Opinion: Why Google Chrome OS matters already, on Day 1

Everyone who uses a computer already knows Google -- and most of them trust it

At last. At long last, there's a real challenger to the Windows desktop, and its name is Google Chrome OS.

Why is Google Chrome OS going to be real trouble for Windows? After all, technically, desktop Linuxes like Fedora, openSUSE, and Ubuntu, long ago left Windows in the dust. Mac OS X Panther is also darn good and it and its upcoming successor, Snow Leopard, are easier to use than anything else out there. So, what's so special about Google Chrome OS? I'll tell you.

The most important single fact you need to keep in mind is that everyone who uses a computer already knows Google, and most of them trust it. Only PC power users know about Linux, and the ones who know what's what about such top-Linux desktop distributions as MEPIS 8 and Mint 7 are numbered in millions compared to the hundreds of millions who know Windows. Pretty much everyone knows Apple, but, even as Apple has gained some desktop market share, CEO Steve Jobs has never moved from his stand that Macs are high-end PCs. Apple builds sports cars, and it's not interested in selling you a truck, an SUV or, heaven forbid, a station wagon.

Everyone knows and can afford Google, though. They may not know much about Google Docs, but they trust Google for their searches and many of them are already Gmail users. You see, unlike the other alternatives to Windows, Google has the singular advantage of already being well known and well liked. That will make all the difference in the world.

That said, here's what else you need to know about Google Chrome OS.

Take Google's well-known and respected name, combine it with an unbeatable price tag, toss in Linux's unmatched security and stability, and what do you get? The most serious competition Windows has seen this century.

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 sjvn@vna1.com.

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