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Remember Microsoft Bob? It was a shiny new windowing system on top of a windows kernel. Now Google is announcing the imminent release of the Chrome OS which, according to the official Google blog http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/07/introducing-google-chrome-os.html is a new windowing system on top of a Linux kernel. So is it an OS or a GUI?
Chrome OS is certainly not what one would typically call an operating system, but perhaps Google is trying to redefine OS for marketing purposes. That might work, Google has some very talented marketing people, as well as talent in many other areas.
Don’t get me wrong, Chrome Os may end up being great, but a critical look at the blog reveals a lot of Google claims that simply aren’t necessarily entirely accurate.
Can you spot the hype and cut through it?
“the operating systems that browsers run on were designed in an era where there was no web. So 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.”
While Linux was designed when the web existed, it was written to be a clone of an OS designed well before the web existed. Chrome appears to be a Linux distribution, not a new operating system. Additionally, since Windows 95 Microsoft has been writing and releasing operating systems designed with the web in mind. Apple has been doing the same thing.
“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.”
This is interesting. Is Google really redesigning the security architecture of Linux? As vulnerabilities appear in the Linux kernel from time to time will they not have to be patched, or does Google mean that they will silently be updated regardless of the user’s desires? Additionally, malware is no longer limited to the operating system. Facebook worms, twitter worms, and other social networking malware will still be an issue.
Google isn’t the first company to bolt a GUI on an operating system and call it a new OS. Windows started as a GUI for MS DOS.
It will be interesting to see and play with Chrome, but I don’t think we will see a radically new operating system.
Director of Technical Education
Author ESET Research, ESET