Lead Gmail developer predicts Chrome OS' death

Paul Buchheit, the creator of Google AdSense technology and the lead developer of Gmail, claims that Chrome OS will not still be here 12 months next year. This comes as quite a shock since Google has been so eager to get the OS and a testing device into developers' hands by offering free devices to those who were chosen after filling out a simple application form.

The post appears on Paul Buchheit's FriendFeed account, a service like Twitter created by Buchheit while he was at Google, and later sold to Facebook, stating that "ChromeOS will be killed next year (or "merged" with Android)."

With Android's increasing popularity, many wondered why Google was even bothering with Chrome OS. The simple answer is that Android was developed for phones, and Chrome OS was developed for netbooks; each platform has a different purpose. Paul Buchheit doesn't feel that Chrome OS extends itself enough, and instead will just be completely killed off or merged with Android.

Merging Android and Chrome OS would also give Android a neat leg-up on the competition, by offering both local and cloud based services all neatly integrated in a single package. Currently, iOS is a local service based platform, with the exception of MobileMe, but that works in a different way. Adding cloud-based features to Android would put a neat spin on mobile computing, especially where there is limited local storage, not to mention the extra accessibility that would become available.

Of course, ChromeOS could also simply just be killed off with lessons learned and perhaps applied to Android, but not much more than that. This is a bold statement from Paul Buchheit, but it may show a grain of truth.

As developers begin to get their hands on Google's new cloud-based OS, it will soon be clear as to how likely Buchheit's prediction is to come true.

Image source: friendfeed.com

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I'm guessing it's an experiment: are there enough users really willing to give ALL their data to Google? I think if Chrome OS is at least modestly successful, we will see a push to hand over even more and more to them. I for one will not comply, even though the cloud is quite convenient and I am 'on' 99% of the time. Google is starting to seriously creep me out.

And yes, I'm aware that GOOGLE = EVIL DATA GUZZLING MONSTER!!!!!!111!!! is quite the common 'conspiracy' theory. But every new product they offer for 'free' is just designed for that very reason.

It is great that some folks at big G got a clue. The world is just not ready for an "always connected" device. If there is no internet connection, which still happens a lot then ChromeOS is doing nothing more than collecting dust. Interest concept for sure but maybe too far ahead of its time..

I installed a custom Android x86 build on Virtualbox and everything works fine from what i can gather, even went on the internet through it. Shows that with a few tweaks here and there, Chrome OS could definitely be merged with Android. Why push another product, when a perfectly good and popular platform already exists.

Does make sense to be honest. A colleague at work has been getting Android working on a NetBook and it does seem to work and scale up and behave how you'd hope. It makes sense, as phones get faster CPU's and more memory, that the two platforms could merge the core OS and then just fork for their different features / functionality.

the point is that netbook market has no good future in comparison with tablet market, said so, how to use a good idea as chrome os?? android is already on smartphone and tablet. maybe Paul Buchheit is right.

I just don't like the whole idea of a cloud system, whether it be from Microsoft, Apple, or Google.

If I'm on a flight, in the car (as a traveler), or just in a place without wifi I can't use the system (well that much, anything that isn't cached). I mean I use PowerPoint like once a month. But what if I actually need to use it?

I don't mind cloud storage, just cloud apps... naw

I just don't understand what the big deal about Chrome OS, Android has so much momentum and developer interest. I agree with the article, and I think it's nothing more than a distraction for developers and Google itself.

But the biggest joke is how this is being treated as the second coming by some in the tech press...it's not.

You can keep your iPad and while you're at it keep it off a discussion about ChromeOS and Android. Opinions are like a**holes.... everyone has at least one .

Now back on topic, everybody knows Android wasn't initially planned to run on tablets but it's popularity and flexibility has made it more than viable platform for the task and I don't see anything wrong with Google responding to market demands. OIt seems that lots of manufacturers are more interested in putting out Android tablets so Google is responding to that. What's so shocking about that? I don't really see what can ChromeOS bring to the table at this point that Android can't handle (often better) already...

Obry said,
You can keep your iPad and while you're at it keep it off a discussion about ChromeOS and Android. Opinions are like a**holes.... everyone has at least one .

Now back on topic, everybody knows Android wasn't initially planned to run on tablets but it's popularity and flexibility has made it more than viable platform for the task and I don't see anything wrong with Google responding to market demands. OIt seems that lots of manufacturers are more interested in putting out Android tablets so Google is responding to that. What's so shocking about that? I don't really see what can ChromeOS bring to the table at this point that Android can't handle (often better) already...

Ya, iOS wasn't originally designed for tablets either, and that seems to be working out ok for Apple.

Android has the treat of fragmentation already, Google shouldn't add another layer of OS fragmentation for their market.

