Home Google’s Eric Schmidt: Chrome OS One of the Most Important Developments of His Working Life

Google’s Eric Schmidt: Chrome OS One of the Most Important Developments of His Working Life

Google CEO Eric Schmidt wrote a blog post today about why the network computer failed and how cloud computing has made it possible to support a Web-based operating system.

Schmidt calls the announcement of the Chrome OS notebook earlier this week one of the most important developments of his working life. He says the news is testament to the advancement of computer science that allows developers to use lightweight tools supported by complex back-end systems to create products and services that are easy for people to use.

In the early 1980s, Schmidt worked at Sun Microsytems on the 3M computer. M stood for one megapixel, one megahertz and one megabit. Schmidt said that as part of that, Sun introduced a diskless computer.

In 1995, Netscape did its IPO. The browser was born. By 1997, Schmidt was part of a group that launched a network computer. The effort failed. The infrastructure was not there.

It was a time when the Web was still nascent in its development. On the other hand, IT had become central to corporate strategy. That power rested in providing desktops that provided powerful capabilities to knowledge workers everywhere.

Today, the networked computer is back and the Web is becoming the simple interface for complex systems, powered by technology that has followed the path of Moore’s Law. The cloud provides a foundation that makes it possible to support a networked computer and operating system. The browser is the front-end for business and consumers to do their work and conduct personal tasks.


“Chrome and Chrome OS are possible today for several reasons. First, time. Moore’s law is a factor of 1,000 in 15 years–so 15 years ago versus today, we have 1,000 times faster networks, CPUs and screens. That’s a lot more horsepower at the networking and disk level, which means the disks are faster, and the network is more reliable. Then, technology. Asynchronous JavaScript XML, or AJAX, came along in 2003/04, and it enabled the first really interesting web apps like Gmail to be built. All of a sudden people were like “Wow! This web thing is actually kind of useful … I can write some pretty interesting applications and they can update themselves!” And then a more general technology now known as LAMP, which stands for Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP–and Perl, Python and various other Ps–evolved as a platform for the back-end.”

The Chrome OS is a new alternative to the desktop. The network is reliable and the disk, as Schmidt says, has disappeared.

Schmidt points to Chrome OS but there are many examples of how the convergence of powerful back-end systems, big data and lightweight applications have lead to simplicity for people in work and their personal lives.

Schmidt’s post is a reminder that cloud computing is a powerful force but it is the combined convergence of faster networks and new dynamic programming languages that have also provided us with entirely new ways to innovate.

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