back to article Google's vanity OS is Microsoft's dream

No one will be happier than Microsoft about Google's vanity venture to market computers with a Google-brand OS. It gives us the illusion of competition without seriously troubling either business, although both will obligingly huff and puff about how serious they are about this new, phoney OS war. Since both of these giants are …


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  1. DZ-Jay


    Thank you, Mr. Orlowski, for bringing a bit of common sense and rationality to El Reg. Seems like the hype of Web 3.0 is really exciting your brethren there.

    Plus ça change..., as they say.


  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Sad but true

    My view on the contents of this article.

    If Google throws resources at open source Linux, it could have made a dent in Microsoft's dominance. This half baked attempt at a very niche application is going to have very little impact.

    The only aspect I disagree with in this article is that over 90% of users will indeed be served well by the thin computing model. Most people don't edit video. They do want to share photos but these need to be uploaded anyway. Updating a facebook profile, or getting emails, looking at photo sharing sites, looking at BBC news, recipes etc. is what most of the public do. El Reg readers are not "normal" users.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Linux is a fine OS until you get to the applications - ah, yes... GIMP - and integration with the real-world, doing stuff your Mum needs to do. "

    That's just plain wrong. Linux distros of various flavours can do everything that 80% of the population need from their computers: word processing, email, web browsing, music and camera connectivity. Mums the world over have no reason to use anything else.

    It's professionals that are missing their apps. Gimp is, as far as I can tell, no longer being developed except by a handful of people who don't use it and is so far behind the curve it's out of sight now. Inkscape is good but has some strange quirks and is limited to single illos or pages. Scribus is a form of torture compared to InDesign. No Quickbooks or any reasonable facsimile No Flash editing suite etc etc. It's really only programmers like myself that can really get the usage out of Linux by writing our own software and I've not actually used Windows for a decade now, although I recover and repair other people's Windows machines.

    Mum's fine, it's pretty well everyone else that's going to struggle with Linux.

  4. Bill Gould
    Gates Halo


    A good read and well put together.


  5. Mr Spoon
    Dead Vulture

    Some more research maybe?

    Come on, I've only read a few brief articles about this and I'm still seeing misconceptions in this piece. I broadly agree with the gist but it's all a bit sloppy.

    The article talks about this OS as if it's going to be a Linux distro, it's not it's just using the kernel and its own UI, much like Android.

    Also: "Android would have been a much better choice". This is being based on Android....

    Also, Java isn't an interpreted language, seeing as it must be compiled to bytecode to run on a VM first.

    Yes the Gimp has a bit of an annoying UI (though it was recently greatly improved) but picking on one app is a little unfair. If you look at the vast majority of Gnome apps they adhere quite strictly to the Gnome UI guidelines, certainly far more so than Windows apps, particularly Microsoft's.

    "Google doesn't really have a lot of faith in its own cloud computing applications if it needs to take a huge multiuser OS and strip out the innards, just as a backup." : It's not stripping out the innards, it's only using the innards (Linux itself, not the GNU userland).

    I could go on...

  6. Kwac

    @Robert Long 1

    No problem - let the professionals pay for (and get tax relief) Photoshop et al.

    I'd suggest that Linux can do significantly more than what 80% of the population use their computers for though.

    Linux isn't Windows - in the same way that a Ducati 996 isn't a Ford Ka.

  7. Gene Cash Silver badge


    ...if only it hadn't been orphaned by Nokia. You can get it with decent slide-out keyboard (N810) or without (N800) and it's lived in my pocket for 3 years. It has a fairly decent UI for a mobile device, and runs continuously for me for 5 days between charges. I wrote a ton of pyGTK apps for it, and it even runs an old mobile Firefox. I keep the parts microfiches for my motorcycles on it, for instance.

    It has a killer 4" 800x600 screen which is about 2x the DPI of anything else. I frickin' LOVE LOVE LOVE that crisp little display. I also love the touchscreen which has lasted years of heavy use w/o issues, unlike Palm crap.

    Soooo close..... The hardware was willing but the company was weak.

    Anyway, I think Google is going "look at us! we're edgy! cutting edge! makin' an OS!" and when there's not much reaction, they're going to quietly drop it when they realize how much work it is.

