Chrome OS: Why it'll succeed, why it'll fail

Do the Chrome OS and the Chromebook stand a chance? Here are three omens of certain failure and success.

By Brennon Slattery, PC World |  Operating Systems, Chrome OS, Google

InfoWorld reports that Chrome OS "assumes that the world is ready to give up the traditional personal computing paradigm and live full time in the cloud. In reality, most users prefer a hybrid existence, with some of their data and applications stored locally, and others -- typically the freebies, like Gmail -- hosted online." That's a point that's hard to argue.

Software Compatibility

Love it or hate it, much of the world's computing productivity comes from Microsoft Office. It rules businesses, and while many organizations -- including the federal government -- are pushing systems into independent cloud platforms, it's hard to prophesize a day when the financial industry isn't reliant on Excel and companies requiring resumes formatted in Word. Compatibility matters, and Chrome OS will not run external software.

Google Docs is becoming more compatible with Microsoft Office, but it's not precisely the same, and I suspect deep-seated wariness will keep many organizations from switching to Google's online suite.

Speaking of compatibility, Chrome OS also won't run Android apps. So as Google developers rush to compete with Apple's plethora of apps, their work will all be useless on the Chromebook. Plus, more and more smartphones are powered by Android, so it's hard to believe that developers will build Chrome OS apps when the money is elsewhere.

The Success of Chrome OS

Simplicity of a Tablet in a Netbook

If Apple has proven anything in the consumer computing world, it's that simplicity (and aesthetics) matter.

Most people want a reliable computer and OS that runs as expected upon boot-up and won't confuse. That's why Chrome OS -- centered on apps and a familiar Web interface, just like the iPad -- has a good chance of appealing to the average user's eye and sensibilities. Plus it'll have a keyboard for those cagey about typing on a glass screen.

Robust Development Platform

As much as the average consumer likes a streamlined interface, many others enjoy the traditional openness of Google services -- one of the reasons open-source Android is so popular.

Chrome OS is based on Linux and expected to be as open as Android and will allow the tech-savvy to tinker under the hood, essentially granting the capability to create the netbook they've always wanted. Appealing to both sides of the functionality spectrum is a clever move by Google and one that'll bridge gaps in computing expertise.

Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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