With Google’s announcement of a Google OS I started thinking that the desktop operating system as we know it may be on its way out. Many people have talked about this for years, but I think its time may have come. When I think about how I use my PC I notice that I spend a lot of time in a browser or in applications that directly access cloud or SaaS applications. I use GMail and Office Live for my email. I use DimDim for web conferencing. I use a SaaS time & billing system. I use Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for communicating with people. My website is the communication hub for my business. I use Google Reader for news, YouTube to share and watch videos and the list goes on. And how about my kids? Most of what they do is in a browser, whether it’s games or school work.
When I fire up my iPod Touch, I know there is an OS in there, but do I care? All I care about is listening to music, seeing pictures, listening to podcasts, accessing documents, and interacting with my world. What matters is the information. I see this with the iPhone, Blackberry, Xbox, my digital camera, the Amazon Kindle and a hundred other things. My stuff is what matters to me and what I really need is a way to organize it and access it.
A lot of the applications running on my PC are there to keep out viruses and malware, manage my disk drives, get rid of temp files, tune my system and worry about a lot of things that don’t matter to me. A lot of this leads to computer bloat and my system slows down; this doesn’t happen on my iPod or Blackberry. The App stores from Apple, Blackberry and Palm seem to be where things are going. If I need an application beyond a browser, I can easily download one for fee or free. The OS is just there and periodically I get an update; and it should be for free or a very minimal cost. With these devices I have the basics to run my device and then I pick what I want on it. Unlike computer operating systems from Microsoft, Apple or various Linux flavors, there isn’t a lot of stuff that I don’t use in there. I realize that this model doesn’t work for everything, because all these devices are somewhat specialized and the PC operating systems are very general and made to be the lowest common denominator; that also makes them a commodity and cheap.
I know a lot of corporations don’t like this idea, because they are not in control of the desktop or laptop. But how many people live on their smart phones anyway? I can get a smart phone app for business applications, just like I can for my entertainment. The lack of a large keyboard for typing is a problem with these devices; I would hate to write a blog on one. When these devices have great voice recognition in them, we may not need to worry about that.
So will the Google Chrome OS make Windows, OS X and Linux obsolete? Is this just another version of the thin client from years ago? Is this just another Google preemptive strike at Microsoft to blunt their new Office in the cloud announement? Who knows. The move to Windows 7 and lighter operating systems is definitely a step in the right direction. I know it’s piqued my interest. What do you think?
photo credit Good OS