5 factors that are set to challenge the dominance of Windows in the future.

Taking a look at the recent Microsoft financial result for Q2 ending 31 Dec 2009, one thing that stands out is the fact that Windows is still the major cash cow for MS. It is in this light that I believe the following five things are likely to give MS execs sleepless nights in 2010 and beyond.
Falling hardware prices
The more the prices of hardware falls, the lower is MS able to charge the OEMs a per unit installation license for Windows. Given the fact that hardware prices have fallen drastically in recent years and are set to do so in the foreseeable future, Ballmer may not be sleeping well at all.
Desktop Linux
No I’m not going to say the year of Linux is here and now. But whatever the case, the relatively increasing popularity of Linux among the general masses-spearheaded by Ubuntu-is set to cause some discomfiture to MS execs.
On the smartphone platform, Android is set to make life very difficult given the fact that the almighty Google itself is now directly competing with its own hardware branded phone. Tough luck MS.
Change of landscape
In years gone by, one used an OS for almost all of their tasks. Today however, the OS is increasingly becoming only a means for users to access the web on their PCs where it ends. Almost everything that can be done with the OS can be done in a browser. In fact, the browser is the most important piece of software on the machine of almost everyone out there. What this means is the increasing growing irrelevance of a mostly bloated, full fledged OS like Windows. With this shift comes search for a lighter, and web centric OS.
Google Chrome OS
In steps Google Chrome OS. Flowing from the previous post, Google Chrome is set to be the world’s first web centric OS that has a browser at its core. The aim of such an OS is to get you online in seconds. With everything shifting from the desktops and hard drives of users to the ‘cloud’, I can foresee Windows gradually being left in the dust. More insomnia will naturally be the result.
For over two decades, Windows has been the single most dominant piece of software known to man. However, I am deeply convinced that such a situation is about to change. The change is not going to happen overnight, neither is it going to happen within one year. 
It is going to be a combination of factors, mostly those outlined above and others, that are going to cause the gradual decline of Windows and with it cause MS execs to suffer serious insomnia. Of course I’m holding the assumption that Windows stays as it is without changing.

Who knows, maybe Windows is planning a WebDows edition to counter Google Chrome. However, all things being equal, recent developments in the tech arena has made it clear that the only way for one to stay on top is to keep up with the times via innovation. MS is yet to learn this lesson and this will cause its execs lots and lots of discomfiture. What do you think?

Who wants some quick and cool cash?

“Today, we are introducing an experimental new incentive for external researchers to participate. We will be rewarding select interesting and original vulnerabilities reported to us by the security research community. For existing contributors to Chromium security — who would likely continue to contribute regardless — this may be seen as a token of our appreciation.
“In addition, we are hoping that the introduction of this program will encourage new individuals to participate in Chromium security. The more people involved in scrutinizing Chromium’s code and behavior, the more secure our millions of users will be.”
To cut a long story short, Google is going to pay you anything from $500 to $1337 for the discovery of security vulnerabilities in either Google Chrome the browser or Chromium the code base. What is the objective I hear you ask? Well Google says they want to see more and more people get involved in the Chromium project and also to make the browser a lot safer.
The natural reason I can think of for this move is to get Chrome the browser well prepped for the uphill task of its metamorphoses into an OS. What would be more embarrassing than a ChromeOS full of security bugs and leaks?
I also think it is a welcome news for those really great developers and programmers out there that spend time bringing those security vulnerabilities to light. This move, Google acknowledges is influenced by the Mozilla 
Security Bug Bounty Program. So if you want some cool cash, then keep an eye out for some security flaws in Google Chrome and you could have a great time.

Ad blocking extensions – Any threat to Google revenue?

Google Chrome the browser extension is now live though in beta with some 300 or so extensions available. This follows in the heels of the beta release of Chrome the browser for Mac OSX 10.5 or later and Linux. One of the notable extensions that people will actually be using is ad blocking extensions. What I am actually wondering is how Google’s revenue is going to be impacted (if at all) by ad blocking extensions like Adsweep and adThwart.
It really looks ironic to have a Google browser that has some extension which does not show ads, considering the fact that Google is the biggest ad company in the world. I actually have no doubt in my mind that Google already looses quite a lot of money thanks to the legendary Ad Block Plus on Firefox. I am also wondering what kind of relationship Google is going to have with ad blocking extension developers for the Chrome browser.
Knowing how popular ad blocking extensions are on Firefox, will Google’s revenue be impacted when such popularity is repeated with the Chrome extensions? I know Google is quite bigger than these hypothetical threats to it revenue, but then what happens when it becomes mainstream knowledge that there are extensions that can actually block ads from your browser? What happens to its revenue when using an ad blocking extension becomes almost a must for users?
It is too early to tell and Google is a company that can hardly be predicted. However, I would be grateful if you also share your views with me on whether you think ad blocking extensions, especially on its own browser, are a threat to the revenue of big G. I know Chrome has less than fifty million users, but hey, that could change with the advent of the much hyped Google ChromeOS.