  8. Andres

    Missed the point somewhat

    Where does it say they are aiming for a full-blown OS to sit on desktop PC's / servers? No wonder IT people get such negative press. You make it seem as if we are obsessed with raw power and functionality and to hell with the interface and the actual user requirements.

    A majority of users would be happy with a cheap netbook that was quick and easy to use and maintain for mail, web and a few apps. Simple really. You don't need to be able to edit video in real-time while creating 3D animations in the background - that is not the requirement and therefore not the aim of the OS.

    No-one has nailed it yet and Google are having a pop at it. Why not sit back and see what happens? Apple achieved something similar with the iPhone, not the most powerful phone on the market but the one that most closely met the need. Google may actually create something good but either way, competition for the other OS' is good.

  9. Alain Moran

    guess what's in my pocket ;)

    "a lovely QWERTY keyboard for messaging, a screen that's good enough for browsing and a photo album, and small enough to fit in a jacket pocket."

    That would be the Sony Ericsson Xperia-X1 then.

  10. Anonymous Coward


    Too many OS' to be honest. Give me one good OS that the kids and I can play games on, but also allows me to do the odd bit of work at home, and I'll be happy. Right now, that's XP.. if Linux gets it's head out of it's bowels and starts supporting games a bit more readily, it'll take up faster. Till then, XP/latest-ms-piece-of-crud will be the dominant platform.

  11. yossarianuk

    The new overlords wont like talk like this.

    Tsk el-reg . Careful what you say they know/hear everything!

    I do take issue with your idea of Linux apps, I find the apps for video/music editing brilliant on Linux - any encoding is generally far faster in Linux than Windows (on the same hardware). Even games (yes - theres not lots) are generally faster in Linux - i do actually benchmark both systems - some games (COD,Civ4,etc) are actually faster in Wine than in real windows (on same hardware)

    ...Kompozer does a good job as a free dreamweaver suite. Gimp is very powerful once your used to it - I know a couple of designers who actually use Gimp for their work (and this is Gimp on Macs...). OpenOffice does everything I will ever need in an office suite.

    I do not (will never) need autocad / MS office / Quick books / Sage, etc so I am not missing anything,except the ability to play some games.

    As a grown up I consider games fun but the amount of games available is not going to influence my choice of O.S - Kids should keep to shiny Windows... Grown's ups should use a stable system that YOU can control.

    Hardware is generally also less of an issue on Linux nowadays than windows (most hardware does not require you to get a driver as they are built it to the kernel)

    Maybe we should wait to test our new overloads O.S before we judge it ?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    MSFT's ad campaign about Apple being expensive has been squeezing Apple laptops. With Google's push in Netbooks (and validation of it), Apple's OSX will be squeezed even further. Apple will do fine with it's iPhone, etc.

    Maybe iPhone and Android can win more and more in the consumer space. In the near term, I'm afraid enterprise will still be using MSFT.

    Of course with Google's tentacles keep extending, how long will they be treated as a do-no-evil "undergod" rather than a vicious competitor (or monopoly)? I don't see this as necessarily a bad thing for MSFT. Google is already under scrutiny by the Feds. And soon, the Feds and EU will move their attention away from MSFT.

  13. Josh Rhoderick

    Are you serious?

    Most people don't do heavy video or image editing on their computers anyway. Cloud-based computing is more than sufficient for 90% of those people who do nothing but use Facebook. If you think this form of computing is going nowhere, then you're just as short-sighted as those people who claimed that digital music was a fad.

    And Linux is just the damn kernel. Those apps you're whining about are part of a Linux-based desktop environment. They almost certainly will not be included with anything Google offers.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I want a proper computer

    To do proper computer things. If anything, this looks to me like an attempt to kill Linux by using Linux. If anything, Chrome looks to me to be little more than a way to move the iPhone/Android app store model to the desktop and I have little need for closed systems.

  15. Paul Coen

    Home users

    The "netbook" market doesn't yet exist - consumers are buying them as cheap notebooks. They want to be able to use Facebook, but they also want to be able to plug their Canon/Panasonic/Sony/whatever digital camera into it and run the camera maker's software. They want to be able to use a multi-function printer/scanner easily, etc.

    And software. Telling someone "Hey, stop using Photoshop Elements and use this thing called 'GIMP' instead" gets you funny looks. The stupid name is half of it, of course, a common problem with many open source packages.

  16. northern monkey
    Thumb Down

    @Mr Spoon

    "This is being based on Android...."

