I’ve always been a big fan of thin clients. In 1989, I had a Unix box running MS Office and dumb terminals set up in my home. Office was nearly identical to the MS DOS version, and each “dumb” terminal had multiple screens (Windows) via toggle and one PC supported multiple users.
Windows took off and it took some time for thin clients to return. Citrix was the big winner, Tarantella, and then Sun offered Sun Rays – while working at GE as an IT Director, we deployed the largest (at the time) Sun Ray deployment around 1999 supporting 100s of users.
I’ve moved most of my services into the cloud. This allows me to, for example, have a travel PC I use just for travel without any setup. Then my desktop PC hard drive crashed and I realized that my life in the clouds was a lie. (I Thought I was so Cloud). It’s similar with the new smartphones – yes everything is in the cloud… but I’ve installed nearly 100 apps on my phone. That’s a lot of ongoing work – Every week at least one needs to be updated. A true thin client does have specialized clients and apps installed locally.
I would love to see a thin client solution for work and home that doesn’t require a bevy of on-premise servers to make it work. Chrome OS could be it. But its first day out (last month) in the form of cr-48 was not received well. Most of the reviews were pretty negative.
As bad as the cr-48 may be, I think Google it could have a strong future. The cr-48 is a stillborn, but if you look at where the industry is heading (cloud and HTML5) and where Google is headed with Chrome (plugins and Cloud Print), and you look at the increasing availability and speeds of broadband networks – the time seems right.
Cloud Print is the fox in sheep’s clothing. Last week Google made the first release of Cloud Print available.
More on ChromeOS
Chrome OS: Market Disruptor has Weak Start
Does the world need yet another desktop operating system? Google thinks so, and is developing an alternative to Windows, Linux, MacOS, IOS and the company’s own Android.
It is an operating system based on Google’s web browser of the same name. Chrome OS is part of Google’s cloud-centric vision, where the desktop device is designed and optimized for the cloud. It also decimates the need for onsite IT servers and desktop support.
Google provided a peek of Chrome OS in December via a limited distribution of a notebook computer dubbed the Cr-48. The computers were available through a Google pilot program for evaluation and proof of concept. The first retail machines featuring Chrome OS from Acer and Samsung will be available mid-2011.
Most reviews of the Cr-48 were neutral to negative, generally questioning the need for yet another OS. Some were outright dismissive. Gmail creator Paul Buchheit predicted Chrome OS will be dead within a year, and TechCrunch described it as “shockingly awful.”