I wanted to write something about Google Chrome OS. But one quick look at my rss feeds tells me that the world and his wife has already written about it. The tech world has written about this so extensively in the last couple of days (whilst I was gigging) that anything insightful I can possibly write about it has already been said by every blogger from here to eternity. Even fake Steve Jobs is banging on about it. The major press got involved too, with articles appearing in the Times, the Guardian, and on the BBC. But if you want to read a bunch of boring shite from technophobes trying to explain what cloud-based computing is, then be my guest and go and read those articles. Here I’m getting down to the nitty gritty. The no-nonsense guide.
What the heck is this thing?
It’s an operating system. You know, like Windows, or Ubuntu Linux.
Another operating system? What makes this such a big deal?
Well, for starters, it’s based on Linux. That means Google are not coding up a hundred million lines of stuff themselves. They’re relying on the solid groundwork of Linux code that’s already been written. So, the distribution they’re making is guaranteed to work.
Secondly, it’s fucking GOOGLE. They have the financial muscle to get this thing loaded on to netbooks and possibly even desktops if need be. And you can bet that they will. Just imagine walking into a computer shop and seeing something that doesn’t have fucking Windows on it for a change, which nobody has managed to do successfully yet. This is competition for Microsoft, and this is a good thing. For those of you using XP on netbooks, by the way, you have Linux to thank for that. Just remember: if it wasn’t for Linux, Microsoft wouldn’t have made Windows 7.
Thirdly, it will run on more than your average sort of processor. Specifically, it’ll run on ARM-based processors. These are very cheap and dirty processors that are easy to build and they use tiny amounts of power, which means longer battery lives. There’s probably one in the mobile phone you’re using. They can be made a bit more powerful than that, though. They can be made more than powerful enough to run on a netbook, for instance. Linux runs just fine on these devices. The only trouble is people are scared of making them in big numbers, because Windows doesn’t work on ARM processors at all. If Google can make these products lustful, then they will get built. That means many more cheap netbooks for everybody.
It’s cloud-based. But what does that even mean?
Well, it’s moron-language, but in English it means that applications are beamed from the intertubes direct to your computer. All of the heavy duty, megahertz-nomming work can be done on Google’s own servers, and they can send the results to you. What this means is that the machines will be able to run with terribly crap hardware and still be pretty use-able.
Eww. That doesn’t sound very good. What if my internet cuts off? Or I’m outside someplace?
Fret not, young padawan. Google Gears is Google’s tool for getting their webby applications to work on your computer without an internet connection. And luckily, the OS will have Gears built into it. The devices will work just fine when not connected to the web; they just won’t be using their full potential.
Hang on a minute. I thought Chrome was an internet browser, like Firefox.
That’s right, Google have a browser by that name. However, this new operating system will be designed around the browser itself. The desktop won’t really matter very much, as 99% of your time will be spent using the browser. Have you seen the things HTML5 can do, by the way? Watch the video at the end of this blog to see some of the things it can achieve.
I’m a Linux-user. Won’t this be bad for me?
Absolutely not. It’s based on Linux, and it’ll be open-source from the ground up. With Google’s financial might getting this operating system installed on as many new machines as possible, it means hardware and peripheral manufacturers will be falling over themselves to make sure their devices work with it. That means more drivers, more compatibility, more awesome. Those things will filter back to the Linux community, so everyone can join in the fun of having their mobile phones and mp3-players working out of the box, once and for all. Additionally, with so many people working on this, Google will become a pretty active contributor to Linux itself. Linux is all about sharing. There is nothing to be scared of, so quit worrying.
I use Vista and I think this sucks.
You might just as easily say you’re a rape victim who thinks feminism sucks.
Okay, I don’t use Vista. But I’ll be using Windows 7 by the time this thing comes out. What does this mean for me?
It means Microsoft will be working very hard to compete. They’ll be slashing their prices, adding new features, trying to bribe manufacturers into supplying only Windows machines by offering incentives. It’s never been a better time to be a Windows user. Windows is expensive, buggy and lame because it’s the only show in town. But now there’s a brand-new circus right across the street that’s free, fast and shit-hot. Microsoft will pull out all of the stops to keep up. You want to stick with Windows? Expect it to get a lot better while they still have money left.
All right then. But what about Android?
It isn’t the same thing. Google’s Android can be made to run on netbooks and other devices, but it was designed originally to run on mobile phones and such.
When, where, how much?
It’s coming out in 2010, so they say. And it won’t cost you a penny. It’s free and open source software, duh. Even if Google charge people to download it from their site, they can’t stop others from giving it away for free. It’s in the licence, kid. Those are the rules of free software.
Update: I just realised that these sort of posts get far more readers when you include a bullshit top-ten list of bullet point opinions for people to mechanically retweet at random passers-by on the street like a moron. So here’s your god-damned list of stuff about why Google Chrome OS sucks:
- It’ll mean there will be ten zillion fanboys banging on about for ages. People like me, except worse. People who say things like, “I’ve got an app for that on my iPhone three gee ess,” as they retweet a Facebook spam message from one of their moronic, illiterate vague-acquaintances whom they shallowly moniker “friends”, which invariably ends “lol”.
- We’ll have to see lots of boring analysts contemplating shit they don’t have a clue about on boring tech sites. Like me, but worse. The sort of people who use phrases like, “ideas platform” honestly and without wanting to suffocate themselves every morning.
- We’ll have to put up with the army of shills who will come out in force to bang on about how much it sucks. And they will say retarded shit like, “Joe Sixpack can’t use it ready for prime time can’t play Crysis DURRRP.”
- We’ll have to put up with Linux writers banging on about what this means for free and open-source software, and others pointlessly claiming that this is the year of Linux on the desktop.
- We’ll get yet more marketing gobbledygook Web2.0 bullshit weasel words. Something completely retarded like “GOspell” for an application that checks all your spelling. People will blog about it with religious overtones. You know, “I lost my spelling ability but now I am found it with GOspell!” and “Hallelujah for the GOspell.”
- It can’t cure world hunger.
- Cure cancer? Not a chance.
- Old world media will have to report on it. And it’ll be more cringe-inducing and crappy than making a GUI in VB. It’ll be like listening to your grandparents describe a bukkake orgy.
- And when it finally arrives, people who buy it will say crap like, “It can’t play Microsoft Office wtf,” and “Where is the Start menu I can’t see the Start menu!?!?”
- It’ll be in Beta till 8766. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Linux is a work in progress after twenty years, after all. But don’t pretend you’re ever going to bloody finish the damned thing.
- THIS TOP TEN LIST GOES ALL THE WAY UP TO ELEVEN oh sod off.
So now you know what Google Chrome OS is all about. I’ll leave you with this video about how awesome Google Wave is.