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.
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.
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