back to article Google reinvents network computing

Google has launched itself into the network computing debate by announcing its own operating system, proposing that the browser is the platform and the network is the computer. We've been here before, several times, most notably during the first dot com boom, when Netscape (the first commercial browser developer) was seriously …


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  1. censored

    And on the day that Ofcom published the lack of 3G

    Until there's a ubiquitous, fast, reliable wireless network, then this really taking off for most users is a pipe-dream.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Android proved that Google are obviously not adverse to involving java in an OS

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Only solution is to be ...

    ... populist?

    There is also the Windows 95 effect that captures the imagination of the public of the time, for the time.

    On the other hand it might just be any other netbook with any other OS ('nix or whatever) and merely a rebranded grey box?

    None the less, it looks as if it is going to be an interesting time.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Seriously lacking an actual selling point

    When this is available and you go to buy a pc of some kind, you'll probably have a choice of windows, linux or chrome. To make it fair, let's discount windows as it adds extra cost.

    Both will run a browser, and run exactly the same web-based apps, at exactly the same speed.

    The chrome box will boot faster, and in theory it'll be more secure as there's going to be less surface area to attack.

    The linux box on the other hand will run native apps. I.e. the same as the web apps, but faster and more powerful, and not prone to network hiccups. The only downside really is longer boot times. So why would anyone choose this? Perhaps for PCs that ONLY run a browser?

  5. Sebastian Brosig

    Google & Oracle pitched against Mictosoft?

    My bet is: invest in a Redmond chair factory. Business prospects are shining!

    (mine's the one with the /. memes printed on)

  6. Stu

    Will I... able to install ChromeOS onto a VM in Hyper-V?

    Not quite what the big G had in mind, but I'd do all my browsing in it!


    Yeah, beers icon. Get em in.

  7. Chris Thomas Alpha

    Sounds like the crunchpad

    But with a different browser.

    I mean, it boots straight into the browser and basically, thats your lot, sounds like someone just stole crunchpads idea and just intends on writing new software for it.

    well bugger me, since it's all done using standards supporting web browsers, then I guess it'll run unmodified on the crunchpad too

  8. Bill Ray (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Java vs AJAX

    I flatter myself that I'm moderately well versed in both Java and AJAX, but the specific functionality to which I was referring was JavaScript, which,along with HTML 5, will happily do most of the things that the AWT made possible - though nothing comparable to the joys of the GridBagPanel.

    I'm a massive fan of Java (and have written a couple of books on the subject), but even I have to admit that, these days, JavaScript is a platform and Java applets embedded in browsers are something of a rarity.

    Maybe with Oracle we'll see a return of Java in browsers - I'd like that, for old time's sake, but I suspect I'm in a minority.


  9. Flybert

    inadequate reporting El Reg

    did not El Reg just have an article regarding browsers .. where the linked chart(s) showed Chrome having something between 0 > maybe 3% of the browser market ? ... just suggesting GOOG might want to have Chrome exposed a *bit* better before moving to an "OS"

    and it's not an "OS" anyway .. a bit more research finds that "ChromeOS" will "run on top of Linux Operating System" .. sounds more like a fancy plug-in to Linux(?)

  10. Bill Ray (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: This statement needs a footnote or something

    My point is that what used to need a Java applet can now be done in Javascript, with some XML (HTML 5) to provide the layout and return path - Java applets just aren't useful any more.

    Regarding version 1.7 of Java: I was thinking of the first version of Java, prior to J2SE and it's ilk, prior to beans and swing, so should (of course) have referred to 1.1.7. I've fixed that in the piece and hopefully that makes things a little clearer.


  11. Anonymous Coward

    ...and again

    Dear Bill,

    I remember telling you quite some years ago that I didn't think networking computing would take off (quite a heated conversation as I recall - but that'll be my fault - and EGA plugs did only have 9 pins!!!). In the long run I didn't believe it had anything to do with network reliability but more to do with people not trusting all of their data to not be on some device that they could touch and believe they had entire control of. After all if it's in your hands, only you have access to it, right ? I know people will continue to use online applications and data storage but they'll always want somewhere to keep those dodgy vids'n'pics, that they believe others won't get access to. Not to mention the larger storage concerns of film and music collections.

    There are some people who will always try to keep all of their data online, but every time there is a data loss/theft/leak/corruption, there will be at least ten times as many people to say "told you so".

    I really do wish Google could have come up with something a little more competitive and likely to succeed like a really slick and properly easy to use linux distro; oh wait, Apple have already tried that.

  12. IndianaJ

    AJAX ain't all that

    Until JavaScript supports multiple threads, AJAX isn't going to solve some of the fundamental issues with web based apps at the moment. The number of failures I get in Mafia Wars is staggering. Maybe it's badly written, but heavy reliance on AJAX, in my experience, doesn't work well.