    Do tell us your source because AFAIK the only people who've said it's going to be based on android are commentards speculating. Google haven't said anything of the sort, though if they have do let us know!

  17. sam 16

    google arnt as bad as you think

    Googles company culture is weird in that its developers are obliged to spend part of thier week on "weird side projects". This has brought innovative stuff like streetview, or in fact nice online mapping full stop to the desktop.

    It is also worth noting that thier cloud stuff is still way better than anyone elses because it has been their core business for years to make it that way.

    Although when I first read this I thought "chrome running fullscreen on linux? give me ten minutes and a cross compiler".

    But in the context of the company I genuinly hope for something cool.

    Usually google make accademic research into something usable, so look in that direction...

  18. chew6acca

    Not so fast

    "There's certainly a gap in the market for new classes of devices, somewhere between a phone and a full-blown laptop. Pocket communicators with built-in connectivity, and a better keyboard than a phone, could be far preferable to any "converged" device on the market today, even the sainted iPhone.

    Think of the old Psion 3 or 5 pocket computer on steroids, offering a lovely QWERTY keyboard for messaging, a screen that's good enough for browsing and a photo album, and small enough to fit in a jacket pocket. Today's netBooks really don't have instant-on yet, nor an optimal UI - and in a pell-mell competitive market where margins are squeezed, they're getting bigger, heavier and more expensive."

    What about Tegra?

    Instant on, long battery life, full HD video, fits in your pocket, touch screen or qwerty, etc.

    - Google Chrome OS is the last piece of the puzzle - "an optimal UI".

    1 year from now....

  19. JohnA 1

    uh.. They said that about the iPhone

    Linux is just a poor windows clone.. It will never be successful (on the desktop) because it will never be windows. However, if google are any way serious, they have the image and clout to redefine the desktop (i.e. get rid of it) and how people interact with their computers. They could end up being a threat to Microsoft in ways that Linux never can.

  20. Billy 8

    I think you overestimate...

    .. what a very large number of people do with computers these days. A very large proportion of the people I know use their computer (usually a cheap laptop) to connect to the net (usually with a dongle), read their myspace/facebook/hotmail, look at a couple of websites, maybe watch a youtube video or two. Then they switch it off and go do something else.

    I think we're getting into a very mature market where "pro's" buy the tools they need (dual quad-core, photoshop, lightroom, whatever) and most people buy what's cheap and "good enough". Most people aren't F1 racing drivers and are quite happy with a car that starts first time, lets them drive to tesco and get their shopping home. Then they stop thinking about their car. Most people don't buy a Canon 1Ds with ten L-Series lenses and an Elinchrom rig - they point their mobile phone at their mates and press "click". Those who really need that kind of kit will seek it out and pay the extra costs - but for the majority? They don't need it and don't really care.

    I'm old enough to remember "ZOMG! You've got a computer in your own house!!!!!1111" and people being amazed by '10 PRINT "Hello! "; GOTO 10'. Part of me is sad that those days are gone. But gone they are...

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    A good review, points well made...

    ... but (and I guess it may be what I hope for) the development of a ubiquitous device on par with a mobile phone.

    The sort of computer that you trade in every couple of years aimed at "person in the street".

    Whether it is a wi-fi'd dumb terminal with minimal offline functionality or better?

    My fear is that it will be a grey box with brand logo applied after manufacture.

  22. Hetz Ben Hamo

    Did you really read the blog post?

    1. You can't run GIMP because.. there won't be X/X11/Xorg. Google is going their way with "a new windowing system", so unless someone will port GTK+, tons of other packages which rely on X, there won't be GIMP.

    2. Have you ever tried pixlr? (, you can do tons of stuff with it and it's much better then GIMP (IMHO). All you need is flash and it's much better then Adobe gives you.

    3. Google wants to integrate some of their tech into their OS, namely Gears, O3D, Native Client etc. They don't want to compete with Ubuntu/Fedora/Pick you distro, they're building something which will leverage their tech with the hardware of the Netbook.

    4. I really suggest to you to look into Dave Perry's GaiKai demo, specially the last part (where he shows Photoshop CS4 running) and think about that technology combined with Chrome and Netbook..

  23. Leo Maxwell

    I'm no programmer....

    But Linux has been able to handle any Computer based task I need for the last 4 years or so, apart from legacy MS based apps at work- which we are slowly reducing our dependence on.

