Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Google Chromestellation has landed, the Netbook wars begin again

Last December I wrote about Google Chromestellation. I was excited about it. Subsequently Microsoft counterpunched the Netbook gang by giving away XP. They gave up a lot of revenue to keep the wolves at bay.

It's worked, Linux Netbooks are in retreat and prices have stayed at the $400 and up range. Netbook prices haven't fallen into disruptive $150 range.

Microsoft won the first battle of the Netbook War.

Today the second battle began ...
Official Google Blog: Introducing the Google Chrome OS

It's been an exciting nine months since we launched the Google Chrome browser ... today, we're announcing a new project that's a natural extension of Google Chrome — the Google Chrome Operating System. It's our attempt to re-think what operating systems should be.

Google Chrome OS is an open source, lightweight operating system that will initially be targeted at netbooks. Later this year we will open-source its code, and netbooks running Google Chrome OS will be available for consumers in the second half of 2010. Because we're already talking to partners about the project, and we'll soon be working with the open source community, we wanted to share our vision now so everyone understands what we are trying to achieve.

Speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS. We're designing the OS to be fast and lightweight, to start up and get you onto the web in a few seconds. The user interface is minimal to stay out of your way, and most of the user experience takes place on the web. And as we did for the Google Chrome browser, we are going back to the basics and completely redesigning the underlying security architecture of the OS so that users don't have to deal with viruses, malware and security updates. It should just work.

Google Chrome OS will run on both x86 as well as ARM chips and we are working with multiple OEMs to bring a number of netbooks to market next year. The software architecture is simple — Google Chrome running within a new windowing system on top of a Linux kernel. For application developers, the web is the platform. All web-based applications will automatically work and new applications can be written using your favorite web technologies. And of course, these apps will run not only on Google Chrome OS, but on any standards-based browser on Windows, Mac and Linux thereby giving developers the largest user base of any platform.

Google Chrome OS is a new project, separate from Android...
Chromestellation, the modern Chrome version of Netscape Constellation, is now real.

I expect Google will brand some of those OEM Netbooks and they will be sold for very little money. When used on WiFi they will be advertising delivery systems. They will be useable on mobile phone networks with metered use, a certain amount of use may be paid for by ads.

Microsoft will fight like Hell.

This is going to be fun.
Update 7/8/09: The best commentary I’ve read so far came from the reincarnation of Fake Steve Jobs. It’s a parody of course, but FSJ always has a serious message. I read it as saying:
  • It will hurt Microsoft by forcing them to lower Windows 7 pricing.
  • It will hurt Apple more than Microsoft (presumably because Microsoft is impregnable in the business market, Apple is vulnerable in the home market).
  • It will be a money loser for Google and it won’t have much impact on the world

I think everyone would agree it puts pressure on Win 7 netbook prices. I think Apple users are a different market, but I agree Apple will be vulnerable.

I disagree on the third one. I think Google is aiming for a huge market that currently has little relationship with the Net and with computers.

Update 7/9/09: The NYT has two strong commentaries, one of which refers obliquely to Netscape Constellation:

There are many millions of people in the US alone that do very little on their computer, or who live with virus infested machines that routinely crash, or who don't have a working computer because they can't afford to buy or, more importantly, maintain a modern OS.

Google is aiming straight at this group. Microsoft is nowhere near them.

At the same time there are many families with one or two computers and 3-5 family members. They really need more machines, but they'd be fine with 1 Mac (say) and 4 GooBooks (, btw, has been registered).

Microsoft can and will respond to this threat, but they will be badly hurt. That's good news for Apple; my hunch is that Google's entry will so weaken Microsoft that the net effect for the Mac will be relatively neutral.


votetheday said...

We invite everybody to speculate on the outcome of the battle 'Google Chrome OS-Windows'. Is Google going to knock Microsoft down? Or Windows will never be defeated as the most popular OS? Tell us -

Unknown said...

Let us all remember when we talk about OS that the little guys [consumers] need today an OS that loads rapidly and without all that nonsense [Vista, Snow Leopard] as we are now accustomed to our phone accessing the web, we do not need all that software extras. Google knows the future and it is in the clouds ... they will eventually win. Windows will eventually be reduced to commercial applications. Long live the Chrome King.