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Google exec: 60% of businesses could dump Windows for Chrome OS

Google continues to send mixed messages about Chrome OS. The latest comes from a Google exec who says Chrome OS could be an enterprise replacement for Windows.

Google continues to send the world mixed messages about Chrome OS.

Depending on who you ask about Chrome OS at Google or among Google analysts, you could hear any one of the following messages:

  • Chrome OS will be released in December
  • Chrome OS has been delayed until 2011
  • Chrome OS will be killed before it comes to market
  • Chrome OS and Android will merge into one platform

The latest information comes from a New York Times report that cites its source as Linus Upson, Chrome chief and Google vice president of engineering. The new report says Google recently deployed new systems loaded with Chrome OS to internal Google employees, including Sergey Brin. The Google co-founder reluctantly made the exchange.

However, the kicker in the Times story was this: "Mr. Upson says that 60 percent of businesses could immediately replace their Windows machines with computers running Chrome OS. He also says he hopes it will put corporate systems administrators out of work because software updates will be made automatically over the Web."

Keep in mind that the Times is paraphrasing Upson here and not quoting him directly, but this is an extremely ambitious goal that is being attributed to Google's head honcho of Chrome OS. It's also a loaded statement and it's worth trying to unpack it.

The Chrome OS is aimed at computers that are essentially just Web browsers and don't store any of their data locally but keep it all in the cloud -- especially Google's cloud. So, Upson's statement is assuming that most companies won't just be using Chrome OS but will also being using Google Apps (or a competitor such as Zoho) for handling all business email and documents.

The other part of Upson's statement is that because the Chrome OS will automatically handle all software updates behind the scenes without user intervention that it will "put corporate systems administrators out of work." It's interesting to hear Google make a brazen statement like this, since this has previously been suspected to be one of their motives but has never been stated openly. The public revelation aside, systems administrators do a lot more than just push software updates so this statement is pretty inflammatory from that perspective.

Since Chrome OS is primarily aimed at netbooks, it's laughable to think of 60% of businesses deploying netbooks to their employees. As a recent TechRepublic poll showed, the vast majority of businesses still give their employees desktops and not laptops. And, of the corporate employees that get laptops, an even smaller percentage get netbooks.

The other problem with Chrome OS aiming at netbooks is that the netbook market is under attack from smartphones and tablets. Upson said, "We are starting with laptops and we will expand in both directions." In other words, Chrome OS will scale down to tablets and scale up to desktops.

So, at least for the moment, it looks like Chrome OS is back on for Google. I don't think it's time for systems administrators to start shaking in their boots just yet.

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About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

101 comments
jfreedle2
jfreedle2

The headline says it all about Google, they are full of junk. They have the stupidest employees on the planet. They lie, steal, and cheat. They grab information that they have now need of, and they sell what they can. They should be put out of business.

deepsand
deepsand

when Chrome OS fails to become more than a novelty.

pjboyles
pjboyles

I have yet to see where the Chrome OS will work in an enterprise setting. Enterprises need control over change. Enterprises want control over what users can do with systems. We all have seemless updates and patches. Seemless to the end user. Workers need access to data and applications online, offline and places that are never anywhere near a network. Chrome depends on a "cloud" deployment of applications and data. What the "cloud" proponents keep failing at is they need to be public and private. Futher, data needs to reside within the business's control and usually at the business's site. The clouds need to provide a common set of APIs and services that are common across all cloud providers so an application can be written once then used on any provider. Then again that will commoditize the cloud and hit most of them right in the bottom line. Does chrome have a place? Sure. Is that place a replacement for a large percentage of PCs in an enterprise? No. I see this as something of a nitch device. Need a system for temporary limited use? Here have this one. Gate guard needs a system limited to a handful of applications that only run over a network? A good fit. (Provided Chrome OS can be locked down.) Got a order/entry system worker using a client server application? Another possiblity.

david
david

Does the author really think that senior Google executives haven't seen the same statistics as he has? Also, th author is obviously confused between the Chrome browser and the Chrome OS. If you assume a good, complete, and fast version of Office on the web, and abundant cloud storage, then tell me this: Isn't it true that 60% of offices run just the foregoing and their own apps [soon to move to the cloud? While IT folks feel threatened by the move to the cloud, and hence feel compelled to dis all new cloud-related ideas that threaten their hegemony, they need not. IT survived the move away from mainframe computing, and from expensive proprietary UNIX servers. Those wise enough to sense the opportunities will do very well and benefit from the cloud revolution. The others will fossilize.

