Since late 2009, talk of how Google's Chrome OS is being positioned to "take on" Microsoft Windows has been promoted by individuals who I believe have no idea what they're talking about.
By Google's own admission, Chrome OS is being designed for near exclusive use on netbook computers, due to its minimalist nature. And as we know, netbooks make up a small piece of the collective PC market. This clearly leaves out of desktops and laptops, which will remain dominated by the Windows OS (near term, at least).
This leads us to consider that Microsoft's Windows OS is not the target for Google after all. So the next line of thought leads us to wonder if perhaps Chrome OS is being created to take on something closer to its own design for instance, Ubuntu Linux?
Or perhaps instead theres yet another alternative target that Google has yet to reveal?
In this article Ill explore all these possibilities and share some of my own thoughts as I see the future of Chrome OS moving forward. I will discuss how Ubuntu, Windows and yes, even OS X might play into Google's long term game plan.
Is Chrome OS Linux or not?
In order for there to be a any correlation between Ubuntu and Chrome OS, we need to determine how similar Linux and Chrome OS actually are. Chrome OS is indeed based on the Linux kernel. The Chrome OS project has also benefited greatly from code provided by Moblin and Ubuntu as well.
So given that Linux is basically a kernel, then it's safe to point out that Chrome OS is indeed based on Linux.
Like Linux distributions such as Red Hat and SuSE, Chrome OS has a development base and what will likely become a main user base. The development base would be the open source project known as Chromium OS while the future user base is expected to be what we call Chrome OS.
The differences between the two is that the latter has yet to be put out there for testing, while Chromium OS is available for developers to get their feet wet with the code provided.
In short, they're essentially one in the same, each holding its Linux roots close to its core.
Chrome OS isn't competing with WindowsGoogle isn't trying to compete with Windows or Ubuntu. To Google, the desktop operating system is merely a means to an end.
Unlike Microsoft, which works to maintain dominance on the desktop, Google is fine with allowing the Redmond giant to fight it out with other platform players while Google sticks to what it knows best advertising and web-based services on all platforms.
While Microsoft seeks out market share for their operating system and other software, Google is looking to continue to build presence on as many platforms as possible. This effort includes (of course) their own Chrome OS, in addition to Windows, OS X and other Linux distributions.
But perhaps the biggest thing keeping Chrome OS from being an issue for Ubuntu -- or even Windows for that matter -- is the fact that you won't be able to install it yourself. According to my research, it will be available pre-installed only.
Will Chrome OS become a boon to other Linux distributions?
I believe Chrome OS is a benefit for other Linux distributions thanks to the likelihood of contributed code. Despite this, however, the idea that Google is getting people to give alternative operating systems a second look is merely happenstance and luck for those who want to see the Linux gain on the Windows OS.
No, I think that Google is utilizing Linux code to build its Chrome OS project, then promote what I believe to be an tool that could gain major traction: A Google Chrome Webstore for desktop computing.
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