I’d like to take the opportunity to wish you a Happy New Year and good fortune for 2010, and introduce Jeff Orloff back to SEOgadget who’s looking at how Google’s Chrome OS could impact the future of computing. Over to you, Jeff!
Google has hit the headlines recently with its announcement that netbooks running their browser based operating system, Chrome, will be on the market in the latter half of 2010. If Chrome OS lives up to expectations, it could have a huge effect on the future of computing. Below are a few things I think the Chrome OS can do:
Make the average computer user comfortable with GNU/Linux
Ubuntu made great strides introducing GNU/Linux to the average user. Providing a clean GUI that didn’t stray too far from the Windows or Mac operating systems they were used to helped establish that comfort level. The animal adjectives (Karmic Koala, Dapper Drake, Hardy Heron, etc.) gave Ubuntu just enough hipness to pique the consumer’s curiosity without scaring them away because it’s Linux. Of course, trumping all of this is the fact that Ubuntu is a great OS so once people made the leap, they generally found themselves happy with their choice.
Even with all of this in its corner, Ubuntu still wasn’t able to make a dent in the desktop market. While it continues to chip away, it will take someone with a big name to really attack the Microsoft hold. That’s where Chrome OS steps in. Google has become such a large name that people no longer use Google, they Google something. The trust they have established with the computer consumer may be just enough to get people to jump on board the open source bandwagon.
An Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex Installation
Of course, the recent success of Android won’t hurt these efforts. Being that Chrome is a souped up version of the smartphone OS, consumers will already be familiar enough with the product on a lighter scale.
Make programmers take security more seriously
I have written before that I find it ironic that good programmers often have no idea how cross-site scripting or SQL injections actually work. Without an understanding of how these exploits work, there is little chance that much is done to prevent them. Not knocking the hard work of these professionals, but when WhiteHat Security makes the claim that 83 percent of all websites have had at least one security flaw, it’s enough to take notice.
Chrome OS being a browser based operating system will be susceptible to all of these vulnerabilities since the applications it runs will be web based as well. While some independent programmers and developers may be oblivious to certain vulnerabilities, you can be assured the folks at Google are not. The last thing they need is report after report telling people how insecure their computers are if they are running Chrome. I would certainly expect to see something along the lines of the Apple App store where applications go through a review process. Being open source, I don’t expect Google to restrict applications, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they recommended certain apps over others. To get noticed, those creating these applications are going to have to step up security or be passed over.
Change the way the communications industry works
Smartphones are popular because with the consistent Internet connection, we can do so much with them. Netbooks never took off as a smartphone replacement because to pay $60 dollars a month for a smartphone, and then another $60 a month for mobile Internet seems like a waste. However, netbooks running Chrome have no other option than to make use of a constant Internet connection. At the same time as promises of a Chrome netbook hitting the market made headlines, AT&T also made news of their own stating that certain users of their smartphones are using too much bandwidth. If Internet traffic is enough to scare away the communication giants, and pricing plans are too high for most consumers, something’s got to give.
The release of netbooks running Chrome may just be enough to prompt the communications industry to upgrade wireless technology to handle the growing use of bandwidth. To stay competitive, it seems to be a no-brainer. For the customer, the ability to tether a smartphone so that it acts as a modem may be the compromise they need to keep their iPhone/Blackberry/Android smartphone as well as a netbook.
Introduce Green Computing to the average household
IBM has made huge strides to bring green computing into the enterprise. With support from hosting companies that run off solar and wind power and GNU/Linux’s tickles kernel, businesses have multiple options for reducing their carbon footprint when it comes to IT.
The choices presented to the consumer market are not as pronounced. Limited to things like turning off their monitor at night, or enabling power save to kick in after 10 minutes of idle time are pretty much the extent of what the home user can do.
Running off the cloud, Chrome will be able to tout itself as a truly green operating system. With much less processing power needed, less energy is expended to run the computer and to cool the computer. The lack of a traditional hard disk drive means less waste. Of course, the push for Chrome to be used in netbooks means a smaller computer altogether, again less power used to cool the computer and less computer that winds up in landfills.
Make a dent in malware
Despite the security industries warnings, people still run their computers without adequate anti-virus protection. Even less update this software to run the latest virus definitions. While most people find it easier to click “Remind me later” when alerted to a file update, few realize that this eventually makes their anti-virus program useless.
Breaking from the traditional desktop model is the fact that Chrome OS will auto-update as a result of the verified boot feature. If the boot process recognizes that there are patches available, these will be installed prior to the boot sequence completing – thus the computer is always up to date.
Another interesting feature that fights malware is the fact that should malware be detected on the computer, the OS can easily reimage itself to remove it. Since data is stored on the cloud, and all the apps run from it as well, there is nothing that needs to be recovered or reinstalled after reimaging.
Google OS promises quite a bit, and if it delivers it could have a huge impact on computing in the upcoming decade.