    The good news being that the Chrome browser does at least have a seperate thread for JavaScript per tab. Maybe this could pave the way to multi threaded JavaScript? If so, count me in. I'm along for the ride.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Who's the market here?

    Who are the *real* users here? Are the users and the customers the same people?

    90%+ of broadband users (the ones at home not on the road) could perfectly adequately do their surfing emailing etc on something without Windows installed locally.

    90%+ of business desktops could perfectly adequately do their surfing emailing etc on something without Windows installed locally.

    Google have already persuaded Virgin Broadband to use Gmail. That's an interesting start.

    Maybe the next generation mega ISP deals will include a "free" Windowless client as well as a free wireless router. That would probably pay for itself in weeks in reduced support costs at mass market ISPs (assuming mass market ISPs actually offer any support ;)).

    What do you need in a call centre that couldn't better be done on a Windowless box? In a shop? In fact, in most offices, factories, homes, etc. It's only geeks that really use their PCs, and even then most of them don't *really* use them.

    Of course, there are lots of people and lots of companies whose incomes depend on the continued success of the MS ecosystem, and they will come up with lots of reasons why this latest move from Google doesn't make sense.

    But sensible business people will be asking what makes sense for their business in the never ending cycle of Windows software upgrades and the mandatory three year desktop and server upgrade cycles. And if today's IT department can't come up with a good cost-benefit justification, whereas some Google-backed upstart offering "NC-II in the cloud" has a good set of Powerpoints, what will happen?

    MS shot themselves in the foot with Vista; a mistake on that scale, followed by a refusal to correct it quickly, shows they've lost the plot. Same with Office 2007. They're surviving not because of the quality of their products but because of their historic ability to "do the deal".

    Find the right deal, and things will change. Unlike any other previous player in the Linux/NC market, Google has everything it needs to "do the deal" (except maybe the technology, and that probably doesn't matter, they can make it or buy it).

  14. Herbert Meyer

    minor point from announcement

    This seems to be the only technically literate article so far on ChromeOS.

    My reading of the announcement saw very short boot times - a few seconds. That says to me the OS is in ROM, more like a linuxBIOS or coreboot (new name), than a linux booted from mag or SS disk. Since the BIOS roms on recent systems are flash, shouldn't be too hard to do.

  15. Charlie Clark Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Nice one

    Articles like this should always carry caveats (Google does have its fingers in an awful lot of pies) but the article focusses on the irony of the java to javascript shift.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Couple of things...

    1. Java without an OS *is* entirely possible, it's already been done. Just look at the Squawk project running on the Sun SPOTs and other small devices.

    2. Networks may be "more reliable" (although I'd seriously question that statement from anecdotal experience), but until someone figures out a way round Deutsch's fallacies of distributed computing (and at the same time changes the laws of physics), cloud computing, SaaS and all the other recent marketing buzzword fueled ideas will be doomed to failure.

  17. iamapizza

    Misplaced comma and overlooking Google's faults

    >when pushed Sun, executives

    Please fix it, that misplaced comma is making me rock in my chair and hyperventilate.

    One thing that's being pushed by Google here is that 'the cloud' is your next OS or rather, everything should be online. The problem that many of us overlook regularly is that Google's services are not exactly reliable. The arcane behemoths (IBM, MS) that we so love to slander do a pretty good job in terms of stability for the most part, at least when compared to the web-model companies. But as Google has shown time and time again, it does suffer downtime, problems and what's worse is that there's this view that it's perfectly alright to offer no explanation for downtime. It needs stability before it starts doing this!

    Now fix that comma! I can't breathe.

  18. Stephen Channell
    Gates Halo

    Network computer already a great success!

    Success! is a rather odd comment, because Larry’s ‘vision’ could not have been more wrong.. but so successful that nobody thinks to mention it.. the Network Computer is a Citrix/Windows terminal.

    Back in the nineties PC software was installed by floppy at the desk; Win95 was new with TCP/IP only an option, networks ran NetWare and corporate-wide networks were more likely IBM SNA. The whole stack needed to change to get the Network Computer experience.. so it made some sense to start again.

    The concept has succeeded with Citrix, remote desktop & special terminal devices.. but failed because mega-powerful PC are the cheapest Terminal devices.. and few people need/want all the applications hosted remotely on a managed server.

    Google is right to focus on the engineering and targeting the niche

  19. tebiru


    "[Today] the operating systems that browsers run on were designed in an era where there was no web" claims the official release, which is clearly bollocks, but engaging bollocks none the less.


    I think this reaction is bollocks, the kind of transparent bollocks attempting to sound cynically cool.

    Windows - in its essential functionality, not its brass knobs - has barely moved an inch since the pre-web days, and my god does it show. Google seems to be offering something genuinely different - not to mention more suited to how we actually use our computers nowadays - to what we've had from Microsoft so far. The author does seem to recognise that - shame he didn't resist the quick, vain, meaningless cheap shot.

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