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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 Amazon.com, 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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Not compelling
By epobirs on 5/13/2011 5:04:16 AM , Rating: 2
I find Brin's claims extremely unconvincing. This device is essentially a portable WebTV. This isn't as limited as such an item would have been ten or so years ago when WebTV was still an actively marketed product but the same can be said for the basic OS shipped with mainstream laptops.

The equation remains the same. For no significant monetary savings, this gives me nothing I cannot get with a full feature mainstream laptop while taking away much that I do get. The claimed reduction of complexity just isn't that big an improvement in exchange for the limiting of my choices.

Nor do any claims of malware protection impress me. The #1 security feature of any platform is lack of market share. The black hats have demonstrated time and again that every system has holes to be exploited. If your platform represent an opportunity for the crooks, it will fall. It's just a question of whether you've got the numbers to make it worth their time.

The #1 security hole to be exploited is gullible users. If you target them as a market, you don't as great of a market share to be of interest to the bad guys. And isn't that what Google is promoting here? A platform for users who cannot be trusted not poke holes in themselves if left unsupervised with a sharp object? "Target our platform! We've got the dumbest users gather in one virtual place!"




"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer














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