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Chrome OS: building a cathedral on a bazaar

Chrome OS is a triumph: from the chaos of the open-source bazaar its champion, Google, is building a tightly-controlled cathedral – one that will shield people from computing horrors such as viruses and crashes by allowing in only the filtered sunlight of web applications.

Chrome OS is made out of open-source software – Linux, WebKit, etc. From these publicly-owned pieces Google is building a very privately-owned computing system. Chrome OS will run only on hardware that Google allows. It will run only the Chrome browser that Google controls. You will access Chrome OS using your Google login details. Other companies and their services can offer users only web-based applications and can’t save any data on Chrome OS machines.

In return for this almost complete control of hardware and software, Chrome OS will avoid incompatibilities between them and allow Google to vet all software for malicious intent.

Microsoft has never had this level of control. Nor has Apple, whose OS X is a more closely controlled system than Windows. The iPhone’s App Store constraints have parallels with Chrome OS and have raised howls from frustrated developers.

But from the point of view of Conosco’s IT support services I like Chrome OS: increasingly you can get anything you want from Alice’s Restaurant web services. If the price of reliability is sticking to the web, let’s keep things simple and get more done.