Day: July 9, 2009

Computers Need To Get Easier & Better – Chrome OS insight

Google just launched their first operating system, very quietly. But it will have a huge impact.

Computers just need to get easier to use and better for the tasks we want to use them for.

No hassles. No viruses. No learning. No configuring. No updating. No frigging around.

I just want to do stuff. Now. Keep it simple!

Using all sorts of operating systems for years I have a better perspective than most. DOS, VMS, AppleOS, Lots of Mac, Lots of Windows, Lots of Unix, iPhone, Android, ‘browsers’ and a fair few embedded operating systems too.

Lots of UX (User Experience) and usability and design people around the world think they are doing a great job, and generally they are.

But the foundations are made of sand. Their platforms are flawed.

Don’t get me wrong, iPhoneOS and MacOSX have done more for the human race recently – in terms of letting them get on with thinking about the thinking (which only we can do) rather than the machine they are trying to use for the task – than anyone else on the planet. Apple are leading lights.

But even Macs and iPhones take a bit of sorting out and updating regularly and a little learning. I am onto my third new generation Mac and this last one I let my kids unpack, install and configure. They did it in minutes. I watched but it really was child’s play. Ok so the internet wifi was already available but that aside, kids couldn’t do that in the past easily.

But it is still not enough. My Windows and Unix stuff won’t run on the Mac (without parallels or fusion and more installing and configuring and switching).

So Google has launched Chrome OS, not the browser Chrome (9 months old now and used by 30m people regularly they say) but the the Google Chrome Operating System (GCOS?).

Chrome OS has a new windowing system too and will run on most devices (targeting netbooks up to desktops and maybe more) while the android OS is targeting phones and netbooks. So there is some overlap and the Chrome browser underlying technology will work on both. with some tweaks.

I think it is as much an admission that they need two teams (read product lines or production lines in the industrial age) for these two huge market opportunities. The need for focus and speed to market simultaneously in two spaces – as much as any differences – are driving the need for separate products.

It sends a clear message that connected environments are now mainstream. Most business can run entirely from the cloud now. We do.

Same for individuals and families.

And the SaaS (Software as a service) or cloud apps (applications – ie software) all work neatly now, they will also benefit.

The key is standas, mainly javascript (and HTML5 or 6 and java) because it is so standard now and fast (a recent development) the developers are flocking to it.

As a result frameworks are popping up to solve the longer term bigger issues of the browser like local peristence (storage) and semi-online and offline working seamlessly so you can handle being in a taxi and not stop your note taking or emailing or presentation or the like (within limits).

But the BIG CHANGE is something else – simplicity, security, standardisation all of which rolls up into ease of use.


Because the majority of the world still don’t use computers. Even in mature economies with great infrastructure, young kids and older adults still don’t use it much.

This is a BLUE OCEAN play by Google. They can make a difference here to humanity. It may be incremental technically but the impact will be disproportionate because it could enable new lower cost platforms too.

And they don’t have to wait for an app store to get populated. All the web apps will just work on ChromeOS and most of the others will see this as such as huge market they will flock to it.

IF Google can resist the temptation to put too many bells and whistles it may finally deliver what industry pundits have promised for years, as Sun said so aptly the network is the computer.

With peer to peer networking improvements (not promised by Google but my big tip is it will come) these is turning that wisdom on it’s head – the computers are the network.

With other developments by empute (a new stealth startup in Sydney looking at the human to machine interface) this could be a very very interesting space.

You can read the Google official Chrome OS announcement here.