    The author is just missing the point - the biggest problem with netbooks is that the OSes used are not sufficiently optimised for the job, XPhome is pants on them too, 7 might just be usable, if MS doesn't cripple it too much, but they were never meant to be cheap PCs.

    And the Smartpads (which Google is probably aiming for) will be more powerful, more versatile,and more portable - but they probably won't use Intel processors, so no Windows.

    Oh, and I use the Gimp, 2.6.6 was released a couple of months ago. Scribus is an excellent tool if you understand page layout (no Publisher fans), not really used Inkscape, so can't comment, but I'm going to try it with my new Graphics tablet (yes, it works with Linux).

    I don't have a spare £1000 for the Adobe suite, and I don't use pirated software, so it is totally irrelevant to the argument.

    Nor do I play games, but if I did, I would probably buy a console.

  24. zonky

    Surely the point is that Google OS will support ARM

    This could be the killer here- with ARM support, this could get these netbooks into the market place, and seriously hurt Microsoft, if they can deliver on battery life /performance.

  25. AceRimmer

    @Alain Moran - guess what's in my pocket ;)

    You beat me to it!

    Plus I can choose whichever interface suits my mood:


    PointUI home 2

    or Touch Flow 3d

  26. Anonymous Coward

    Very good article

    And the people who keep wheeling out the claim, "I'd suggest that Linux can do significantly more than what 80% of the population use their computers for though." I'm sorry, but that just plain ordinary BULLSHIT.

    The ordinary user wants to play games; they want to edit documents that they've brought home from work (and whilst OpenOffice is very similar to Office in a lot of basic features it isn't 100% compatible - and therefore useless for that really complex budget spreadsheet they've been working on night and day). They want to edit pictures, and cut the fluff from that video of the kids they've just made. They also want to connect over the VPN to work using the Windows software that work have authorised them to connect to work with.

    The vast majority of people don't want to just browse the internet and get their mail. That's why Netbooks only started working when they threw away the crap SSD drives and useless OS and started putting proper hard drives and Windows XP on them.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Leo Maxwell

    "Oh, and I use the Gimp, 2.6.6 was released a couple of months ago."

    Yes. I'm stuck on 2.4.7 as the 2.6 series has gone down the toilet in terms. I have to use Krita for working with my RAW format images and it is a dog-slow memory hog (and ugly to boot).

    "Scribus is an excellent tool if you understand page layout" As it was done in 1902. If I wanted to experience QuarkXpress levels of user friendliness I'd ask a Met officer where de white women are at.

    "Not really used Inkscape, so can't comment, but I'm going to try it with my new Graphics tablet (yes, it works with Linux)." It works with my graphics table and works well, but is is "just" a very good vector art package with some font-handling issues. I like it. But I know that my graphic artist friends would find it underpowered at the moment.

    There's a lot of good software on Linux and, as I said, it covers most people's needs (better than "cloud computing" which is just the same old Big Iron model that's failed so often with yet another paint job), but at the high end the truth is that paying developers gets the work done faster when you have really complex problems. Usually, that is; Vista clearly demonstrates that it's no guarantee of success.

  28. Jim 59

    Vanity OS

    I agree with your gist on the Google OS. Sounds like a bit of a non-event, destined to go the same way perhaps as google apps, google calendar and so on. However these comments are a festival of ignorance:

    "Linux is a fine OS until you get to the applications - ah, yes... GIMP - and integration with the real-world, doing stuff your Mum needs to do."

    Yes, Linux has thousands of free apps installable at the click of a mouse. It is therefore not difficult to pick an underdeveloped one. And no, my mum does not need to do advanced image manipulation, does anyone's?

    "Linux consistently fails to pass the consumer test."

    Linux has not failed with the consumer. It has never been tried by the consumer because Windows is factory integrated on every PC. The Wintel duopoly will ensure this remains so, and awful efforts like Vista will continue to make the public hate their PCs.

  29. iamapizza

    y so srs?

    Ah, the speculation and 'hope' in this page of comments is rife with fanaticism.

    This article does make sense. Forget about the affronts to Linux/Windows/GOS in this article, look at the points being made. Underneath, it is going to be Linux. It's Linux. End of. To call it G's very own is bordering on fanboyism.