neilb
neilb

In October 2009, routine maintenance on the .se top-level domain went "horribly wrong" and every site with this address was inaccessible for almost an hour. That's the whole of Sweden off the Cloud! :)

mattohare
mattohare

Chrome can enter the enterprise fairly easily. They do take care of a lot of the net admin headaches. They also take as much responsibility for their software working properly as MS does. Those have been two barriers for Linux in the enterprise. I do suggest that Google will come up with some appliances that go into firms? racks to provide local Google apps and storage. And, I expect the price tag on the appliances to be fairly high. It will replace a lot of the costs firms now pay for their network administration. Finally, I do expect Google to give net admins the ability to choose which updates go through to servers and users. Admins will want to control how users can use applications in some environments. As I write this, I realise that they really are in position to take on MS in about every enterprise in the world. They won?t always succeed, but they will be able to make a good case. That Microsoft is working in this direction from their side, it really could happen.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Somebody at Google get the herbs mixed up when stuffing the turkey? Sure, a large number of corporate desktops could be replaced with non-Windows systems. Virtualized desktops and 'thin client' systems have been available for years. What does Chrome bring to the party for those business who have ignored those established alternatives?

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Now you need only provide supporting information for each of your claims. You know Google staff personally? You frequent the offices and see the staff in action? Stupidest employees? I'm guessing the leaked Google interview questions where just a hoax. Don't get me wrong.. Google is a business which makes them suspect by default. Let's not go over the top without providing some sort of support for our claims though.

deepsand
deepsand

to find another who has [b]not[/b] quaffed the Google Kool Aid. We seem to be few and far between. :(

santeewelding
santeewelding

You receive word of the world by Pony Express -- Clipper Ship a year out -- or something?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"I have yet to see where the Chrome OS will work in an enterprise setting." I have yet to see the Chrome OS, period.

ScarF
ScarF

talking about things he doesn't comprehend. Palmetto is right: not the cloud is what I'm affraid (nor off-shore, out-sourcing etc.), but gullible bosses - without a minimal tech knowledge - ready to buy any IT gargle. Not to mention that many of these executives don't even know what the heck they are doing with the businesses they "manage". The Google dude's words are nothing but 3DTV-like advertisement - maybe, a new IT bubble (remember 2000 bubble? Anyone?).

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

I'm scared of nothing except managers who buy into if you just buy my product all your problems will go away rubbish. You want chrome get it, I'll make it work, it's what I do and what you are going to pay me for. Assume a fast good and complete version of office? What sort of moron do you think I am? Complete means do anything and everything for everybody, and it's got to be fast and good? Can I have til yesterday to develop it, I'm seeing issues..... A lot of IT has not moved away from mainframe computing, and interestingly they would probably find it easier to move into the cloud than those who went for the PC model. Distributed computing means interdependence, better still the good enough and I want it now cheap model means that most of those dependencies are implicit, that's why the last good idea SaaS fell on it's arse when implemented. If you want this stuff to work talk to techs not Gartner. The real problem is cloud is revolution, but it's being sold as evolution. After all if it's proponents were daft enough to say this is going to cost you a shed load of money as well, it wouldn't be anywhere near as attractive would it? The reason IT is a wooden leg in terms of progress, is business types amputated the perfectly good one we had and sold it on, or just ate it themselves..... If I try real hard to reduce the risk, sometimes I can get permission to rename a variable. Hegemony, yeah right.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"While IT folks feel threatened by the move to the cloud, and hence feel compelled to dis all new cloud-related ideas that threaten their hegemony..." The threat from upper management, when some jeeter with a backhoe rips out the fiber lines and they can't get to their cloud-based data.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"I do expect Google to give net admins the ability to choose which updates go through to servers and users." You think Chrome will run a server? It's a browser on steroids. Google isn't going to 'give' net admins anything regarding updating servers, since Chrome on a server isn't even under development.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

the Google name. Will that be enough? IT pros used to have a bit of a love affair with Google (since it grew up as an engineering-driven company) but the relationship seems to have cooled in recent years.

deepsand
deepsand

dealing with Google employees and/or "volunteers" who act in their stead. Left hand - right hand? Hell, even the right one's not sure about itself! Had I the time & the disposition, I'd be happy to regale you with tales of the "man behind the curtain." In the mean, spend some time reading the meanderings of Matt Cutts. Pay very close attention, noting the voluminous vague and contradictory statements.

deepsand
deepsand

Chrome OS machine = [b]dumb terminal[/b] tethered to a remote server. BFD.

deepsand
deepsand

that filters out the garbage. Original rumors had it that Chrome OS would support more than just those honored to be in the "Google store."