Android has limitations in the JAVA API set and other foolish things Google did, but it is not too late to expand these out so they can scale and work beyond a phone metaphor.

Apple has been fixing iOS to be more tablet friendly, and Microsoft already designed the WP7 platform around technologies that extend to any device size with solid APIs sets that run on and even come from the XBox and Windows.

Google would better serve itself to advance Android and massage out the problems with the limited API and inheritance issues that plaque development and expansion to non-phone devices than to try to create a network model OS with cobbled together technologies that offer no advantages over what already exists.

mentas said,
LOOL, another G$gle fail.
Why you need a "ChromeOS"??? ...ok fan boys... blahh blahhh

Ohh please, buy an iPad

It's funny (and not in a good way) how the first people to usually toss out the fan boy insult, usually fall into the same category for a rival group.

thornz0 said,

It's funny (and not in a good way) how the first people to usually toss out the fan boy insult, usually fall into the same category for a rival group.

Could'nt have agreed more with you.

I don't think it'll be killed off. Google has invested too much at this point to simply throw in the towel with ChromeOS. However, it's quite possible that they'll merge it with the Android operating system. Of course, they'd have to make a version of the operating system that's tailored to netbooks.

Anaron said,
I don't think it'll be killed off. Google has invested too much at this point to simply throw in the towel with ChromeOS. However, it's quite possible that they'll merge it with the Android operating system. Of course, they'd have to make a version of the operating system that's tailored to netbooks.

I am wondering about the logistics of that. The who point of ChromeOS is to store everything on the cloud and Android stores everything on the device. If Android switches to cloud storage, it will be one more OS I wouldn't bother with for personal use. GL rooting your device when your service provider can just overwrite it on the cloud.

IDK...I think they are currently targeting completely different markets and merging the two platforms doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

Google is pretty late to the whole Netbook market though. 2008 and 2009 were the years of the netbook. 2010 on onwards are all about the slates. ChromeOS may be DOA.

Shadrack said,
IDK...I think they are currently targeting completely different markets and merging the two platforms doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

Google is pretty late to the whole Netbook market though. 2008 and 2009 were the years of the netbook. 2010 on onwards are all about the slates. ChromeOS may be DOA.

Eventually people will want to replace their existing net books. If the Andriod OS will run on a net book, and people are use to Android on their slates/phones, they will be more likely to buy a net book with Android on it. The added app market makes net books more useful than they currently are. Only so much you can do comfortably in Windows on a display that small.

As good as it may seem, this chrome OS is not going to go down well, the average end user wants more than just a browser, and the average end user is not going to know how to dual boot chrome and mac/windows.

If I take a typical student from 6th form (yr 12) they will say, yay, instant facebook/youtube ect. but then they want to talk to their girlfriend on skype, how does that happen? unless a skype app is developed but then when you start adding apps it becomes a "proper" OS again and defeats the purpose.

I want it to succeed but at this stage I see a dead end

Auzeras said,
As good as it may seem, this chrome OS is not going to go down well, the average end user wants more than just a browser, and the average end user is not going to know how to dual boot chrome and mac/windows.

If I take a typical student from 6th form (yr 12) they will say, yay, instant facebook/youtube ect. but then they want to talk to their girlfriend on skype, how does that happen? unless a skype app is developed but then when you start adding apps it becomes a "proper" OS again and defeats the purpose.

I want it to succeed but at this stage I see a dead end

yeah I think that webapps will be developed for those programs.

From what I've seen, Chome OS is targeted toward a very specific audience: People with limited computer knowledge. Google has taken a look at the numbers and let's face it, a very large portion of the population has no idea how to use a computer beyond clicking the browser icon and using the forward and back buttons. With that being said, I think that Chrome OS will be a success. It's also Google's way of (timidly) entering the desktop OS arena.

So did the rest of the world. Only the google fun club thinks this is great. Don't take me wrong I have nothing against this. But instead of Chrome OS I would rather own a netbook with Windows 7 Starter edition. 1GB RAM can run most office apps and you don't need to worry about internet usage that much.

I didn't understand the point for chromeOS after andriod either..... chromeOS was basically a browser with a lot of speed tweaks to boot the system... merge those into android and make android faster no need for two OS's just componentize andriod more

Merging Android and Chrome OS would also give Android a neat leg-up on the competition, by offering both local and cloud based services all neatly integrated in a single package. Currently, iOS is a local service based platform, with the exception of MobileMe, but that works in a different way. Adding cloud-based features to Android would put a neat spin on mobile computing, especially where there is limited local storage, not to mention the extra accessibility that would become available.
How did you go over this and miss the fact that the combination of Cloud-based and local-based computing exists already on Windows Phone 7.

