The Google Revolution begins; Will you join the fight?
July now has a third major independence day. Canada on the first. The United States on the fourth. Google on the seventh.
July 7 is the day Google declared independence from Microsoft dependence. It is the day one Google blog post fired the first shot heard at Lexington and Concord. The post might as well be the first paragraph of the US Declaration of Independence:
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the [technological] bands which have [bound] them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all [end users] are created equal, that they are endowed by their [developers] with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
To achieve these goals, Google will develop Chrome OS, which will be available first on netbooks. In September 2008, with the release of Chrome beta, I knew this day would come. I blogged, at Microsoft Watch:
Google's new Chrome Web browser is the new Netscape...Google has big advantages over Netscape a decade ago, and Microsoft should be hugely concerned...Chrome looks to be what Netscape wanted to be: a Web-based operating system that treats Windows like a shell...Chrome isn't just Google's long-rumored Web browser, it's the long-rumored operating system, too.
Now, Google has made its official declaration of independence, and Microsoft is fraked. Microsoft isn't the least prepared to combat the Google OS. The company's priorities are all wrong, when it comes to Google. Microsoft is actually over-obsessed with Google, but focused in the wrong place: Search. Earth to Microsoft: The search wars are over, and you lost. Microsoft's Google search obsession has made the company blind to its rapidly eroding control over technology standards and to the importance of the next-generating computing platform -- the mobile handset. And Microsoft doesn't have an operating system that can scale from cell phones to netbooks to PCs. Apple and Google do.
Last September I warned: "Finally, Microsoft has undeniable reasons to regard Google as a major competitive threat." That threat wasn't from search, but from Android and Chrome. While Microsoft frittered away corporate energies chasing Google search, startups and Apple released cloud and mobile computing products that are outside the software giant's control. Microsoft controls the last-generation application stack: Office-Windows-Windows Server. But there is a new applications stack extending from the mobile device (and for now the PC, too) to the cloud.
Facebook claims over 200 million active users, up from about 150 million six months ago. US Facebook users spent 13.9 billion minutes on the site in April, up 700 percent year over year, according to Nielsen Online. In May, Twitter had 18.2 million unique visitors, for 1,488 percent year-over-year growth, according to Nielsen Online. In May, 95,357 unique viewers watched more than 6 million video streams at YouTube, according to Nielsen Online. Second-ranked Hulu: 382,322.
These social startups are akin to the thirteen colonies. They're united in spirit. Many of these companies use open-source software -- they refuse to pay the Microsoft Tax. They freely share APIs and support those from other Web applications developers. It's live free or die for them. But they've not been united. Until today.
Google has called Web developers to unite around its declaration of independence. Google's Sundar Pichai blogged that Chrome OS will be "open source." He continued:
Because we're already talking to partners about the project, and we'll soon be working with the open source community, we wanted to share our vision now so everyone understands what we are trying to achieve....We're designing the OS to be fast and lightweight, to start up and get you onto the web in a few seconds. The user interface is minimal to stay out of your way, and most of the user experience takes place on the web...Google Chrome OS will run on both x86 as well as ARM chips...The software architecture is simple -- Google Chrome running within a new windowing system on top of a Linux kernel. For application developers, the web is the platform.
"The web is the platform," indeed. I've been saying something similar for years in different terms -- the Web platform, which is how I described Web 2.0. I'll go further and declare -- again -- that the PC era is dead. Long live the Web platform, er, Web 3.0. I predict that Google's declaration of independence will rally together the majority of open-source developers -- the minutemen -- against Microsoft. It's no coincidence that Google's Chrome OS announcement came the same day that Google Apps and Gmail came out of perpetual beta and days before Windows 7 releases to manufacturing.
Google's Chrome OS declaration is really a declaration of war, a revolutionary war of independence from dependence on Microsoft applications and operating systems. Google will fight a guerilla war, like early Americans. Microsoft will engage like the British redcoats, I predict. The question for you: Are you a loyalist or revolutionary? Or from Microsoft's perspective: An open-source terrorist?
Joe Wilcox is an independent journalist living in San Diego. He is former editor of Apple Watch and Microsoft Watch for Ziff Davis; former JupiterResearch analyst; and former CNET News.com reporter. He has been writing about technology for 15 years. Around July 11, he will officially launch a new blog, Oddly Together. He can be reached by e-mail at joewilcox (at) gmail.com.