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Yep I got paid more for doing what I do before it and after it. Still not sure why but I'm just a tech who doesn't understand this complicated business stuff....

mattohare
mattohare

Some firms will want local failsafe. They want to know their staff are not dead in the water when the internet connnection is down. Some of them want local control of data. Google has already made appliances for clients' server rooms. BTW, when I say 'give', I do mean sell/rent.

santeewelding
santeewelding

I had come to rely on your "check"; damn-near, at times, "checkmate". Keep your body and soul together for a bit longer.

deepsand
deepsand

It's the where and how that's wearing me down.

santeewelding
santeewelding

Was your mention of you turning sideways and becoming unseen. Quell my alarm. You are reasonably well in all ways -- yes?

deepsand
deepsand

If there's to be a charge for that, it's completely escaped my attention.

JCitizen
JCitizen

I would have thought Google was going to do your storage for you. I seem to remember reading the charges in one of your links. What was it? $4.90 a month?

deepsand
deepsand

But, only those allowed in the Google Store. You won't be able to add unapproved 3rd party extensions.

deepsand
deepsand

well before the advent of the term "firmware." Perhaps you recall the confusion re. emulation vs simulation during the transition from the IBM 70xx --> 14xx --> 360.

deepsand
deepsand

With a smart phone you can actually locally store and manage data.

JCitizen
JCitizen

this was going to be a giant smart phone; I thought it would have some 802.11 G capability. I'd rather use a smart phone than buy this behemoth, if that is all it does!

JCitizen
JCitizen

one can put addons to the browser that Chrome OS would remember from the cloud. Just guessing. I doubt any sandbox would suffice for what I'm talking about. Rapport works very well with the Windows version of the Chrome browser, maybe this will too?

mattohare
mattohare

Only a personal computer could. Personal computers were only 'termnals' when they had terminal software installed. Well, unless someone went and redrew all the definitions since the mainframe days.

deepsand
deepsand

Hardly seems cost effective.

deepsand
deepsand

So, yes, the Chrome OS machine is a dumb terminal. BTW, the media used to store settings is irrelevant; ROM, Static Ram, HD, FD, Jumpers, Switches, etc. all perform such functions. That the Chrome OS machine will reportedly have Flash RAM does not serve to make it "smart."

JCitizen
JCitizen

would be enough for what I'm talking about; after all, I'm not surfing the web with it either. If you can't write to disk, then most of the dangerous malware like Zues can't get into the startup folder, because there isn't one. They could get into memory but add-ons like Rapport and/or Keyscrambler could defeat their mission during the session. However the bank site itself would have to be infected for that to happen. This has happened though, with very careless bank site administrators. However I really don't know if any planned netbook designs for Chrome OS include a hard drive, because it isn't out yet. So this is all idle speculation. I don't feel, that just because a netbook has RAM, in can't be labeled a dumb terminal. You can't run a modern browser without RAM.

mattohare
mattohare

A 'dumb terminal' has no memory or other storage. Turn it off and bang go any settings. I think people forget that the next innovation before personal computers was a 'smart terminal' that had such storage. Netbooks, and the like, would be closer to the smart terminal model.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

can't much run security programs, or can they?

JCitizen
JCitizen

way to check my bank account, using it with a dedicated netbook just for that purpose only. That is if a person trusts Google analytics on privacy issues. I assume it uses the Chrome browser base and all of its add-on support.

JCitizen
JCitizen

To each his own specialty! :D

deepsand
deepsand

something that would make the fanboys take note.

deepsand
deepsand

IMO, they're not even worthy of the descriptor "micro."

santeewelding
santeewelding

Will be pleased with your assignment of merely, "macro".

deepsand
deepsand

The effects of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle are observed at the quantum level; those of the Google Uncertainty Principle, at the macro level. So named after having been first discovered as the cause of the pseudo-random ordering of Google's organic SERPs.

JCitizen
JCitizen

so every time an uncertainty principle shows up in a quantum experiment the physicist can substitute the word Google! For ex: "The induction field caused a Google effect" ;)

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Nothing comes out of nothing... or, if it does, it's bound to foster all sorts of "religions" and "science" trying to map out why it happened ;)

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