Amanda McPherson of the Linux Foundation has an interesting blog post in which she tries to discern Google’s objectives in introducing the Chrome OS. As I did in my earlier post, “The Other Shoe Drops”, she points out that Google has a fundamental interest in increasing Web usage:
Google’s main motivation in every single thing it does is to put more and more people online, all the time, to view their ads and to make use of their applications (thus seeing more of their ads).
And she makes the further point that Google’s interest is broader than just the desktop and laptop PCs in first-world countries:
Google wants to see multiple devices connected to the web in every household. A web device in your pocket, one on your wrist, in your car, on your boat and in every room of your house; not to mention computers in homes in the developing world.
Historically, Microsoft’s OEM license terms have provided very strong incentives for vendors to install Windows on every PC they shipped. (For example, the machine on which I am writing this came with Windows pre-installed, and I am sure I paid something for the “privilege” — but this machine has never run Windows for actual useful work.) The success of the new “netbook” computers, many originally configured with Linux, has forced Microsoft to make available an old, theoretically-discontinued version of Windows (XP) at a heavily discounted price.
Ms. McPherson also identifies the application development potential of Chrome as a key selling point:
I think Google’s Native Application Project will be a key part of this OS. What this means is that I can run certain native applications just as easily through my browser on Linux and x86 as I can on Windows or Mac and x86, and that I can make use of more of the computing power of the device than through the normal app/browser paradigms of today.
Finally, although Microsoft has recently made some serious efforts to get into the cloud-computing area, with Windows Live, running large data centers and Web services has not historically been their strong suit. To the extent that the Chrome OS is successful, it will have the effect of forcing Microsoft to play Google’s game.