I will never allow anyone I have any say-so over to buy Chrome OS. If all you need is a web browser, and you already own a smart phone, then Chrome OS just buys you a bigger screen with added weight and more stuff to carry around. Whew, a web browser that starts up in a minute, and goes to sleep in a few seconds... buy an iPod touch.

The most amusing thing is that a Google executive stated--when WP7 was being released--that we did not need another OS. Here comes Chrome OS, the OS without a purpose.

pickypg said,
How did you go over this and miss the fact that the combination of Cloud-based and local-based computing exists already on Windows Phone 7.

I will never allow anyone I have any say-so over to buy Chrome OS. If all you need is a web browser, and you already own a smart phone, then Chrome OS just buys you a bigger screen with added weight and more stuff to carry around. Whew, a web browser that starts up in a minute, and goes to sleep in a few seconds... buy an iPod touch.

The most amusing thing is that a Google executive stated--when WP7 was being released--that we did not need another OS. Here comes Chrome OS, the OS without a purpose.

+1 Bingo...

pickypg said,
How did you go over this and miss the fact that the combination of Cloud-based and local-based computing exists already on Windows Phone 7.

I will never allow anyone I have any say-so over to buy Chrome OS. If all you need is a web browser, and you already own a smart phone, then Chrome OS just buys you a bigger screen with added weight and more stuff to carry around. Whew, a web browser that starts up in a minute, and goes to sleep in a few seconds... buy an iPod touch.

The most amusing thing is that a Google executive stated--when WP7 was being released--that we did not need another OS. Here comes Chrome OS, the OS without a purpose.


Man, couldn't agree anymore.

I just don't get it. Chrome doesn't help you, it hinders you. As it stands, it's a companion device's companion device. A smartphone could be seen as a companion to a full notebook, but the Chrome OS-based notebook seems like a companion to a smartphone to me. I don't see how it can ever be someone's primary computer.

It would make sense for them to strengthen Chrome OS by enabling it to run Android applications as widgets and tap into the Android marketplace.

I really don't get the chromeOS. Well, I get it but I just don't understand how useful it is. It's just really a browser with google services links. I mean, just create any netbook-slap firefox or internet explorer on there and link it with their services. Just don't get it.

Glassed Silver said,
cloud for mobiles makes sense, yes, but with such capped plans as are around nowadays I'd rather go for a beefier phone model.

Agreed. Not to mention that service is spotty or not available everywhere you'd need access to your files. If they had it sync Dropbox style, that would be excellent.

The Cloud is the "internet", however you connect to it. Or are we are talking about computers that do not need internet access? Why a need for Dropbox, when you could just open anything from anywhere and it be the same thing?

Pretty obvious to me.
Google is abusing of it's marketing power to launch useless products. They may end up with a problem someday.

...only for their stockholders.

Consumers always benefit from competition. Even though there are fewer and fewer companies "competing" with one another these days.

Trueblue711 said,
They have the money, why not spend it? Usually good things come out of failed projects, so only time will tell.

Like Wave for example, the technology that was in Wave for the real time editing was added to Docs which allowed for many people to edit the same document and everyone saw what they added as soon as it was added.

Luis Mazza said,
Pretty obvious to me.
Google is abusing of it's marketing power to launch useless products. They may end up with a problem someday.

Microsoft does the same thing

ZekeComa said,

Microsoft does the same thing

Oh yes lets bring MS into this for no reason other than to show that Googles repeated stupidity is shared by others as well. That doesn't change the fact that this move and others before it are stupid ones. ChromeOS isn't going to take off, if they thought it would they wouldn't have bothered to back android as a plan B.

GP007 said,

Oh yes lets bring MS into this for no reason other than to show that Googles repeated stupidity is shared by others as well. That doesn't change the fact that this move and others before it are stupid ones. ChromeOS isn't going to take off, if they thought it would they wouldn't have bothered to back android as a plan B.

They aren't backing it as Plan B, this is the opinion of one dev not the whole company

Trueblue711 said,
They have the money, why not spend it? Usually good things come out of failed projects, so only time will tell.

Because the money that is lost belongs to shareholders, not eccentric billionaires. Chrome OS is a joke.... an expensive one.

ZekeComa said,

Microsoft does the same thing

Actually, I wish... Microsoft is prohibited from doing this to the point they have had to cripple features for consumers over and over.

They moved OS applicaitons to Live Essentials and had to leave Zune separate from Windows Media player and Windows itself, yet companies they do compete with are free to bundle all this into the OS without anyone blinking an eye.

Even in the mobile market, they have had to 'get approval' for what they can include in WP7 and how to sidetrack the regulations and EU threats, that Android and Apple don't have to deal with and can innovate what they want in their OS and their devices.

