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Google Chrome OS – Web-Apps on the Desktop

(The german version of this article is also available on my blog)

Finally, Google does what many of us were expecting for a while: The new and improved, revolutionary „Google Chrome OS“ is announced. Why am I not overwhelmed by the news?

Maybe because the buzzwords in the announcement are pretty overused: Faster, better, more web-oriented, less virus-prone, more usable – we have heard all of this before.

They tell us the systems which run today’s webbrowser were developed without the internet. That is not completely correct: The Internet is rooted so deeply in UNIX/Linux, that it should be safe to say the internet was developed alongside with UNIX.

The user-interface, but also services like printing or logging of system events are done via the internet-protocol – even if there is only one PC involved. We can  access servers on the internet as if they were local harddrives. We can remotly control computer on the internet, as if they were standing under our own desk. Yes, usability can be improved, but all the basics are available. – “Those who don’t understand UNIX are condemned to reinvent it, poorly.” – Henry Spencer

And the fact that Google announces Chrome OS to be based on a Linux kernel also confirms that Linux alread has many of the promised features, like the lack of viruses, being internet based, etc.

So, Chrome OS is only yet another graphical user interface for Linux. Next to KDE, Gnome and all the lightweight windowmanagers – another one will arrive. The linux-community is tollerant. The linux-community has learned to live with alternatives.

The Google Browser – sorry, the Google Operating System is basically just another Webbrowser, running on a slim OS.  That also explains why GMail, Google-Docs and other web-applications went out of beta yesterday: They need them to be operative in order to be able to work with Chrome.

Why should we use ChromeOS? The applications run on every PC with a webbrowser. Those who want to migrate their complete workflow into the web and sell their soul to google can do that on Windows with the Internet Explorer, on Linux with Firefox or on Apple MacOS with Safari.

Oh, btw: Those who run a complete operating system also has access to alternatives beyond Google, and even beyond the Cloud. And I think that is the real motive behind Google OS: User Lock In.

Maybe I am doing Google wrong on this point, and maybe ChromeOS will be the best invention since the spoon. But right now, all of this looks like a monopolist, trying to step into another business field.

Not with me, thank you very much!

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