The Linux fanboys- Now taking the cheersong to ChromeOS.

If you were not living in a cave or just descended from another planet, you already know about the so called ChromeOS preview that was held by Google sometime last week. And since that time, one notable theme you notice on various Linux blogs is the same old chorus you’ve heard for Lord knows how long- “ChromeOS is going to unseat Windows,” “ChromeOS is going to make Windows obsolete,” “2010 will be the year of Linux thanks to ChromeOS.” I could go on and on.
Don’t you think it’s funny and somehow ridiculous? ChromeOS is not yet born and yet people are already predicting how it is going to unseat something as deeply rooted both in the minds and lives of people as the Window OS. All we were shown by Google were if you like prototypes (very dump of the SE giant to not have released something for users to try) and people think such a concept will usher in the mythical ‘year of Linux’ in 2010.
I have always been of the view that the Linux world is very much full of sentimentalists rather than ‘pragmatists’ and ‘realists’. The cheersong is now being sung for ChromeOS, not long ago it was Ubuntu, then not long before that it was Fedora and on and on. First of all, I am not one of those who are enthused about this concept of an OS called ChromeOS. I am not interested in ceding control of my entire life in the name of portability to  another company, much less an advertising one. And I think so do most of you.
The general concept behind the ChromeOS is nothing new. In fact, in a previous post, I’d asked the rhetoric question that if the main currency of ChromeOS is how fast it will boot, then what happens if say the Lucid Lynx succeeds in also booting at that same time. What else is Google going to put into Chrome that we cannot have in any of the Linux distros out there? What is going to be so different about ChromeOS that it will cause the over 2 billion people out there to shun Windows and embrace it with wide open arms? Not to talk about the enterprise world.
If there is any serious threat or any OS that can unseat Windows (not in the next 10-20 years unless MS does something real stupid like the Vista blunder), it is Ubuntu and MacOSx. But seeing that Apple is not interested in the dollar of every Tom, Dick and Harry, that leaves Ubuntu as the only contender. The fact that Google is behind ChromeOS does not make it any more of a serious threat. If you want an example, look to the foundation of the ChromeOS, which is the Chrome browser. One year on and how is it fairing relative to IE? What happened to all those predictions about how it would be the IE killer?
I have said it time and again that the ChromeOS will only at best create its own niche market that it’d satisfy rather than upset the existing status quo. Of course in the early days of its release ‘this time next year’, there will be a spike in usage. What I think the Linux fanboys- most of whom have the platform to reach a very wide audience- should be doing is to point out to Google to rethink the OS design and concept again. If it is going to be only a browser that will require an internet connection even for the mundane of tasks, then I can confidently say to the fanboys- Google ChromeOS will not unseat Windows nor usher in the mythical ‘year of Linux’.

What if Ubuntu Lucid Lynx boots in 10 seconds?

