Google Chrome OS

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So Google just announced a few hours ago that they're going to release a very web-centric operating system late next year. Here is the article.

First of all, I'm not so sure I like all of this anti-microsoft talk...

But here's my real tiff with this idea: I'm actually a fan of system applications. I use a lot of google apps like gmail, google calendar, google reader and gtalk. Anyone that has me as a gmail contact knows that I'm online 24 hours a day (mainly because my phone keeps me logged in, but also mainly because I'm always on a computer). I can't get myself to use the browser version of these apps though. I have my gmail synced with my Apple Mail, my google calendar is synced with my iCal, I use Mail for some RSS feeds and I use Adium for gtalk. I can't remember the last time I actually went to gmail.com for anything. I just don't really like using it, and I have a couple of reasons for it.

1) Web applications are great because they are cross-platform and let you access your data from any computer, which is awesome, and even though most pages are asynchronous now, you still have to refresh pages every once in a while to get a real refresh. The AJAX portion of web apps just isn't good enough for me. I never have to refresh my Apple Mail or my Adium gtalk. They just work, all the time, 100% and I love it. No refreshing involved.

2) I want my data available all of the time... not just when I'm connected to the internet. As much as google thinks that everyone is online all of the time, it's just not the case. There are many times throughout the day that I am somewhere that I can't get an internet connection (on campus, in my car, etc). Sure, this will improve with time, but it will be a while before you ALWAYS have an internet connection. Just this last weekend I went to St. George and guess what... no internet connection. I was glad I had my email, calendar and RSS feeds all stored on my computer, not just online. I would have gone insane otherwise. I could get to all of my stuff even though I wasn't online. You can never do this in a completely web-based OS. It just doesn't work. As much as I really like google applications, I'm not so sure how I feel about this idea.

I guess I shouldn't really worry about it because it will be a LONG time (if ever) before most people use this new OS. Chrome's been out a 9 months already and they still don't really have that many users.

17 comments:

Boz said...

Greetings, my friend. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives! And remember, my friend, future events, such as these, will effect you in the future. You are interested in the unknown, the mysterious, the unexplainable- that is why Google Chrome OS is here.

Yes, as it stands now, you are right, it's impractical for most people to have all their stuff in the cloud. Internets are slow and many places don't have it, but having people shift their stuff to the cloud will put more demand on public internet access. Once internets are fast enough and reliable enough, there really won't be much of a need for local hard drives and whatnot. It will be a while, but you have to start somewhere.

Matt said...

Added better paragraph spacing to make it easier to read. Sorry, it was bugging me:

So I'm the total opposite from you, Luke. I hate applications. If I can find something in the cloud that can do a decent job of replacing an app, I'll take it. The less stuff I have to install on my computer, the better. Honestly, I think as far as people who use computers and the Internet as much as we do go, you're probably in the minority.

Now, I don't think a web OS is going to replace a real OS anytime soon. I think that right now it's perfect for netbooks, which is what Chrome OS is targeting. It's only a matter of time, though.

Point #1: I never refresh Gmail or most other web apps that I use. I'm not really sure what your issue is here. Perhaps it's a Mac thing? :P Either way, I don't think it's a very valid complaint. I'm assuming your Apple Mail is using IMAP to get your e-mail? There's just as much of a delay there, if not more so (your client has to check the server for new messages), than using a web interface.

Point #2: Boz is right, it's probably not practical for a lot of people right now. That will change over time. But your arguments aren't 100% accurate here, either. It is possible to use web apps and have your stuff offline as well. It's called Google Gears. I realize this doesn't cover all the apps out there, but it's still pretty new. Also, I'm confused as to how useful it is to have access to all your email offline, anyway. Calendar I can see, but I sync my calendar on my phone and I assume you do the same. Lack of a net-connected computer is becoming less of an issue for most people who need to be on the grid at all times. People who don't need it, don't care anyway.

Pseudo-point #3 (A.K.A. Jab at Google, because you're going to work for Microsoft): First, what do you have to "worry" about if it is successful? Competition? Secondly, Linux is a very popular OS for netbooks. I guarantee you a linux-based web OS with Google's name on it (which will be free and open-source) will do just fine. Thirdly, 9 months is a long time to deem Chrome a success or failure? Really? How long has IE been around? Firefox? How about we compare it to Opera? It's been around for 13 years. Chrome has more than twice the users in 9 months.

