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TechCrunch dubs Linux a 'big ol’ bag of drivers'

If you add an OS to Chrome, it's an OS

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Fail and Googasm Google has announced the Google Chrome Operating System, which is the Chrome browser bundled with a Linux kernel and a handful of hardware drivers, targeted at netbooks. Yes, this time it's actually an operating system, but don't cream yourself. Yet again, there is a severe case of the media not knowing what the fuck it's talking about.

When Google Chrome was released last year, pundits completely lost their shit over it, claiming that Chrome was a new web operating system. Meanwhile, I pointed out that in fact it's a web browser and that an operating system is a very complicated piece of software that can't really be written off as "implementation details." Now, I guess Chrome is going to be even more operating-systemy, by way of including, uh, an operating system. Journalistic logic rocks.

The pundits are losing their shit all over again, which is fairly impressive, because multiple Googasms from a single product are very rare. Last year, I highlighted the glorious incompetence of writers who fancy themselves tech journalists. Much in the way that everybody who saw Sideways is now an expert on wine, the tragedy of blogging is that anybody with a laptop and a Gmail account is an expert on technology. So now that Chrome will actually be a full-fledged operating system, let's see what the experts have to say.

The canonical example of failure in tech journalism is TechCrunch, a blog that once declared Google's MapReduce to be a system that "reduced the links found on the web into a map that search algorithms could run over." Yes, this will do nicely. TechCrunch embodies all that is wrong with blogging as journalism: shoddy fact checking, writing that would fail a high school English class, and a pre-adolescent in-the-brain-out-the-mouth reporting style.

TechCrunch, um, editor Michael Arrington quotes my previous El Reg article about Chrome not being an operating system and goes on to explain:

Purists complained that a browser isn’t actually an operating system, and brought up mundane issues about hardware drivers, memory, and processor management and other red herrings. Sure, they were right - the Chrome browser isn’t an operating system...

Google just bolted a big ol’ bag of drivers (also known as the Linux kernel) to Chrome and are calling it the Google Chrome Operating System. It’s going to be hard for people to continue to deny its operating systemness now.

Proof that you can lead a horse to water, but you can't punch him in the dick without being brought up on assault and battery charges. I'm sure that Linus is pleased to see that his decades of research into operating systems amounts to nothing more than a big ol' bag of drivers for getting people to Twitter faster.

When Chrome was first released, journalists loved the idea that Google was taking on Microsoft, but it just wasn't so. Now that Google will be releasing an operating system, the Goliath vs. Goliath story gets a little clearer. Yes, Chrome OS will be competing with Windows in the netbook market, which is the a tiny sliver of the PC market. No, Chrome will not replace Windows in the years to come. Let's all just calm down.

TechCrunch goes on to report: "Don’t worry about those desktop apps you think you need. Office? Meh. You’ve got Zoho and Google Apps. You won’t miss Office."

Ah, yes. Corporate IT workers everywhere have to port decades of esoteric business logic codified into Excel macros to Google Spreadsheets, but the real problem is, what are they going to do after lunch? Have you ever tried to use Google Docs for any serious task? In the words of a true hacker, it's like trying to build a bookcase out of mashed potatoes. The Microsoft Office institution will not easily be overthrown by a bunch of jokers writing JavaScript.

But it's not just Office that will keep Microsoft's hold on the PC market. Can you replace Active Directory with a web app? Is there a site I can visit to connect to my office's shared printer? What do you mean World of Warcraft doesn't run in the browser? How do I play a DVD in Google Chrome?

Keep whackin' away on that Pareto Principle and let us all know how it turns out. In the meantime, I'm going to go play a few rounds of Counterstrike on my Windows-based PC, because the best that my browser can do is Tetris. I'm sure that HTML5 will bridge that gap any day now.

The notion that Google Chrome OS is going to take any serious market share away from Windows is a product of the pathological Silicon Valley attitude that newer is always better, even if nothing has changed. In terms of functionality, web apps have been a regression from their desktop counterparts. Run business apps over a faulty network instead of from your hard disk? What could possibly go wrong? Can I buy an extended warranty with that?

As Mike Arrington says: "The Internet Is Everything. All the OS has to do is boot the damn computer, get me to a browser as fast as possible and then stay the hell out of the way."

Indeed. That's probably why desktop Linux machines with Firefox have already taken such a foothold in the consumer market.

Oh, wait. ®

Ted Dziuba is a co-founder at Milo.com You can read his regular Reg column, Fail and You, every other Monday.

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