This morning after performing my morning ritual of coffee 🙂 brewing and going through my reading list, one theme that I noticed about all blog posts on Google ChromeOS was how fast it would boot. Other than that, I could not pinpoint anything ground breaking about it. Yes there would be only a browser in the OS and surprisingly, what I hardly hear people talk about is the insane bandwidth that will be required to run such an OS.
Like my good friend Helge pointed out, in some parts of Africa, you have a whole university with something like a 4MB/S internet speed to share. Now this effectively rules out the use of ChromeOS whatsoever. What then came into my mind was, what if Ubuntu Lucid Lynx, which makes its debut in April 2010 and is an LTS, succeeds in booting at 10 seconds, which by the way is what the developers are aiming for?
If most of the anticipation surrounding ChromeOS is about boot time, then will people also sing Ubuntu anthems if Lucid boots in 10 seconds? Ubuntu is able to give you most of what Google ChromeOS is promising. You can at present choose to do everything in the cloud just by booting your Karmic and calling up your Firefox.
You can choose to use Ubuntu One for easy file syncing or even Dropbox, you can choose to use Google Docs or Fakeoffice, you can do a lot that ChromeOS is promising with your current Ubuntu install. And you can still edit those pictures without having to get online, or watch a movie without needing any net connection. Hell even Windows XP can do all of that. And btw, with ChromeOS, you would be entrusting your entire digital life to the ‘cloud’, which is a nice euphemism used to describe the servers of others like Google, which incidentally (or ironically?!!) is an advertising company
So if the hottest currency of ChormeOS is boot times and even my current Karmic install boots in 20 seconds max, then what’s so revolutionary about it? Of course it is the first post internet OS and is the only OS that is a browser. But other than that what else? Almost everything that is promised can be done with existing OSs with even more user control. And please don’t say security, Ubuntu for me is as secure as I can get.
Frankly, I see all this noise being so because it is Google behind it and nothing else. We all know Google is a company with a lot of clout. I strongly believe if it were a company like say Canonical that were proposing such a project, Mark Shuttleworth would have become the laughing stock of many bloggers by now. So once again I ask you, what if Ubuntu Lucid Lynx boots in 10 seconds, that being very possible considering the fact that the same developers are working on both projects?

Linus Torvalds – Time for a Nobel Peace Prize?

I was reading through my morning Google alerts when this story caught my attention. It is an article in which the writer is of the view that it’s high time the father of Linux, Linus Torvalds is awarded with the Nobel Prize for Peace. Below is the story from Ridenbaugh Press/Northwest.  Read it and tell me what you think.
“Former Vice President Al Gore’s visit to Portland today and tomorrow has prompted some Nobel Peace Prize thoughts, and in Oregon the idea of nominating a Northwesterner. The prospect shot around the Portland-area Linux circles (drawing some debate as well as approval as it did), starting with this email from Keith Lofstrom:
“Since the Nobel Peace Prize is often given to politicians, some disagree with the choices. But it is often given to non-politicians who create international efforts to change the world for the better.

    Look at the massive international efforts represented by SC09, and realize that much of it started from the work of a 21[-year-old] Finnish college student named after 1962 Nobel Peace Prize winner Linus Pauling. It would be fitting to honor that international effort by giving a Peace Prize to Linus Torvalds, perhaps in 2011 on the 20th anniversary of the August 1991 Linux announcement, or in 2012 on the 50th anniversary of Pauling’s award.

    Linux is one of the largest cooperative international efforts ever undertaken. It inspired Ubuntu, One Laptop Per Child, and many other global projects. Linux conquered the supercomputer space, the server space, the embedded computer space – by peaceful means! Linux helped sequence the human genome, helps protect the world computer infrastructure from viral attack, and is now the pathway for millions to learn computer programming and participate in new international efforts.

    The 2007 Nobel Peace Prize recipient (a politician some disagree with, please disagree in a different thread, thanks) is giving the keynote to SC09 as I write this. Meaning that we are all three handshakes away from the people that decide on future Peace Prizes. Perhaps it is time to launch some messages through our connections and see what makes it to the committee meetings in Oslo.

    According to the list on Wikipedia, the five people to convince are Thorbjørn Jagland (chair), Kaci Kullmann Five (deputy chair), Sissel Rønbeck, Inger-Marie Ytterhorn, and Ågot Valle. We can start by sending them Norsk language Ubuntu disks.

    While I imagine Linus Torvalds would be embarrassed by the attention, it would sure make his parents happy. And it would mean one less Peace Prize for a politician.”

That list of Linux-related or -inspired developments is only partial. Here in the Northwest, for example, we could add the Free Geek operations in Portland, which do a lot of good for not only the low-income people and non-profit groups they are specifically aimed to help, but also almost everyone who comes into contact with them. The effects though have been world-wide, and are accelerating. And could grow faster with a little more attention.

Probably not a lot of Northwest people outside the Linux community know about Torvalds, or that he lives in the Portland area, or that this is one of the true open-source centers around the globe. This would be a dramatic way to find out. “

My views.