    However, what I think was missed in the article is that this new OS is aimed at netbooks - so it can be made quick, lightweight, and fast to update your facebook profile, because that's about all that you'd use a netbook for. You won't use a netbook for most of your apps. For that, you'll have a regular laptop or a PC. If all you're going to do is browse, surf, or tell the world that you're on a netbook because you have not much else to do, you'll get a Mac or a GNetbook.

  30. J 3


    AC: "if Linux gets it's head out of it's bowels and starts supporting games a bit more readily, it'll take up faster."

    If AC gets his (I suppose) head out of his bowels, he will notice it's actually the other way around. Games have to be made for an OS, not an OS modified to support them (and while emulation or whatever it is Wine does helps, it's allegedly still not the same, but I haven't tried). One would think someone reading El Reg would know that, but wonders never cease.

    Anyway, does anyone still play sophisticated games (not solitaire or Tetris, mind) on computers anymore? From what one hears here, I'd say so, but I don't know really.

    If I played games I'd buy a console.

  31. Dave Ashe
    Thumb Down

    I will go out and buy 10 google machines

    Just to prove you wrong :-)

    Running code over the network is the future, google is going in the correct direction

  32. Mark Roddis

    Lots of missed points

    But any so called netbook OS does not need to run applications (be they MS or Linux in origin).

    Surely we are talking about a bare metal browser. A browser that that boots straight up with no under lying OS to speak off?

    And if this is the case then the the browser itself, be it from Google or Microsoft or Opera or whoever does not matter.

    So maybe this new OS (or whatever you want to call it) is closer to being an embedded operating system (like WinCE) because in this light weight user world, that is all that is needed


    Sitting here in a hotel room in Reading connected by 3G I can say for sure that the world is not yet ready for 100% cloud based apps if this is the best speed Vodafone can manage out here in the sticks next to the train station.

  33. Mr Blonde

    It's a trap!!!

    Google is sailing up Microsofts blind side. When the desktop is the browser most users will be happy doing mail, facebook, myspace, twittering and what not....

    Remember Picasa and YouTube!!! Google will not be gimping around as the astrotards so merrily maintain.

  34. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

    Sorry, can you say again please... I must have dozed off when you started wanking off over Linux.

    Yeah so... you were saying that I can play Fallout 3 under Linux right? Sorry... my apologies, not Fallout 3, because of course that's a modern game that I don't have to spend 4 hours compiling software libraries for right? Ok, you must have meant Photoshop Elements because that came pre-installed on my Windows PC and I'm familiar with the interface, so I'm presuming that it must work right out of the box under Linux yes? Errr... what do you mean no? No Photoshop elements? You're joking right? Ok, and what's all this about having to compile binaries, mount a filesystem (I'm guessing that's all Linux geeks ever get to mount) and learn command lines like GREP AWK FUK -9 | $$"! >> CHMOD +755 or whatever the fuck, just to get my graphical environment to work. Sod that.

    Anyway, this Google thing... fine, until you're whole O/S environment and productivity is held to ransom by your ISP during peak usage.

  35. Mad Hacker

    Thou Dost Contradict Too Much, Methinks

    You start out saying.

    There's certainly a gap in the market for new classes of devices, somewhere between a phone and a full-blown laptop. Pocket communicators with built-in connectivity, and a better keyboard than a phone, could be far preferable to any "converged" device on the market today, even the sainted iPhone.

    Then you say:

    The idea of a desktop running a thin OS served by the cloud is fine - until you want to do image processing, or make music or videos. You do realise [sic] there's more to a PC than updating your Facebook profile, right? <snip> Get back to me when there's real-time video scrubbing, rendering or multiple levels of Undo.

    Whoa there Andrew! You just contradicted yourself. The second paragraph is describing a full blown laptop (if editing videos isn't intense enough to relegate you to a full size laptop, then what tasks, pray tell, did you have in mind that would justify a "full-blown laptop?")

  36. jpennycook

    We had instant-on in the past

    "Today's netBooks really don't have instant-on yet, nor an optimal UI - and in a pell-mell competitive market where margins are squeezed, they're getting bigger, heavier and more expensive."

    The Psion NetBook(R) had instant-on, and a choice of three operating systems (so lots of UIs)...

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Paul Coen

    'And software. Telling someone "Hey, stop using Photoshop Elements and use this thing called 'GIMP' instead" gets you funny looks. The stupid name is half of it, of course, a common problem with many open source packages.'

