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Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google says Microsoft is guilty of torture. He says that using Windows is a tortuous experience.  (Source: Russian American Media)
Apparently everyone's favorite internet giant is stepping up rhetoric in the face of Chrome OS launch

Sergey Brin, an outspoken Russian-American computer scientist, gained fame and glory as one of Google Inc.'s (GOOG) "big three".  He co-founded the search firm with Larry Page, who recently took over for the departing Eric Schmidt at CEO.

In the wake of Google's unveil of Chrome OS (Operating System) PCs at its annual I/O developers conference, Mr. Brin unloaded on the world's leading operating systems maker, Microsoft Corp. (MSFT).

At a Chrome OS launch event he began friendly enough, stating, "I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with Windows. Windows 7 has some great security features."

From there, though, his critique of his competitor grew more pointed.  

"With Microsoft, and other operating system vendors, I think the complexity of managing your computer is really torturing users.  It's torturing everyone in this room. It's a flawed model fundamentally. Chromebooks are a new model that doesn't put the burden of managing the computer on yourself."

Mr. Brin's rhetoric seems more than a little confusing and contradictory.

He does get one thing right, though -- Chrome OS is certainly a unique take on the operating system experience, though.  The new OS starts off ordinary enough, built on a stripped down Linux environment.

From there the experience veers from past designs, by funneling the user's entire interactions with the system through a web browser -- Chrome -- to be precise.

The technique offers certain challenges -- particularly the difficulty of writing fast applications given that you have to deal with a secondary interface layer (the browser).  Modern web technologies, though, somewhat mitigate these issues.

On the plus side putting applications in the browser allows them to be sandboxed.  This protects against system crashes and certain types of security problems -- e.g. viruses (though some malicious programs like keyloggers could, in theory still work, depending on the precise details of the sandboxing scheme and how clever the malicious app's authors were).

The other unique aspect of the OS is that it will offer online backup of all information on the computer.  This cloud-based system means that if the computer ever suffers physical damage or a malware attack, restoration can be accomplished in a much easier fashion.

Google has partnered with Citrix Systems, Inc. (CTXS) and VMware, Inc. (VMW) to offer in-browser virtualization.  This could eventually allow Chrome users to access common Windows productivity tools like Microsoft Office.  Google claims that in a recent survey of 400 companies that it conducted, 75 percent said they would be able to switch from Windows, given the right mix of internet apps, offline accessible apps, and virtualization.

Microsoft has toyed with the notion of a similar cloud-driven operating system, releasing a test version of Windows dubbed Windows Azure.  While Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 offer some cloud integration, they lack full, automatic backup to the extent of Google's.

Laptops with Chrome OS will be available June 15 from Best Buy Co., Inc. (BBY) and, Inc. (AMZN).  Google has announced two models thus far -- a 11.6" from Acer with 6 hours of battery life ($349 for Wi-Fi only, more for the 3G version) and a 12.1" from Samsung with 8.5 hours of battery life ($429 for Wi-Fi only, and $499 for a 3G version).  Both laptops pack dual-core Atom CPUs from Intel Corp. (INTC).

The laptops may be a bit pricy for the curious buyer.  A smaller screen version with an ARM CPU could possibly hit the $200 mark, but at present no such option is available.  Still, some may jump at the opportunity to escape Microsoft's "torture".

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RE: Poor little boo-boo
By zozzlhandler on 5/12/2011 5:23:47 PM , Rating: 1
You are not thinking. How long does it take to get a new notebook configured the way you like with the software you use installed? It takes me at least two days (several hours of which is the "run Windows update, reboot repeat" cycle).

With a Chromebook, the time is about 10 seconds (the time to log on).

There are other similar scenarios. I suggest you try one for a bit before mindlessly dismissing the concept. It really does have a place.

Will it replace all Windows computers? No. Does it have a large potential market? Hell yes.

RE: Poor little boo-boo
By yomamafor1 on 5/12/2011 10:50:31 PM , Rating: 2
Actually I'd disagree with you. There might be a large potential customer base, but I really doubt the Chromebook will be able to break the wall once faced by the Netbook. To make matters worse, Chromebook is based on Linux, which a lot of people don't really understand, and don't care to. Toss in the fact that a lot of applications are Windows only, I wouldn't be surprised if Google finds itself in the same quagmire most netbook manufacturers are currently in.

So as opposed to fighting the M$ for the marketshare, Google will most likely finding itself fighting against Apple, Motorola, and Samsung for the secondary computer market. In most cases, I think people are going to choose tablet over a linux based netbook any day of the week.

RE: Poor little boo-boo
By zozzlhandler on 5/13/2011 10:38:46 AM , Rating: 2
You should try it out. There is *no* way to see Linux from ChromeOS. All you see is a browser with some configuration pages. People are familiar with browsers, right? Also, most people need only the applications in Office (and usually only a small subset of their features). The existing cloud applications cover the basics quite well.
And then there are the advantages. Turn on the machine, and in about 10 seconds you are ready to go. No "Windows is configuring your recent updates - please do not turn off your machine" for 5 or more minutes (or even the standard 40-second boot). No buying antivirus subscriptions each year for each PC you have in the house. Now big cash outlay updating to Windows 7 (or 8), or the latest MS-Office. I could go on, but surely the point is clear now. Its not for everybody (certainly not for me, at least as my only computer) but for those whose time is valuable and want stuff to "just work", this concept has great merit if it is executed properly.

For me, the most telling sign is that people in my house grab the CR48 first (leaving the Window notebooks alongside untouched) when they want to do something quick. The CR48's trackpad is annoying, its screen small, and still it gets grabbed first. What if a really polished version was available?

"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

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