In as much as I would love to see someone  the stature of Linus Torvalds claim that prestigious prize, I think it is too early to call it for him. Though Linux has played an important role in the advancement of computing, I still think it’s achievements have been overshadowed by its sometimes extreme dogmatism. For instance, there are those to date who detest the mere mention of the words Linux and profitability in the same sentence.
Also, there are those who do not hesitate to brand as traitors anyone that dares to include some element of proprietary software in a Linux distro, irrespective of the benefit such an inclusion sometimes brings. Though Linux has made great strides in the server market, it is yet to show similar advances in the desktop market. I must however admit, that some distros like Ubuntu and Fedora are really putting Linux onto the desktop of the masses albeit at a slow pace.
I think 20 years is enough time for Linux to have made more gains on the desktop than it currently enjoys. For me, though the server market is very important given today’s highly connected way of living, I still think the success of an OS should be measured by its market share on the desktop. And in this regard, our venerable Linux still has a long way to go.
So if  the call is being made because of Linux, then IMHO I think it’s not yet time. Maybe after the much hyped Google ChromeOS makes it debut and helps move Linux some more into the mainstream, then we can talk again about this call. But for now, I think it’s just not time. What do you think?

The Google ChromeOS – Not the Linux messiah.

Yesterday was a busy day at the Googleplex. Google officially open-sourced the Chromium OS and also gave a preview of what to expect “this time next year.” Indeed, most of the rumors that had been going circulating in the blogosphere about what to expect were confirmed. You can read the full launch details from the Official Google Blog or take a look at this video. What I want us to look at is the possible impact it will have on the wider Linux market relative to the behemoth called Windows.
First of all, I strongly believe the ChromeOS is not a threat to Ubuntu (will talk about that in a later post)  as some people think, neither is it going to be the all powerful tour de force that most Linux proponents hail it to be. From what I can see, it is clear that Google is bringing Chrome for one simple reason: to get more people to use even more Google products and services. If you look at the recent spate of activities that have been going on at Google- the number of acquisitions, the talk of SPDY, the GO programing language among others-it is clear that ChromeOS is the means through which Google would get you to use more of their babies.
Though built on the Linux kernel, “it’s all about the web. All apps are web apps. The entire experience takes place within the browser and there are no conventional desktop applications. This means users do not have to deal with installing, managing and updating programs.” This then begs the question, will it be the Linux messiah? Will ChromeOS make 2010 the year of Linux? Looking at the desktop OS market dynamics, I can say no.
This is a purely web based OS, though you can argue that it’s a first. But other than that, I cannot see how it is going to help Linux make any significant market gains at the expense of Microsoft Windows. The OS is not going to be an all purpose thing as we are used to, it is going to reside in a browser (the Chrome browser of course) and probably put your stuff in the Google cloud infrastructure.  Is Google going to lock you in on their cloud services such that all your data would reside on their servers? Are you going to have a choice as to what service you want to run with your ChromeOS? How secure would it be (Google thinks it will be super)?
Linux is competing with Windows which is a desktop OS that runs applications locally on the OS, independent of the internet. I cannot foresee in the near future how people will be  willing to abandon  Windows in favor of Linux because ChromeOS runs in the cloud. I can also not foresee businesses switching to ChromeOS because it is from Google and runs on the web. In any case, the recent spate of Google server blackouts is a cause for concern.
Seriously, I think the concept is not bad but the application of it is the problem.
Given Google’s hopeless way of releasing applications (eg one year on and there is no Chrome browser ready for Linux), it will take a long time to get ChromeOS ready for the standard desktop computer. Seeing that there are more people that use desktop computers than netbooks- with that possibly staying so for a long time- ChromeOS will at best be an insignificant part of the market.
Linux will need a company the size of Google to make any noteworthy headway. But the way in which Google is going about its OS is surely not going to take Linux anywhere. I know ChromeOS is still in development, but from what I have read of ChromeOS, I think it is going to end up being a small player competing with the other 1000+ distros out there rather than Windows.

What happens when Google finally dominates the web?

I love Google for a range of reasons, chief amongst them being the splendid array of products they offer, most of them for free. It is hard to imagine the web without Google. Can you think of how you would be using the web without that company called Google? I can’t. However, recent developments from the Googleplex has got me thinking about what would happen if Google succeeds in dominating the Internet.

What actually served to excite my apprehension was when Google finally announced what I’d thought they would for a long time: the Google Chrome OS. The big G is a company that has succeeded in being indispensable in the lives of millions of internet users from all walks of life. I don’t remember the last time I used the internet without a Google product or service. And I think so do you.

With the announcement of its own OS, Google is finally gunning to solidify its reign on the internet as the god of that massive network. From the little we know of the yet to be released OS, it is clear that the first thing that users will be greeted with will be Google products and services. Given that most people just go with almost anything default, and assuming that Chrome the OS succeeds, then we are going to have more people hooking up to even more Google products.