Sounds like google is going to take the same approach as apple, one OS for all devices. Makes sense, based on the popularity of iOS and Android.

koppit said,
Sounds like google is going to take the same approach as apple, one OS for all devices. Makes sense, based on the popularity of iOS and Android.

More like Google is reclassifying net books as a mobile device that use a mobile OS and not a desktop OS. Microsoft and Apple are both using their desktop OS's on their net book products. I highly doubt we will see a desktop that runs on iOS, WP7, or Android natively. Even Apples solution at this point is putting iOS on top of OSX in the future.

koppit said,
Sounds like google is going to take the same approach as apple, one OS for all devices. Makes sense, based on the popularity of iOS and Android.

I don't see Apple doing one OS for all devices, what do you mean?

iOS and OS X have a similar core kernel, but beyond that the driver and upper level layers of the OS are very different. iOS's applicaiton layer is not strong or feature rich enough to run applications like Photoshop or other OS X applications.

Right now Google is already using the Linux kernel on both devices, just like the base kernel design of iOS and OS X are the same.

I don't see where Apple is doing the 'same' OS beyond using part of darwin for iOS. Even in the latest OS X announcements, iOS and OS X are two very different OSes and OS technologies.

I don't really see any reason why this wouldn't be true. Android is already a very lightweight platform as it's targeted towards low power mobile devices. Why not use it as a base for Chrome OS, even if Chrome OS mainly uses the browser for everything?

Betaz said,
I don't really see any reason why this wouldn't be true. Android is already a very lightweight platform as it's targeted towards low power mobile devices. Why not use it as a base for Chrome OS, even if Chrome OS mainly uses the browser for everything?

+1

Betaz said,
I don't really see any reason why this wouldn't be true. Android is already a very lightweight platform as it's targeted towards low power mobile devices. Why not use it as a base for Chrome OS, even if Chrome OS mainly uses the browser for everything?

+1
Android is priority one, so why bother? Android is as scalable on these devices as they make it. So larger hardware support, same OS.

I would guess that Android was not far along enough at the point they needed to make a cloud based pitch. MS vs GOOG, race to cloud ownership. Will businesses keep supplying bandwidth, and to what end if everything becomes web based?

Edited by justmike, Dec 14 2010, 7:14pm :

Betaz said,
I don't really see any reason why this wouldn't be true. Android is already a very lightweight platform as it's targeted towards low power mobile devices. Why not use it as a base for Chrome OS, even if Chrome OS mainly uses the browser for everything?
+1

Betaz said,
I don't really see any reason why this wouldn't be true. Android is already a very lightweight platform as it's targeted towards low power mobile devices. Why not use it as a base for Chrome OS, even if Chrome OS mainly uses the browser for everything?

Google would be smarter to extend Android to meet iOS and WP7 features it is missing, and go further with features that are lacking in iOS and WP7.

Little things like:

Expand and refine the JAVA Libraries -
(They never should have build from JAVA in the first place)

New Application APIs that are not hindered by JAVA underpinnings

Clean up the OS API set, and expose more information and features to the applications in more of an object 'oriented' nature. Developers should not have to recreate the wheel for gesture and touch type interactions in every applications, and with a consistent OS API model exposed, it would offer more consistency between applications.

A stronger development set of tools that are Android specific and can leverage current and new features that don't fit the current development model tools available.

Integrated networking hubs for gaming and new technologies.

They are currently doing expanded hardware input support models, but this could be taken to a new level where technologies from things like Goggles could be added to the OS API set.


Chrome is fairly lackluster at this point...

The first major problem of Google not having enough online tools and infrastructure to handle basic user needs. MS Live is more featured and it is young by just having its new basic architecture in place and even though it does more than Google.

The second major problem with Chrome, is it is just another Linux distribution with the exception that it is fairly crippled by what Google thinks the Application layer should look and work like.

Google should stop tyring to massage what is there and instead do a ground up design of a new OS technology like Microsoft did with NT back in the early 90s. Then they could focus the kernel on new technologies and be designed around their online service model instead of trying to make Linux do what it was never designed to do.


Chrome has no appeal over running Win7 on the same device, with Win7 polymorphic enough to be fast on light hardware even in it Win7's current state. Win7 on a 1ghz CPU and 1GB of RAM is about 10x faster than an iPad browsing the internet or doing basic light 'device' operations.

(And look for MS UI update to Win7 that adds a lighter OS UI model more like WP7 that can be the best of both worlds, functioning as a fast portable device that does portable device things, and yet can jump into running Autocad or Photoshop if the user needs access to more powerful applications. Without Adobe having to write a WP7 or device version of Photoshop.)