Google announced yesterday on its blog the launching of a "new OS", on the netbook market segment. The name of this Android bigger brother is Google Chrome OS. I could not ignore this, as it touches some of my favourite topics: computers, software, gaming and also economics.
But first a couple of comments: Google clearly aims at Microsoft quasi monopoly (although on the netbook segment it is rather a duopoly with Apple Mac OSX). The blog post alludes to MS' recurrent problems with malware and other viruses. It is also a move towards externalizing most applications. Google Chrome OS (Chrome is already the name of its home made browser) is clearly described as browser centered. For a netbook, this is quite logical, but it is also a departure from both the bloated multi-application route taken by Microsoft and from the overpowered choice of Apple.
As a note, some comments have pointed that the Google announcement seems to ignore completely Apple relatively recent successes, particularly in this segment. I doubt this is due to ignorance or despise. But Google is not really aiming at the same range of customers. Apple users are early adopters, who are finding price an irrelevant matter, and who will not only use office applications and communication devices. They are also Photoshop users, graphic designers, and so on... In other words, they are the (very) high end part of the market segment, completely at the opposite of the obvious target of Google: the lowest part of this segment. Google is going for a budget OS.
Like Apple though, Google has chosen a Unix based system. But of course, like with Android, the choice is also one for open source software and Linux kernel. The window manager will be brand new and (although this has not been announced by Google) one can expect this window manager to be completely integrated with Chrome and maybe Google Apps. This reminds me a bit of the old Nautilus system on Gnome. But maybe I am wrong and both pieces of software will be clearly separated...
As for the success of such an endeavor, I can only speculate. But there are basics in marketing as well as in the computer world that can't be ignored. The computer market is driven (in terms of innovation acceptance) by two main engines: the business/company customers and the gamer community. As a gamer and an employee, it seems obvious to me that Google is aiming at the business market only. The future will tell if that's a good approach. For myself, I will stick with my unreliable and buggy Vista for the time being. Until Google convinces me (and graphic card makers and game studios) that its OS can also perform for graphic intensive applications, I see no reason to switch.