The Emperor’s New Clothes

Firstly, apologies for the silence in recent weeks – it’s been a busy time and, well, y’know. Once you’re a week or two behind blog posting, you might as well be a month or two behind…

Anyway. Lots has happened IT-wise in the last few months. Windows 7 press seems to be going well (shock, even some Mac users think it’s not awful, though maybe it’s too Mac like…), and the RTM last week [from our annual sales conference held this year in Atlanta, in past years the source of the various Ballmer videos that can be found online] has the potential to kick-start a new wave of PC innovation in both hardware and software.

The iPhone 3GS has launched to near universal acclaim, even if it costs £1700 to upgrade for existing fans. Hats off to Apple on another great product release – Windows Mobile is now so far behind it’s almost an also-ran: despite some great devices like the HTC Snap, which I had a play with the other day … that, for me, is the ideal device: I’ve never got on that well with ‘touch’, and a slim, 3G device with a decent keyboard is hard to beat.

The Emperors New Clothes The buzz in the press a few weeks ago (and inspiration for the title of this post) concerned Google’s Chrome OS. Essentially, a Linux kernel fused to a Chrome browser, with enough drivers to make it work on various bits of hardware (principally Intel based netbooks), at least as far as I can tell. Maybe I’m missing the point, but I don’t see it as being all that revolutionary, or even all that functional… and others appear to be saying the same thing.

Things get more complicated, though, when trying to understand Google’s plan for where this OS/browser fusion is going – especially when thinking about the Native Client project, which aims to provide a way of executing rich client code natively on the host PC rather than going through JavaScript or similar.

It seems that Google is putting a lot of effort into reinventing the Operating System, even though there are plenty of good ones out there already… but to what end? Is the end result going to be more “open”? More secure (than Windows, or Mac, or any of the major Linux distros)? Or is it just that Google wants to control everything the end users do, and what data they do it with?

Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) wrote about a previously hyped revolution in the way we’ll all work, the Network Computer. 10 years ago, the story was that all our apps would move to a new paradigm, be written in Java, and delivered to the Network Computer – NC – on demand. The PC model was dead.

Eric Schmidt (CEO of Google) was a driving force behind that initiative, at Sun. Maybe he thinks it’s time to try again?

I had to laugh at the brilliant Fake Steve Jobs’ “Dear Eric” post, highlighting something of the impending conflict of interest between erstwhile partners, GOOG and AAPL, as the anti-trust investigators start circling and looking for transgressions. With Google and Apple competing on mobile device OSs, potentially on desktop OSs and on browsers (although Chrome currently does use the same heart as Safari), how long before they start putting clear air between themselves in other areas? Maybe we’ll see Apple putting their arms around other search engines, and not hard-coding Google as the provider in Safari?

Last year, Wired magazine mocked the “Don’t be Evil” motto, by featuring an “Evil Meter” – maybe it’s time for an update?

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