Google has confirmed that it is working on an operating system called Chrome. It will be a rival to Microsoft Windows, a zillion flavours of Linux, the Apple operating system and any other minority systems of which you might be aware.

A lot has been said across the web about how this will affect Microsoft's market share. My own view is we'll see. An equal amount has been said about how damaging this will be to Linux in the netbook market. That seems likely. It could push the Mac even further into the minority system ghetto.

None of this even touches what's going to be Google's biggest problem if it goes ahead with the announcement as planned.

A long time ago when I started freelancing, the Federal Trade Commission took issue with Microsoft's bundling Internet Explorer with Windows. The case went on for ages, it got mixed up with other stuff like Microsoft's Passport idea and it was settled, bit by bit - Microsoft's confirmation that the passport issue was settled is here, there are other sources around the Web. Anyway, as far as America is concerned this is pretty much a dead case.

In Europe it's different. That might not make much difference to American readers - in fact it probably shouldn't, otherwise why bother having separate judiciaries? But in Europe, the anti-trust feeling has been strong enough to lead Microsoft to issue the next version of Windows without Internet Explorer.

This is going to be important to Microsoft. It's likely to lose a lot of goodwill from consumers who suddenly have to buy or otherwise acquire a new browser which they perceive as part of the OS anyway. Microsoft would probably agree with them but its hands are tied.

Into this market Google is about to walk. Let's assume delivery dates are met. Let's assume it gets a foothold in the market. These are big assumptions I grant you - but let's make them. Then let's take a step back: not only is Google likely to tie its browser rigidly to its OS, it hasn't even had the nous to give it a different name. Is Europe going to like this rigid tie-in? History suggests not.

And if Google does have to separate the two out in Europe then there will be many confused consumers finding their Netbooks won't work because they have Chrome OS installed, but not Chrome Browser. Resellers will have to ask whether people would like Chrome with their Chrome. They will have to explain that buying something with Chrome isn't good enough, you need Chrome as well.

I'd pay for tickets to watch customer service departments dealing with that.

I am using "Chrome" to view this, but I thought it just a browser (works quicker and slicker for me than Explorer) not an OS. I run XP, and Explorer still works in parallel, would be interested in knowing more on this...

Chrome at this stage is indeed just a browser - but according to the Google link I've included in the blog, it's also going to be the name of the new operating system. Cue complete confusion...

I don't know if you intended this, but your federal trade commission link links to "feed the children". Probably a better place to head anyway. ;)

Do you homework, moron.
The issue is not with an OS bundling its own Browser to the exclusion of others.
The issue is one of a Monopolist bundling its own Browser to the exclusion of others. Take away the monopoly and the issue evaporates.
FFS. It's this type of tardy journalism that gives the internet a bad name.

There are a few problems with this. First Microsoft used to have a monopoly on the desktop OS. It used it's bundling of the browser and IE specific web implementations to lock people into that OS and browser. Google on the other had has a zero percent share of the dekstop OS market. I also don't think Google intends to try and take over the desktop market. I think they're more focused on innovation and possibly bringing those innovations from a web based OS into the general web/browser communities. Aside from that Chrome OS will be open source. Anyone can take it and modify it as they see fit. There is no abuse of power or vendor lock in there. Also this is an OS that will be built from the ground up around their browser technology which is completely (well as close as anyone gets) standards compliant. They didn't throw in a browser and use that browser to tie a large majority of the web surfing world to their OS.

Thanks for the comments, particularly shagbag - always good to have a constructive attitude and an intelligent response. I'm well aware that the issue with Microsoft was initially about its monopoly but by now it's losing market share to Firefox and other competitors. Here's a link:

...and yet Europe is still forcing it to unbundle IE from the next version of Windows. Now, not in the past. There is still an issue and it's no longer about monopolies because that monopoly no longer exists. In terms of the scale of Google's likely market share I agree it's likely to be small at first, but then so was its share of the internet search market initially. On those grounds I believe my point still stands; clearly you don't have to agree but the suggestion that it's unreasoned or indeed moronic doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

In terms of the allegation of tardy journalism I should point out that 'tardy' means late. Quite frankly it's this poor use of the English language that gives the Internet a bad name.

So that's a fairly strong argument for improving IT education so that end users can make informed choices about the mix of software on their machines.

We should start by making schools infrastructure and software strictly standards based and teaching the use of computers and software, not any particular packages.

Thanks Allan, that's useful input. I have to admit that although I can see your point, there's also an argument that says that education needs to be pragmatic and if kids are more likely to come across Windows/IE in their working life that's what they need to prepare for. Also there's an argument that says a teacher needs to have a standard package they can teach rather than have one of the kids wanting to learn on Ubuntu, another on Puppy Linux and soforth. There's a broader argument that says that if education is perceived as anti- any individual company that's fundamentally unjust.

I haven't thought these things through and don't really have a strong view on where I stand, but they're issues that are ripe for debate.

admoore Thanks, I typed .com instead of .gov, almost like a reflex. I've asked the Powers that Be to amend this and I'm sure they'll get right to it.

link fixed. :)