Matt said...

P.S. I didn't see the word "Microsoft" anywhere in the Google article.

Luke Millar said...

No... they didn't talk about Microsoft in this article obviously because this is Google's official blog, but most of the other sites reporting on it saying something like "The final step towards replacing Microsoft" or something like that. I don't think that these two companies can't continue to co-exist though...

Matt said...

I just finished reading this article that makes a lot of really good points that I have to agree with. My favorite quote, and the way I feel about a lot of things computer-related these days is, "It's all someone else's problem."
http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-07-08/google-will-kill-the-pc/

Matt said...

Apparently your blog doesn't create links automatically, lets try this:
http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-07-08/google-will-kill-the-pc/

Boz said...

yeah, I'll agree with Mat here. The only reason I have to have word (or open office) installed is because google docs doesn't have some of the features I need. This is an issue with the software, not the nature of the software.

There are plenty of examples of pretty powerful web apps (www.aviary.com).

The only issue I see with cloud computing is that if a company goes under, you're screwed.

Luke Millar said...

Ok... here goes.

It's not just a "mac thing". The only place I ever experience this refreshing thing is using firefox on my linux machine at work, because that is the only place that I ever use the browser version of gmail. A lot of gmail is self-refresh, but there are some parts of that page that are not asynchronously updated. These do require a refresh to get them updated. I can't remember any specific examples right now but they do exist because every once in a while they frustrate me.

The catch about this conversation is that we're only talking about data-based applications. Like Email, or Calendar, or Contacts. What about the rest of your programs? Think of all of the programs that just don't work in a browser sense. I'll be so mad if one day my employer expects me to program in a browser. Loads of project files and code files open, compiling, editing, debugging... I can't see that happening in a browser... ever. I don't want to listen to my music online. Oh dang it... you're driving in your car with no wifi? Well... no music for you I guess.

Maybe I just don't see the big picture. Or maybe I am just dragging my feet here, but if future events, such as these, will affect us in the future, then I'm not that excited about it.

evan said...

1) The fact that you think you sometimes have to refresh an ajax app is completely beside the point. If true, it is a simple bug.

2) You can already make web-apps work offline. Any browser that supports HTML5 (which is all of them except for IE. Surprising? I don't think so :)) can do it.

3) Lots of things can be done sufficiently well in a web app. Some things can be done better in a native apps still. That line will move over time as the web gets faster and more mature.

Luke Millar said...

Let me clear my name here... just because an app is ajax based, doesn't mean the ENTIRE webpage is. You can have just a PORTION of the page asynchronously refresh.

You definitely do not have to refresh AJAX apps, but there are somethings that are either bugs or just not AJAX enabled. Somethings are really hard to do through AJAX (not saying they can't be done) so the company just doesn't even bother.

evan said...

That's fine, but I guess I don't see how that relates to the broader topic. Because some websites have elements that need to be refreshed all web apps are inferior to native apps?

evan said...

btw, I don't completely disagree with your sentiment. Native apps are not going away anytime soon. I just think that as more and more stuff is moving online and into the cloud, at some point it makes sense to have a device that just does that stuff in a fast and light weight way, without having the added weight of an entire OS to deal with.

Boz said...

This is the whole reason for starting from the ground up with an OS designed for web apps. The only reason web apps are generally crappy is because browsers were initially designed to to display data generally organized through HTML.

Developers have found ways to make browsers do more than just display HTML, but all web apps are still held back by some of the basic rules set by HTML.

If you start over, you have to have these rules, and you can make web apps just as good as native apps, even better, because you can offload your heavy processing on to other machines.

Luke Millar said...

That's true... I guess webapps will get better and better which is a good thing. Shouldn't complain about that. A lot of webapps feel very webpage-ish still. That Aviary.com thing is pretty impressive. Maybe cross-browser development will be easier one day.

Boz said...

Also, I have found that I do a majority of my music listening online now. While it's pretty clunky, iTunes is hardly any better, and I have terabytes worth of music to sift through, as opposed to the same few gigs of music that I've been listening to for the past 10 years.

Luke Millar said...

You use pandora? or last.fm? or what?

Boz said...

imeem. You pick the song, and there is no skip limit. And it has pretty much everything.

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