There is nothing wrong with this assumption on its own. However, the problem arises when Google later becomes too powerful to be challenged by any other company on the web. That is, what happens to you and I when Google eventually becomes the Microsoft of the internet? Or better still, what happens to our privacy when Google finally reaches there? This is company that knows more about my preferences than I do my own self. This is a company that has more data on more people than possibly any other company out there. I just recently logged into the Google Dashboard service and was astounded about how much data they have on me. What happens when such a company becomes a monopoly?

So far Google has managed to live by their motto of “Do no evil,” but will that remain the same when it finally becomes the America of the web? I just read that Google is not that much happy with the current standard of HTTP and has announced its own SPDY or speedy protocol to make the transfer of data on the web lightening fast. All these, coupled with the recent hyper activity coming from Mountain View, are I believe in preparation for the imminent release of Chrome OS.

So again, and I know you have also asked yourself this question before, what happens when Google finally dominates the web? There are those that will say just say don’t use Google products. But that is easier said than achieved. Are we going to keep enjoying all that we’ve come be to used to from Google and still remain as ‘free people?’ Are we going to enjoy our privacy even when Google becomes the Zeus of the internet? Are we going to keep loving Google when it finally dominates the web? You help me answer those questions because I’m at a loss for answers.

5 reasons why Google Chrome OS may not make it.

First of all, according to Computer World’s CyberCynic, the rumor going round that a beta of Google Chrome OS has been released is false. Google has said they have not released any such thing. That said, I have been watching with a lot of interest the buzz surrounding Chrome OS. Many people have different interpretations of what Chrome OS is going to be.
The original Google post that announced the OS itself was very vague and this helped increase the speculation surrounding it. However, gleaning from the later Q and As from the Google Chrome blog and analysis from other prominent blogs, I have identified 5 bottlenecks that Google would have tackle otherwise Chrome OS may not make any meaningful impact on the OS market.
Reason 1- Microsoft
Microsoft Inc. is the biggest reason why Google Chrome OS may not make any significant impact. Most of the time the strength of MS is underestimated. To give you a typical example, when Chrome the browser was launched, a lot of people touted it as the IE killer. And now one year on, Chrome the browser is still struggling to clinch to the 2% or so market share it has managed to gain. Guess which browser is still the leader. Among the reasons for the development of Chrome OS is for Google to make a direct challenge to MS. However, I doubt if MS would just stand there and watch while Google makes an incursion onto its own turf.
Reason 2 Design
The design of Google Chrome OS is such that the Chrome browser is going to be the center of affairs. Everything is going to revolve around the browser. However, it is not always that I would want to do something on the internet. Sometimes I power my pc to read  a book, or watch a movie or just play cards without ever opening the browser. If Google Chrome OS will require the browser for even mundane tasks like that, then I would simply not use it. I have to say though that the OS is not out so this point remains just a speculation based on what is known about the OS.
Reason 3- Privacy
Google is aiming to make the web the hub of computing. The web itself is not a bad thing. However, what happens when everything I do on my pc is known to Google? From the documents I type to the movies I watch to the news articles I like reading, Google will know all of that. Is Chrome OS also a tool for Google to create a massive data mine it can use for more targeted advertising like it does with Gmail?
Before you counter that Google already knows everything I do online, I would say that is not true. Google only knows what I do when I am signed in to any Google account. Yes the web has no privacy, but I can still type that confidential letter without anyone knowing of it on my pc. That would now be so with Chrome OS and Google Docs.
Reason 4- Reliability
With the recent outages that Google has been suffering, the question that comes to mind is how reliable will the cloud be for an entire OS to be reliant on it? What happens when I have stored a massive amount of data in the cloud only for me to wake up one day and be told my data is gone with the wind just like what happened last week with the

Live Android- run Google Android on your computer.

If you have ever wanted to try Google Android OS, but are not willing to buy a smart phone that runs it, then Live Android is your solution. LIVE Android is a project that lets you download a LiveCD of Android which you can burn onto a disc and run it on your computer.
You can also use the LiveCd in a virtualization program like VirtualBox, VMWare and others without the need to reboot. This is certainly good news to people who wish to get a feel of what Android is and how it works but either cannot afford the phone that runs it or simply do not want to pay for a new phone. There are various download options available for you to get the ISO file.
So go on, try Live Android and get a feel of what Google has to offer. I think you could also use Android to get a taste of what the upcoming Google Chrome OS may be like.