Final Words

At a high level, Chrome OS sounds like the most interesting thing to happen to the low end netbook/notebook market since we saw the first Atom platforms. The problem has never been hardware, but rather the software. At $299 - $399, for someone who is truly just going to rely on web based applications, I can see Chrome OS being a very good alternative to a netbook.

The integration of Qualcomm’s Gobi modem is particularly brilliant, giving every Chrome notebook a GPS as well as cellular data connectivity. The 100MB of free transfers per month for two years is just perfect for light users. Chrome OS or not, I’d like to see this sort of a setup on all notebooks.

Google does raise some very interesting points with Chrome OS. Although you can technically do more with a Windows PC, Microsoft still has to provide answers to the high security, hands off updating approach of Chrome OS. I suspect Redmond isn’t standing by idle while this happens, but I do wonder when we will see something from Microsoft.

Then there’s everything that’s happening in the smartphone and tablet space. Android, iOS and Windows Phone are all doing battle on their own, with goals contrary to that of the desktop players (Windows, OS X) and Chrome OS. Interoperability is important but something that many of these platforms don’t allow. Chrome OS at least allows it within Google’s browser, but outside of it you’re left with nothing. I’m not sure I like the idea of buying a different app for every single device in my possession.

The beauty of a new era is the diversity you get from the players involved. The downside is the chaos, the fragmentation. The players involved are absolutely huge. The industry hasn’t seen this sort of an environment since, honestly, before I was born. The leaders in computing in the 1970s and 1980s are mostly gone today, I can’t help but wonder who will survive as things settle into place.

I never understood people who liked to skip to the end of books until I started watching all of this unfold. This is one book that I’m too fascinated by to not want to skip ahead and see how things turn out.

Performance & ISA Independence
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  • Incognitus - Thursday, December 9, 2010 - link

    So, what you get is a crippled computer for the price of a real one that is locked into a walled garden software environment controlled by a company that build its business model on digging personal data, while effectively re-introducing the dial-up era "pay-per-use" model of old ?

    Sorry, maybe I have not drunken enough cool aid to see why this is great for any user.

    One can only hope that MS stays in business and true to a business model that actually makes a PC a device that INCREASES freedom. And boy, if you would have told me 10 years ago that one time MS would become the last line of defense when it comes to freedom and privacy, I would have laughed you out of the door.
  • andrewbuchanan - Friday, December 10, 2010 - link

    Lol. how true.
  • Murst - Thursday, December 9, 2010 - link

    Anand -

    Your comments about the performance hit due to Win7 seems to go directly against the comments about Moore's law.

    If Moore's law continues to apply, we should continue seeing massive performance increases in Netbooks at the same price points. By the end of next year (probably), it should mean that Netbooks should have absolutely no problem running Win7 (even if price continues to drop, it can't keep on dropping forever ). If that's the case, the performance advantage of Chrome OS disappears.

    It just seems like there was a market for Chrome OS, but Google was a couple years too slow. If this was released a couple years ago, it could have made a huge difference. However, if performance will no longer be a problem for Netbooks running Win7, the advantages of something like Chrome OS aren't so clear, especially at the same price points.
  • Spivonious - Thursday, December 9, 2010 - link

    Isn't Google giving away the OS somewhat anticompetitive? Apple and MS can't compete with that.

    Also, $400 is just way too much for what 1990s Sun would call an Internet appliance. For the same $400 I can get a CULV laptop and get a much better experience.
  • Zorblack1 - Thursday, December 9, 2010 - link

    So I can spend $50 more and get a netbook with Windows and DL Chrome and get the same experience + windows. What a joke.

    However that said the idea of a complete browser based OS is interesting and headed towards the future.

    Data rates in the US are outragous. They should never be refered to as reasonable even if they are inline with current pricing (raping?).
  • Radicchio - Thursday, December 9, 2010 - link

    As I see it, one big advantage of Chrome is the 'stateless' PC in that if you lose your laptop or it is corrupted, it will automatically download a new boot image and as soon as you log in, restore all your apps and settings.

    Windows 7 already provides very this functionality for your Office 2007 settings and Favourites via Live Mesh. What I would like to see is this extended so the entire user profile (up to 5GB) is synchronised automatically and transparently: if my laptop hard drive fails I still need to reinstall Win 7 and my apps, but I then log into Mesh and everything is restored.

    A small service running the Windows Easy Transfer utility and Mesh is all that is required and this would also be an ideal way to deal with the build-up of 'Windows cruft'...
  • ABR - Thursday, December 9, 2010 - link

    I don't get the "it's not the apps, it's the OS" argument. It might be that Windows bogs things down a lot by itself, but in most cases the reason for all the swapping, etc. is -- guess what -- the web browser. Web browsers increasingly attempt to provide a whole OS's worth of GUI and document manipulation possibilities, which are effectively layered over the same stuff provided by the OS. But because of constraints or unplanned development by small teams or whatever else, they've never been particularly efficient. It's not uncommon to see browsers consuming dozens of megabytes per tab. That's millions of bytes of information for a far less interactive display than provided by a typical desktop app.

    This is why Apple took the opposite approach with iOS: apps have only one layer of highly-optimized API before getting to the low-level OS and then the hardware. The smoothness i-devices have over others with better hardware is the result.

    But in computing, the higher-level model always wins, because hardware overtakes any inefficiency. The Chrome approach might be the future, but it will be in spite of bloat, not because of reducing it.
  • wumpus - Thursday, December 9, 2010 - link

    The opening statement claimed that you could reach 90% of personal computers in 1996 by writing for one OS seems unlikely. You could probably run a DOS program on 90%, but it would be much harder to get win 3.1 and windows95 users to run in the DOS penalty box. I know I still played plenty of games (Quake 1 and I'm sure plenty of glade games) in DOS but I think your hypothetical program would get more users if built for win3.1 (but would not be possible on >10% of boxes).
  • andrewbuchanan - Thursday, December 9, 2010 - link

    I'd rather have a notebook with windows and run chrome in it.

    And at 12" you can get a notebook. Might cost alot more than $400, but it'd be able to do alot more as well.

    Also the new amd atom alternatives should be fast enough to run windows 7 better and still fall into the $400 price range.
  • MrSpadge - Thursday, December 9, 2010 - link

    This is really fascinating! If you trust Google this is.. dare I say the holy grail of computing? A system which just works and which is capable of almost any task most people need to do. Nevermind the curretn hardware implementation, cost for data transfer etc... this could change / improve any day.

    Just forget your well managed, high performance main rig for a moment and consider Joe Sixpack in all his computer-illiterate clumsy-ness and what this could do for him!

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