Google’s Linux OS: what’s going to be special about it?

9 07 2009


Google just announced that they will be launching their own open-source operating system that would compete against the venerable Microsoft Windows. Story here.

According to Google, the core benefit of this product is that it will offer a better online experience:

“The plan is part of Google’s bet that a huge shift in computing is under way. In Google’s view, Web connections will become so fast and browsers so powerful that most of the programs that currently run on PCs will be replaced by online applications.”

If there’s two things I’ve learned from my switching experience into using Linux, Open Office, and the like is that this may not be enough reason to switch: how hard is it anyway to go online using a Windows or Mac system?  Quite easy actually. And no harder than using any other connected device–be it a cell phone, iPod touch or whatnot.

Instead, here’s what I think really helps in getting people to use open source.

  1. Familiarity. Most people have probably used a computer before, and likely a Windows-based one.  For regular users like me, familiarity really helps in making that transition more painless.  Why recreate the wheel unless you’re inventing the airplane?
  2. FREE sells. A very simple and straightforward point,but extremely powerful nonetheless.  If you add up the commercial programs typically needed, one could save over $500!  (Windows $200, Office $300, Antivirus $20)
  3. Offline apps are still important. For developed nations, online speeds are at a reliablel level that YES, I can imagine Google Spreadsheets slowly one day replacing the Calc or Excel programs I use on my PC.  But that’s still a long time away.  And what about the developing nations that still live on low bandwidth connections?

I look forward to everything that’s new and exciting, this new Google OS included.  But my title question still stands: what’s going to be special about it?




One response

21 07 2009
Lopo Lencastre de Almeida

One thing that I’n not so sure on this hype is that I’m not seeing anyone with its complete mind in place to switch from something where they control the data storage to something that will be hosted by others — mostly Google — with unpredictable results in secrecy and truly security.

At least I won’t see any responsible corporation to do this.

I see corporations moving more and more to having an internal server and having their own browser based applications running in thin diskless clients, specially since new cheap, fast and thin hardware is available.

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