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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Google OS

Dear reader

I have shared with you my views on technology, operating systems and computing for awhile now. So here's my latest one.

I just read a column by Matt Hartley (a contributing writer to OS Weekly). The article discusses possible entrance by Google into OS space.

I wanted to respond on that opinion by my own. The issue of Google OS is being debated for as long as Google become an important part of internet culture. Many have predicted the appearance of Google's OS long time ago, but the thing never happened.


If Google OS is easy to create (just peak any Linux distro and create an additional "brand"), easy to maintain (the distro is already there and if you choose wisely, it is being frequently updated and bugfixed), easy to customize (it is Google after all using an open source application and it is a house full of open source developers), so why haven't this already happened?

Because Google doesn't need one. Just think about it. What Google's purpose is? World domination. What Google's business is? Selling ads. So how would OS integrate into this scheme?

Well, the thing is - it wouldn't. And the main reason for this is that an importance of any specific operating system is diminishing by the second as much of our computer life goes onto the net. In addition, diversity of mobile and small devices running uncommon local operating systems would render another desktop OS useless - and those devices are great for Google, as they allow users to view ads anywhere. And another reason - is the one I'm putting always as reason du jour for many Windows users stay in Windows - gamers would not use it because they won't have their favorite games there.

But besides any other reason, here's the million dollar question: why Google needs to have an operating system if it is not in operating system business?

And what's for sure, is that Ubuntu (Canonical) is very good by their own, without Google's money. And if you target only home users, I'm sure you will fail, as main OS business today is actually business users.

I prefer Google contributing money to a good cause instead.


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Dan Martin said...

Nothing about your post is mistaken, except that there is no advertisement-related reason for a Google OS. I think it's pretty simple, really. What is the default homepage of every Windows desktop? MSN. What is the default search engine of every Windows desktop? MSN Search.

Advertising is the model, and if Google can make a popular OS where the default search engine and homepage is Google rather than MSN, then this helps their advertising.

Alex said...


You're right.

But I think its much easier to "contract" some Linux vendors to have their distros to default to Google.

Or, instead, release Google pack for Linux and Mac OS X.

That would be much easier to maintain than full OS, wouldn't you think?

Dan Martin said...

Well, this is more my opinion based on experience. In the corporate world, and I think somewhat in the public world, operating systems named "Gentoo", "Ubuntu", or "Suse" make people making the purchasing decisions nervous. Even if that nervousness has no justification, it's still a problem.

Google (despite also being a funny name) is a recognized brand, and a powerful name in the current economic environment. I think if Google took Ubuntu or Debian, and rebranded it, and gave it some additional features, it could take off in ways Ubuntu probably can't.

That said, I think Google has a window of opportunity. Ubuntu is quickly starting to become a household name, and eventually may be as trusted a name as Google, at which time the brand value will be lost.

Alex said...


I see your point. I'm still not convinced.

I do work in business environment for a long time, and people who making decisions are mainly consider the support they will get and who is the vendor that will provide that support. Those people aren't really afraid of those funny words.

And regarding the other point - I believe, that when in few years web will be accessible worldwide (with WiMAX or whatever technology will get widespread) all the time, OS will loose its grounds. Everything will be done through browser or other application (evolved browser maybe?). In that case, I still don't see the point for Google OS.

But Google web apps - absolutely.

Menelkir said...

I see this video a time ago about google interests in haiku to be his official OS.

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