Internet Browsers are the New Operating System
We all have a rhyme and rhythm when it comes to our relationships with our computers. For me, I power on my laptop, wait for it to load. I hit gnome-do. Press "F" and "enter" to load Firefox. Gnome-do again, and press "P" for Pidgin. and I am good to go!
On a typical day, this is all I need. To those that may be a bit confused, I am running on GNU/Linux specifically Ubuntu 9.10. That brings me to my next point. Operating system. A few years ago, operating systems (OS) use to be the deciding factor in which computers you buy. Today, the importance of operating systems is in decline and I will prove it.
Stay with me as I grab a cup of coffee. You might want to stick around. I got some food for thought.
The average user spends most of his/her time online while using a computer. What I do is not uncommon. Most of you guys do the same thing. You power on your computer, open an internet browser, and possibly an IM client. People go through their beat. They check their emails, youtube subscription, facebook, myspace, mygalaxy, faceencylopedia. Whatever. The point is most people spend their computing time online.
This does a few things to operating systems. It negates the importance of having one. At least, having brand loyalty towards one. While we can argue about OS all day, I think we all can agree the most importance aspect is the browsing experience.
The Browser Wars
The browser wars have been going on for a long time. One of the original battles occurs between Netscape and Internet Explorer. Microsoft edged ahead of Netscape by bundling their Windows OS with IE and the web catered support towards it.
Today, there are many browsers available. To name a few, Microsoft still has IE, Apple has Safari on their Macs, There is Opera, Google has Chrome, and Mozilla has the very popular Firefox.
All of these browsers hope to deliver the best online user experience.
I see the browser that allows the most control to the user winning, or at least, leading the war. When Firefox emerged, it spread like wildfire. The sudden popularity of Firefox was significant for a number of reasons. Users demanded a better internet experience. They were sick of the Netscape, IE "option" offered to them.
This desire for freedom and control is not surprising. For common folks, the option of Windows XP or Windows Vista did the same thing. It pushed people away desiring a better option. Mac OSX was that option. For some, Ubuntu was the answer.
What ever went on, it is clear that some things in real life resonate in the computer world. You cannot control people, only influence them. This is why I see Google's Chrome and Chrome OS as a serious contender in the future and how we work with computers.
Google is Smart
Google reminds me alot of myself. Very smart and very calculating. Google is able to see things other people can't. Google is able to look at the big picture and use synthesis thinking.
Those who don't already know, Google is in the works of releasing their own version of an operating system. It is going to be called Chrome OS.
Google's Chrome OS is based on Linux but combines the web and OS into a seamless package. You will interact with Chrome OS like a web browser, opening "programs" online. Your files will be saved online on "clouds". They are going to have to work hard to sell that idea. The premise of this "cloud computing" is to have all of your files saved on Google's servers. Convenience will be the selling point. Imaging going to an office meeting and leaving your powerpoint file at home. No problem! Just log into your Google account and retrieve it through Google's cloud. Neat right?
Everything comes with a catch. By saving files and folders on Google's servers, you are trusting them with your valuable information. You basically have to agree and trust them not to do anything with these files.
Blurring the Lines of Browser and OS
Who is to say what will happen in the future? Certainly I can't. I'm not psychic but I am definitely smart enough to see what's going on.
Trust is a big issue with consumers. Trust is the reason why Microsoft is in a decline. Trust is the reason I see Microsoft's Silverlight failing. Trust is the reason why we are buying more Macs. Which company has the most trust? I would say Google don't you think?
By trying to blur the lines between browser and OS, I think Google is taking a gamble. They are hoping more people buy into cloud computers. Recent attacks on Amazons EC2 Cloud has given cloud computers bad press. They will have to clean up this image before people start trusting them.
Separating of Browser and OS
The supreme court said, "There must be a separation of church and state." I say browser and OS should stay separate also.
Companies will always have their best interest in mind. Those that are trusted the most tend to have nothing to gain. The Firefox had no money to gain. Ubuntu is free. These things are popular because they provide a service for free. In return, we give praise and trust. Imagine Google ads on the side of your computer. Imagine, every file you save on Chrome OS "inspected" or "cached" by Google in order to give you the best "search results." Yeah right.
Privacy is a valuable thing. In the past, privacy on the internet was not a big deal. When people started losing their jobs for the images or stuff they posted on Facebook, people started to think twice.
By separating browser and OS, we create a physical barrier that protects our privacy. We save files on our hard drives. We share them when we feel like it. There will always be compromise. Convenience will be the selling point.
Some say, in this day and age, no one has privacy. Cameras are watching you when you walk down the street. All of your phone conversations are saved. If I had said this 10 years ago, you'd all think I was crazy. Funny how that tune has changed.
Call me crazy. Privacy is a popular idea. This is why I believe browser and OS should be separated.
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