep on having a powerful desktop OS.

        So, regarding that theory/fear, just remember that it comes from PC Mag which is, afterall… a PC Mag (Windows biased). Windows fans tend to know or understand ZERO regarding Mac-related affairs.

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      2. Hmm; that’s true. I definitely agree that one the main draws for me towards OS X was the ability for me to do whatever I wanted to.

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  3. “If you think about it, a tablet or netbook running the cloud-focused Chrome OS alongside one that caters to local applications could offer a lot of flexibility.”

    How does this offer more flexibility than a real OS with a web browser? I read a lot of stupid pointless articles on here because the NY Times links to them, but this one really pushes the envelope for stupid and pointless.

    As for the PC Mag article referenced above, its premise is equally absurd. The iPhone and iPad are companion appliances and an iPhone OS-like operating system on an Apple desktop or laptop computer would meet wholesale market rejection for the foreseeable future. Apple isn’t stupid and they didn’t invest all the effort they put into Snow Leopard just so they could dump it for iPhone OS everywhere.

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  4. I can’t say that I agree that Chrome will become the secondary OS on devices. What I see is Chrome becoming the operating system on secondary devices.

    I have a netbook that I use as a secondary computer to my desktop at home. It was running windows xp then windows 7. I got tired keeping up with maintainence issues with Windows. I switched it to Ubuntu and now I just use it with less worry about viruses, tojans and the like. I use it like I used my old MobilePro 790. I turned it on after loading Ubuntu and haven’t thought about it since. The desktop will still run windows, but for secondary devices, linux is working for me. This is where I see Chrome OS working well. As the OS on a secondary device

    BTW, I’m not a anti-windows “Linux Rules” fanboy. I just wanted to ease my computer maintanence efforts. So far, so good.

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    1. @TateJ, that’s a good point, and use on secondary devices has been a common scenario for other Linux-based OSes. However, I don’t think it’s what Google wants. They’re going to market Chrome OS as the best, most secure platform for cloud computing.

      Sebastian

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      1. I agree that Google wants Chrome to be everybody’s OS, but I just don’ t see it happening. What is the incentive for the average person to switch to a cloud based OS on their main or only computer?

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  5. I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding about the objectives of the Chrome OS. Chrome OS does not overlap with Android. If you think they do then you don’t understand Chrome OS.

    As it’s currently designed the types of customers who would benefit from Chrome OS are large business, institutional and government users where the big win would be reduction in IT cost.

    That being said I don’t see how there’s any win for Chrome OS being a secondary OS installed on a single device. Such a setup would completely negate the advantages of the Chrome OS system.

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  6. The market for multi-OS machines is knife-blade thin. Sure, geeks might like to learn different UIs and manage 3 sets of OS updates per system, but the fat part of the market wants something that works and looks like what they use at work, at a friend’s house, etc.

    I run XP, Win7, MacOS and Ubuntu at home. Maybe one of my dork friends is as motivated. The rest are far more pragmatic, and they probably get more done.

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  7. Well I hope they merge it. I actually like Android system compared to Windows OS

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  8. So…. the advantage over Ubuntu or some other LINUX distro would be….?

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  9. Google is going to pull another Android with ChromeOS. As Android started out as something else but eventually blurred the lines with iPhone in 2 releases. Chrome is heading the same direction, v2 would be lot more like iPad with touch as primary input than keyboard. Google is doing what Microsoft did for many years. Miss the mark completely and copy the competition.

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  10. Didn’t Google put out a preferred hardware spec for potential Chrome OS machines that had moderately big disk storage? Surely Chrome OS will have a smallish footprint -so they must have “more than just the Cloud” in mind.

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