With the announcement late tonight that Google is set to release an operating system, the time has come to ask "Why can't we have it all?"
Everywhere in marketing you see the battle between Apple's OS X and its truly high-functioning stable of software offerings, vs. Microsoft's less-reliable OS on cheaper, but more robust hardware offerings (except the Power Mac); but yet nearly everyone I know really relies upon Google's offerings of GMail and Docs, Apps and Search to actually utilize information in a clean and "cloud" manner. When you look at the entrepreneurial community, hands-down Google rules because its stable is cheap, very functional, and highly-reliable.
The problems come, of course, when you look at other needs than simple computing, right? Ahem, maybe not...and Google seems poised to prove it. If they have really figured a way to close the gap between OS X and Windows 7 by presenting a wholly-integrated offering for desktop-to-cloud; well, both Apple and MS have a serious problem on their hands. Even Canonical, with their ambitious Ubuntu, has yet to really bridge this gap. However, Google has the advantage of the most massive data analysis and most seriously challenging (i.e. revolutionary) business model on the planet--enough so that they literally may have the ability to know exactly what we want, as we want it, and be able to deliver it the way we need it.
So far, Microsoft and Apple have focused so specifically on their past models of hardware and software that they seem to have taken the Goog for granted. Except, that is, in the way both companies have been playing catch-up in online-to-offline integration of their services. Both of the others talk a good game...but have you ever had to wait for iTunes to fully do its business, or for Outlook to catch up to your work? Its torture. I doubt anyone in Google even has the patience to accept the kind of black holes in time and space that both Apple and Microsoft seem to lay upon us as users as "necessary overhead" in their functionality.
No, not this time. If Google is taking their Apps, Docs, Gears, Talk, Gmail, and God knows what else out of "beta" it probably means the Borg (or the Goog, if you will) is coming to take over the world. Or, more specifically, the Goog is coming to take over our desktops and literally blow each of the other three major OS offerings out of the water. It isn't to say they won't have any problems...Chrome does crash now and then. That said, Windows 7 crashes way too often, and when OS X crashes, it takes a heck of a long time for it to heal; and you're not guaranteed to have your data intact when it finally comes back. Lastly, have you tried to recover files in ANY flavor of Linux? (If you can figure out how to do that, without an MIS degree.)
The idea that Apple, MS, and Canonical/Ubuntu have allowed Google to get this far without serious improvements in their own respective fights for our desktop is laughable. When you consider the kind of horsepower it takes under the hood to run either an Apple or an MS product without speed issues, and compare it to Ubuntu or Chrome, the difference is stunning. When you figure that Ubuntu should have been way more evolved by now, Linux should have grown up and spawned a better way to line up its functionality and quality with the prior mentions, stunning becomes embarrassing. As many strides have been made in interoperability, none are even close to a Google product.
Only one company right now really is proving that interoperability can come from a browser or cloud, and it is proving it by doing it every second of every day, and has been for more than 10 years since we first saw the pretty colored logo. Whether that translates into a real OS that real people can use without a robust Internet connection, we'll just have to see. If they succeed, the idea of a paid OS could be gone forever. It may come down to the business models that matter from here on out, and that's exactly how Googlenomics has taken over much of what the untrained eye sees in advertising, content production and distribution, data analysis, economic modeling, game theory, software-as-a-service, and yes...day-to-day word processing, email, chat, and soon phoning home.
Will Google finally break the OS/cloud barrier and just give us what we want? What do we want? I'm betting Google knows better than the other players in the market. However, I'm not about to give up my Skype or iTunes just because Google says so.