Linus Upson, Google's vice president for engineering in charge of Chrome, recently made some bold comments about his company's upcoming operating system. Google has apparently done some research and found that 60 percent of Windows PCs used in the corporate world are exclusively used for tasks that can be handled in a browser environment. Google wants to hit Microsoft where it hurts.
"Mr. Upson says that 60 percent of businesses could immediately replace their Windows machines with computers running Chrome OS," according to The New York Times. "He also says he hopes it will put corporate systems administrators out of work because software updates will be made automatically over the Web. But the vast majority of businesses still use desktop Microsoft Office products and cannot imagine moving entirely to Web-based software or storing sensitive documents online — at least not yet."
Corporate IT departments aren't going to immediately jump on Chrome OS, and it's not simply because they tend to do things slowly. Upson hopes the OS will put corporate system administrators out of work because software updates will be made automatically over the Web. The system administrators who decide whether to move to Chrome OS or stay on Windows are obviously going to stick with the latter if their jobs are at stake. They will come up with every reason and excuse not to ditch Windows. At the same time, CFOs and CEOs will be eager to move to Chrome OS if it means streamlining IT operations.
Google is planning on releasing Chrome OS on netbooks in the first half of 2011. As part of the "consumer launch," Acer and HP will push out various hardware offerings but none of them will be for businesses. A Google-branded Chrome OS netbook (think Nexus One) will reportedly launch for "friends and family" in December. The search giant says that the main way to differentiate between its two OS offerings is form factor: Android is for touch, Chrome OS is for keyboards.
So what do you think? Would you dump your Windows computer in favor of one running Chrome OS?
Google announced a new feature of Google Docs this week, called Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office. The feature comes from Google's acquisition of DocVese, a company that specialized in the real-time sharing and editing of documents. They paid $25 million for it, and it could turn out to be a huge piece of the puzzle in winning over Microsoft Office users.
Google Cloud Connect lets Office users automatically sync and backup their documents with Google Docs, so they're always accessible on the web and able to be shared with others.
"Users of Office 2003, 2007 and 2010 can sync their Office documents to the Google cloud, without ever leaving Office," says group product manager Shan Sinha in the Google Docs Blog, who went to Google with the DocVerse acquisition. "Once synced, documents are backed-up, given a unique URL, and can be accessed from anywhere (including mobile devices) at any time through Google Docs. And because the files are stored in the cloud, people always have access to the current version."
"Once in the Google cloud, documents can be easily shared and even simultaneously edited by multiple people, from right within Office," Adds Sinha. "A full revision history is kept as the files are edited, and users can revert to earlier versions in one click. These are all features that Google Docs users already enjoy today, and now we’re bringing them to Microsoft Office."
This is one of many steps Google is taking that could have a significant, if overlooked impact on the company's overall strategy. The obvious impact is that it should get more people using Google Docs and more businesses using Google Apps. The idea is that for those who are just continuing to use Microsoft Office, Google is providing a way for them to get their feet wet with not only the cloud, but their version of it.
Google Apps for Business users were able sign up to be an early tester for Google Cloud Connect and Google does state that Cloud Connect will be available for everyone eventually. Due to the unexpected high demand from thousands of businesses in the first few hours of it’s release, Google is no longer accepting beta testers into this program. For those interested, fill out this form if you would like to be notified when Google Cloud Connect becomes available.
A federal judge in San Jose has granted preliminary approval to an agreement calling for Google to pay $8.5 million to settle a class-action lawsuit stemming from the launch of Buzz, the company said on Tuesday.
Last night, Google sent a letter to Buzz users noting that it has reached a class action lawsuit settlement involving its Google Buzz product, which it launched in February of this year.
When Google initially launched Buzz in February, the company created social networks out of people's Gmail contacts. But in a move that was widely criticized by privacy advocates, Google designed the feature so that it initially revealed information about the names of users' email contacts, if users activated Buzz without changing the defaults. This system meant that a host of information that users thought was confidential - like names of Gmail users' doctors, lawyers or coworkers - could inadvertently become public.
Google Buzz users were also concerned that Google immediately began sharing the locations of Buzz users, without providing an initial opt-out option. As a result, Google was sued by Buzz users, and has committed $8.5 million to an independent fund "most of which will support organizations promoting privacy education and policy on the web," Google said yesterday.
Google admitted that its initial launch of Buzz was problematic and revised the service after it was launched. The resolution also requires the company to consider further suggestions for improving Buzz's privacy.
"Just to be clear, this is not a settlement in which people who use Gmail can file to receive compensation. Everyone in the U.S. who uses Gmail is included in the settlement, unless you personally decide to opt out before December 6, 2010," Google added, noting that the Court will consider the final approval of its agreement on January 31, 2011.
Google launched a new Google TV site yesterday, and announced some new content and application partnerships. A few of the apps that will come pre-installed on Google TV devices are Twitter, