This week Google announced that it would be releasing the Chromebook, a low-cost netbook fitted with Google’s Chrome OS, which essentially means a laptop with a web browser. Manufactures who’ve signed up to producing laptops exclusively with Chrome OS (instead of Microsoft’s Windows) include Samsung and Acer, who will be building machines that will apparently boot up in 8 seconds and be malware free.
The gathering cloud
The interesting issue for me regarding this story is that users of Google’s Chromebook will be relying solely on software stored in ‘the Cloud’. Although this might seem like a radical concept for many people, most of us are already accessing email, social networks, photos and more using web-based applications so this could well be a natural step further in that direction.
Although the trend has been towards tablets instead of netbooks, the revolution is less about the hardware and more about the philosophy and thinking around how software is used. Individuals using Google’s Chrome OS means that as long as they’ve got an internet browser everything is accessible, wherever they are and on whatever computer they have access to at any one time. The user experience is always kept simple and identical.
A challenge to Microsoft?
Google is also posing an interesting challenge to Microsoft. Businesses use Windows because it’s so simple to use and saves money on training and infrastructure. But if more companies go the way of Samsung and Acer and begin installing a simple operating system like Google’s, encouraging users to access web-based applications, how will Microsoft be affected in the long-term?
It will be interesting to see how this develops going forward. How much will we all depend on ‘the Cloud’ in the future? And how will Google’s competitors respond?