Over a decade ago, Netscape founder Marc Andreesen dreamed of using the browser to reduce the role of Microsoft Windows to a 'êpoorly debugged set of device drivers.'ê Google, with vastly deeper pockets, stands a better chance of making it a reality. First, Google developed its own browser, Chrome. As of yesterday, we know that a Chrome operating system (OS) will follow.
Readers can attest that much or most of their time on a computer is spent in a browser. New 'ênetbook'ê computers, the initial target for Chrome OS, are cheap and highly portable. Oh, and cool. Why drag around Windows Vista if you don'êt have to? Chrome is designed to prise off the oversized operating system. But the ultimate ambition is to subsume essentially everything you do on a computer within the browser.
Ironically, as Ars Technica points out, device drivers actually matter a lot and might hinder acceptance of Google's shining OS. Digital cameras, iPods, and other assorted gadgetry are even more popular than Netbooks. But you have to speak in the device driver language if you want your computer to talk to them.
It'ês a toe-to-toe slugfest as the two companies throw body blows at each other'ês core business. Microsoft launches Bing; Google launches Chrome OS. Microsoft broke IBM'ês grip on computing by gaining a foothold in the new class of 'êpersonal computers.'ê In the endless cycle of capitalist vengeance, Google now tries to do the same.
The fight is good for the spectators, of course. And even for Microsoft, as for a boxer, catching one on the jaw can actually be quite invigorating. Meanwhile, the Wall Street bookmakers laid odds on the champion, sending Microsoft up on the day.