What keeps that combo from winning the day is the reluctance to rely on a machine that can't do much of anything without an Internet connection. But that resistance is going to fade as we all begin to realize that the same thing is more and more true of fat clients.
Microsoft seems oddly intent to help Google achieve its plans. Have you seen Windows 8? I have, and I hate it. That's not blind Windows bashing. I like Windows 7; it's the best desktop Microsoft ever created. But Windows 8 throws away the Windows 7 Aero interface and replaces it with Metro. If you know how to use a Web browser, you already know how to use Chrome OS, even though it's really just the Chrome Web browser running on a thin layer of Linux. You don't -- boy, how you don't -- know how to use Windows 8.
So here's what I see happening. Four years from now, in 2016, most desktop users will still be using Windows -- but it's more likely to be Windows 7 or even XP than Windows 8. There will be more Mac OS X users than ever before, but not as many as will then be using Chrome OS. What will be most important, though, is the trend, and most of us will be moving to cloud-oriented operating systems.
Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has been writing about technology and the business of technology since CP/M-80 was cutting-edge and 300bit/sec. was a fast Internet connection -- and we liked it! He can be reached at email@example.com.
Read more about operating systems in Computerworld's Operating Systems Topic Center.