    One reason not to use GIMP for photographs is that it is still limited to 8-bit TIFF. After finally getting photographers to start using RAW, it'd be a huge backward step to ask them to start using an inferior piece of software.

    And the name's shite as well.

  38. jim 45

    not again

    Another 'endless beta' from Google, that will perpetually lack critical features and eventually be abandoned.

  39. Charles Manning

    @Slow witted wanker doser

    You're quite right that grep awk fuk -9 does hinder the uptake of Linux. However that shit can be readily wrapped into something hidden from the user. That is something that is particularly easy to do if distros are custom rolled for netbooks etc. Look at Android phones. They run on Linux and you don't need to grep or awk them.

    Something like Android on a netbook could be great. That does everything most people need most of the time.

    The only thing that keeps Windows a "must have" in the household are games. Linux can do everything else.

    To make netbooks a reality, we need to dump x86 and move to ARM. That is possible with Linux but not XP.

  40. John 137

    @Dave Ashe

    Running code over the network is the future? It's also the past. You can talk about running the code remotely and accessing it locally, or fetching the code from a remote server and executing it locally; both have been done for decades. All the way back to the first timesharing system in the first case.

  41. This post has been deleted by its author

  42. GrantB

    That Psion

    that was so good; did it run Photoshop?

    Like most people I know, I have several computers; a desktop at home with a largish screen, a work laptop and considering buying a lightweight netbook or iPhone. On the work machine I have Photoshop Elements; though judging by sales, you would assume only about 1-2% of the market would have that. In-fact if you look at other Windows only applications; somebody mentioned Fallout 3, I would guess that less than 1% of people bother with highend gaming; that won't run on my old XP laptop either.

    In fact the classic 80/20 (or is that 90/10?) rule applies; 90% of the time, a netbook or iPhone would give me what I need. For the other times, a PS3 or my other computers do it.

    There is always a cost/benefit; you focus on a small irrelevant (to most people/most of the time) thing like the ability to run Photoshop (though it will run Picasa no doubt) yet overlook the benefits of a smaller, kinder and faster Linux supported by Google. My mother has installed no purchased software since she brought her XP machine; but has had to worry & pay people to deal with virus. She did not backup photos or emails, so after a factory restore lost everything. A Google machine that stored her photo's, emails and contacts online makes so much more sense.

    Finally, the thing that should worry MS is that within 2 years, the iPhone already has more applications and developer support than Windows Mobile ever had. Applications may not be such an issue holding people back from using a Chrome based netbook anymore.

  43. Paul Louth
    Thumb Up

    At last

    Great piece. Finally some sanity in between the mania.

  44. Peter 39


    The move will certainly be talked up by Microsoft as evidence of competition on the desktop. It's not really as MS has long-since leveraged its Windows monopoly into corporate apps (Word/Excel/Powerpoint and most importantly, the Exchange family) and droids (many IT staff).

    But we're missing the point here, which is that the OS space is splitting. MS keeps trying to tell us that Windows is the only solution, and it is not. The solution for heavy local processing is not necessarily the same as that for lightweight netbooks, or phones etc. Many posts implicitly acknowledge this but others have clearly missed it. This is a game-changer.

    Google has the smarts and the deep pockets to see that this is a first-class system. I'm sure it will be.

  45. Stephen Bungay


    "Linux is just a poor windows clone.. It will never be successful (on the desktop) because it will never be windows"

    JohnA makes the classic mistake of confusing the graphical environment with the underlying Operating System, while going on to say "It (Linux) will never be successful" is an indication that he is in a state of denial. JohnA is correct about one thing though; Linux will never be Windows, which is good because it would be a crying shame to ruin it.

    Linux is not entering the desktop market, its already there. As Windows users jump-ship I install on average one or two Linux desktops a week. One might scoff and say "whats one or two desktops a week"? The one who says this forgets that a short twelve months ago that number might have been one a month. If the trend continues it will soon be one per day.

    Those who abandon Windows are aware that Vista was new just 30 or so months ago and don't want to buy Windows 7. They know that Windows 8 is probably just another 30 months after that and the expense is begining to be seen as throwing good money after bad. Businesses can't justify the expense of replacing XP with 7 as they see no tangible long-term benefit, only long-term expense. They know that going 100% Linux is not an option because they might rely on applications for which there is (as yet) no Linux equivalent, but since they still have their XP license they bridge the gap by using virtual machines where needed.

