Wednesday, July 08, 2009


Google is entering the OS market -- code available later this year, appearing on a new netbook near you next year. For obvious reasons, the news puts me in a state somewhat short of orgasm but definitely beyond mere arousal.

I've been keeping one lazy eye on development of the Crunchpad, a piece of on-the-way hardware.

The Crunchpad is a touchscreen machine -- light, thin and inexpensive (it's supposed to sell for less than $300). Its default is a "virtual" onscreen keyboard, but it will supposedly be able to accommodate the real thing via USB. That's a personal hard line for me -- I can live with no mouse if necessary and the virtual keyboard sounds nice for being out and about, but I'm gonna need physical keys for everyday home use. I type a lot.

Forget installing apps to a hard drive; the Crunchpad is designed for people whose computer activity is 100% web-focused. If you want apps, you'll have to find them in the cloud (and for the most part, they're there to find). I believe it has a small built-in flash drive for caching and data storage, a la a netbook. Originally, the idea was that it would boot directly into Firefox (and perhaps include Skype), running over a Linux kernel ... and that would be it.

Now things seem to have shifted: "This is a Linux based operating system and a Webkit based browser." Firefox uses the Gecko layout engine. Chrome uses Webkit. Do I hear wedding bells?

I've been looking to move into a new machine for awhile now, but not out of necessity: I'm able to do everything I really need to do on my "obsolete" machine. Running a very light OS (Puppy Linux) even lets me do it fast. I'm not sure I'll fall for the Crunchpad, but something like it sounds about right and I'm willing to wait for the right combination of low price, portability and an OS that doesn't hog all the machine's resources for no good reason.

Update, 07/08/09: Dvorak thinks that Google is bluffing and that the whole point is to discommode Microsoft. He thinks that Android will be the "real" Google OS. He bases this conjecture mainly on the fact that Google usually doesn't "announce early."

I think he's wrong. This isn't about kicking Windows 7 in the shins to hold some prospective market share for Android. It's about convincing people that the Era of the Everything + Kitchen Sink OS is over, that both Linux and "the cloud" are ready for prime time (hey, Google says so!), and that consumers should kick back for a few months, save their money instead of giving it to Bill Gates, and await Something Shiny Coming Real Soon Now For FREE FREE FREE. Remember, Google is talking about the new OS being available pre-loaded on new machines next year ... they're releasing the code into the wild later this year. "Early adopters" will hopefully be running it (and raving about it) by Christmas.

Update, 07/10/09: Becky C. doesn't trust Google. I'm pretty sure this means she also hates America and likes to spend her evenings kidnapping puppies, stuffing them in sacks and drowning them. Or something like that.

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