Is Chrome The Next Step To GooOS?Many people have wondered why in the world Google would release a web browser. Everything Google does has been web based (the exceptions are cases where they bought other companies, e.g., Google Earth, Picasa, etc.). It seemed, for the longest time, that Google's claim to fame was cloud computing, where all data was created, modified, and stored in the cloud. That made sense. Every other company made applications that had to be installed on a computer. When you traveled to a friend's house, if they didn't have that program you wouldn't be able to show him the cool GDP spreadsheet you just made. If you used Google Documents, that wasn't a problem, because the application lived in the cloud and could be accessed from any computer with an Internet connection.
So back to Chrome... Obviously, this isn't a cloud application. You need some way to access the cloud, and the current way is with a web browser, therefore a web browser can not be a cloud application. Because of that, Google has made a direction change. I have no "ins" with Google, so I can't say that for certain what they will be doing, but I will offer my opinions.
We've already said that Chrome is taking a step in the opposite direction of the cloud; but why? Some say that this is a step toward the Google operating system. Will it cost money or will it be free? We can assume that since every other application offered by Google is free, their OS will be free. Currently, the only real option is Linux. So right from the get-go, the idea that makes the most sense is for Google to release their own distribution of Linux. But wait, there's more.
Why would Google release an operating system when we already have many choices that work? You can bet that Google will find some way to integrate Google search technology into the OS. Now this is where things get tricky. Google's search algorithms are closely guarded. No one knows them except Google. Linux, however, is open source. That means if Google was to integrate their search technology into the base Linux code, it would have to be open source (based on the derivative restrictions of the GPL). That's not an option for Google. So their search technology would have to be a stand alone application, even though it is possible to fake tight integration. This would probably be the route Google takes.
Since Google can't put their code right in with the Linux code, that means it will be it's own application. If that is the case, that means it can be installed on any Linux distribution. You can bet that every repository will pick it up and host it (apt, yum, up2date, etc.). The same goes for the look and feel. If Google were to create their own desktop environment or window manager, that also would be installable on any Linux distro. So what is the driving force for current Linux users, or users of other OSs, to switch to the Google OS? I don't see any. If I can install two application to my Fedora host and get the awesome Google search capabilities, I'm going to do that. That's much easier than formatting and reinstalling.
This wouldn't be a real Google article unless I mentioned ads. If Google does make an OS, you can bet there will be ads. Now, Google will probably fine a great, non-intrusive way to put ads in their OS, but they'll be there. You can bet on it. They could be separate from their search capabilities or they could be integrated. There are reasons for both. If the search/look applications are separate, Google will probably opt to put ads in those programs. This way, if users on other OSs choose to install the Google applications, they will be presented with ads the same way as users of the Google OS would. If everything was integrated in the OS, Google could put ads in more places than just the two applications we've been talking about. But, as a catch all, they may do both.
My prediction: there will not be a Google OS. It doesn't make sense. It would just be a rehash of the OSs we already have. But, that hasn't stopped them in the past. Chrome is just a rehash of current browsers, and a poor one at that.