Does Google Chrome OS redefine our computing needs?

So the dust settles on the details on Chrome OS and everyone can spend the next few months debating Google’s strategy.

Unlike other Bay Area companies, Google has been known to get it wrong, so just because they are doing something, it doesn’t meant that they will make a success of it. With Chrome OS they’re making the biggest play to cloud computing yet. By cloud computing they actually mean “we’ll be your hard drive that you can connect to wherever you are in the world.”

Yes Google have brought us full circle back to the days of mainframes Dec52’s and VT-100s. Lovely. But now it’s got a shiny name (“cloud”) and a big name behind it. Which it’s going to need because they’ve triggered a holy war.

At the an of smartphones the discussion had been one-box or two-box. Would people want all the functionality in a single potentially compromised device or two dedicated devices that talk to each other. History has pointed to the one-box as the preferred solution but a good two box beats an average one-box… and vice versa.

I think that we’re going to see the same with Google Chrome and netbook OS’ in general, but it won’t be as clear a solution as Colly remembers. Essentially you’ll be choosing if you want your portable computer to be a thin client that relies almost totally on being connected for every operation (even your word processor) or if you want a full Operating System so you can do everything yourself.

Personally I’ll always err to the latter, but I can see the former being very attractive, especially coupled to cheaper hardware and so called under-powered computers. That of course means under-powered for windows because even today the difference between something shoe-horned into a netbook (Windows XP) is much less flexible than Easy Peasy.

I also mean underpowered by today’s standard. Probably the best low-powered mobile computer – the Psion Series 5mx – trundled along with 16MB of combined storage and execution memory and a 32mhz processor. Yet the core functions on that device are still faster in real use than today’s netbooks and laptops.

And where would a 5mx fit into Google’s plan?

Posted in Tips.