Let’s move on to the last part of this series of articles and take a look at what google has to offer in this battle for the dominion of our computers…
A lot has been written about google trying to develop a new operating system (known off the record as GooOS), which would be hosted by a super computer in which anybody could have an account, access it through the Internet and carry out all kinds of daily tasks…does this represent the end of the normal distribution of operating systems as we know it? Does this mean that we will no longer need to go to a store to buy our new version of MS Windows?
During the past years, Google has focused its efforts on developing a totally innovative software distribution platform. It has been working on being ready to offer the world all the packages of necessary utilities…for free. It all started with Gmail, one of the first e-mail hosts to offer more than 1GB of storage capacity. As the storage capacity of my email started increasing, I stopped worrying about the extent of its growth or if I was ever going to top it off.
Not happy with that, Google now offers us a whole lot more: Google Desktop, a powerful tool to index the contents of our hard drive (yes, it works a lot better than the funny looking dog that hosts file searches on Windows XP); there is also Google Maps which allows us to travel to and look up practically any location around the World; and if we want to go further, we can edit and build things in this virtual World with Google SketchUp.
Let’s continue with our list of applications…Google Calendar is an application designed to keep a complete online record of one’s life. Though it is still on its Beta version, it offers reminders with images, scheduling of events, and it even allows you to send automatic reminders via SMS. There is instant messaging with Google Talk, it is possible to create web sites with Pages Creator…and the list goes on and on…with Writely (bought by Google for a couple dollars), you have the first online suite of office programs that does not use up space on your hard drive and even allows you to save your work as pdf files and share them so they can be complemented by anyone. If this weren’t enough, now you can even purchase online through Google Checkout, as an alternative to PayPal.
Google is basically growing together with the Internet, and it is practically at the point of being able to offer users all the applications that they might need in their computers…for free. The missing part in this puzzle to simply and definitely forget about Microsoft is an operating platform. A tool that could be used for this purpose might be the Secure Global Desktop Software by Sun, which allows users to generate a remote desktop via internet and to run “cross platform” applications. All of this at a very low hardware cost, something that goes hand in hand with Google’s hardware policy which privileges a lower cost per CPU cycle over more specialized hardware that is therefore, more expensive.
So what does Google get from all these free offerings? First of all, due to the lower associated costs, it drives users from Microsoft to its new system, and then there is advertising revenues generated from “customized” advertising, and of course the fees charged for “Premium” Products.
We are definitely facing a very complex scenario. As long as Microsoft continues to delay the launch of Windows Vista, we will keep on seeing Google come up with new products and services. Google is only lacking an operating system in order to provide us with complete package and by doing so, placing itself in a privileged position on the run for dominion of the personal computer market.
Finally, what can we expect from all of this? Certainly, the outcome of this battle is still a couple years down the road…maybe Windows Vista is the last one of Microsoft’s operating systems…or maybe not…what is truly important is that for the time being, as time goes by, new alternatives are rising and it is important that they consolidate in order to become a real contribution to technology. If Google were to finally to bring down Microsoft’s empire with a new operating system, it would only be a matter of time…however, it would be important not to go from one monopoly to another one, but to have various alternatives to choose from that are efficient and result in a true and creative contribution to the development of even better technologies.