    For the most part, these brave-souls, having freed themselves from their chains, enjoy no longer being bothered by the slate of subscription-ware that anti-virus applications have become. No longer do they need to pay people like me to come and clean the malware off their computers. They write their documents on their word-processors, crunch numbers on their spreadsheets, design marketing pieces, produce PDF and EPS files for graphic-artists, surf the net, schedule meetings, manage contacts, sync their smart-phones, send and receive email, write and distribute newsletters, and all the other things that they used to do with Windows. They learn to avoid traps like Lexmark, Canon, and Kodak printers and to ignore the 'installation CDs' that come with new routers or a new ISP connection.

    There are many desktops to convert, and by installing Linux I'm (eventually) going to put myself out of the "window-cleaning" business and into the data-migration business, which is fine by me. I might even get back into the software writing business, authoring some of those missing Linux equivalents mentioned earlier on.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pithy title required.

    From article "will simply notch up another failure for Linux" Yes Linux is a failure on the "blue screen machines". But the evil that is Linux has managed to slither its menace around the PC and silently embed its self in things like mobile phones, consumers devices like set top boxes and even the servers that PC's like to request their daily dose of porn from. According to netcraft, is run on a Linux system.

    Linux is not a desktop OS in the sense that most people see. But it is not a failure in other computing areas and in some, like supercomputers, enjoys the type of market share MS has on the virus laden desktop.

  47. A. F. Fero

    Summer of Code

    Google has been sponsoring FOSS development for years. I have no idea why they choose to do it, but I don't have to worry its all GPL stuff.

    KDE including KOffice, Gnome, X, Wine etc., have all benefited from this.

    They have been watching it all for a long time and know quite a bit about the kernel IIRC.

    Hardware manufacturers sell Google a lot of kit, so it will be a difficult customer to kiss off, if that's what's happened elsewhere

    If the competition remains an illusion then there is still no competition and that isn't Google's problem. Google seem to (what do I know?) tread carefully with their main market to defend against the accusations of anti-competitive activity that er, "others" continually insinuate.

    It could be that they're just having a bubble because they've got loads of money and annoying people that try and annoy them is something that only costs loose change

    Thing is, it's not our money and it can't do any harm. May even turn out to be Canonical on steroids. ((open)SUSE since 1998, myself)

    Rory Cellan-Jones had just finished off his Radio 4 piece with "ah but Windows 7 will be out quite soon" but he seems to miss the point - Microsoft _need_ to both sell Windows 7 and for it to be not that great else they won't be able to sell you Windows 8 - and FOSS is given away.

    Eventually market dynamics will kick-in, it sort of happened with the unplanned extension of Windows XP sell-by-date and reduction in price.

    Steve Ballmer was right FOSS is a cancer - in that it is very difficult to control its growth or once you think you've "sorted" it, to know whether or where it's going to pop out next.

    For parallels, look at the once mighty Kodak. Gone are the days when everywhere you looked it was yellow.


  48. yossarianuk

    El-Reg : funded by M.S?

    How much do they pay you el reg ? Thats the only explanation you can be so against a product you have no idea what it will be ....

    Among the FOSS world there has been a mixture of thinking that Google is the saviour to being more of a threat than MS ever could be.

    The people who believe that Google are trying to split Linux/Foss are mad - Google contribute lots to various Linux projects - Linus himself has said that google employees contribute a large amount of code to the kernel - this project will I am sure see google contribute even more.

    Google built their business around Linux and continue to do so - they need a successful Linux. harming the community will harm them.

    I imagine hardware support will increase (in many way it is far better than any version of Windows anyway) and I await to see what their new UI will be like - I imagine Google will do a good job but will wait till I see it before I judge.....

    Many El-reg is scared of the brave new world awaiting us ....

  49. Jon 52

    MS out then

    The way I see it;

    GoogOS - home users who just web, email and write the odd document.

    MS - In the office

    Macs - coloured pencil/video editors

    Serious Gamers will use Xbox/PS3 as these are almost PCs now anyway.

  50. Dibbles
    Thumb Up

    Like it!

    Thank f@*& for the Reg; I had been reduced to something approaching incadescent rage at TechCrunch et al's attempt at impartial journalism on the 'Chrome OS'...


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