How Google could Win the OS Wars

The gOS release suggests that Google could succeed if it entered the market with a variation of the popular Ubuntu Linux distribution.
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For a number of years now, Google has been waging a battle to win over your desktop without ever settling for one OS platform. Opting to play it safe by not entering the platform wars, Google has ensured that most of their offering are available on a cross-platform basis. This decision has allowed Google to gain considerable ground without ever needing to fire a shot across the bow of the Windows flagship.

But what if they were to put this mindset aside, and find themselves in a position to take on Microsoft in a more direct way? Clearly, in order for this to happen it would mean that Google has to enter uncharted territory. Competing directly with the big gorilla of proprietary software – Microsoft.

Experiment by proxy – gOS.

Ever since its initial release, gOS has been touted as non-Google supported. Even its name simply translates into "Good" OS, not Google OS as some initially speculated.

Regardless, the fact remains that gOS has allowed Google to see what it might be like had the search engine giant decided to enter the OS market using a variation of the popular Ubuntu Linux distribution, along with the gOS distribution layout.

Overall, gOS has been received as an over-branded mess by most who dare to give it a go. Chaotic menus, redundant use of online applications along side of offline applications – there’s little doubt that Google has seen what not to do. While there are some areas that gOS has done well with, overall more time has been put into branding than development.

Even while fully understanding the repercussions of duplicating the mistakes made by the gOS group, could Google storm the heavily fortified Microsoft market share and perhaps even gain substantial ground for Linux users in the loyal-to-Redmond hardware market?

I think they might be able to make it work, so long as they utilize the following commonsense strategy.

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Thanks in part to fantastic efforts like the desktop Linux community movement, Google now has the raw material at their disposal to take desktop Linux to the next level. At the same time, however, there are areas Google would need to address in order for them to compete on level playing field with the proprietary alternatives out there. The Google enhanced needs include:

• Create a real hardware eco-system. Despite desktop Linux offering the best hardware compatibly seen in years, the fact is there are still a number of sound cards, video cards and wireless devices that require heavy tweaking before the end user is going to be up and running as they expect.

What’s needed is a means of not just qualifying existing hardware for use with desktop Linux, but also making it genuinely attractive for today's hardware vendors to play ball with the chosen Google-supported Linux distribution. Google also needs to make this worthwhile to the manufacturers, because apparently today's Linux-using customers are not enough. Considering the fact that these companies will not likely be interested in one-time sales, why not offer them something they might not otherwise have – a fanatical fan base of Linux users.

We need to create an organized incentive to not only reward people for accurately reporting what newly released hardware works, but also provide all involved with test-ready examples of the latest and greatest hardware to begin compatibility testing.

So what would the reward be for these compatibility testers? Keeping the assigned hardware after the review, which was provided by Google in the first place. This reward option would likely prove to be more cost effective than paying a wage to testers. It would provide a vested interest in seeing the gifted hardware work on a Google supported distribution as well.

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Tags: Linux, Google, Microsoft, wireless, gOS

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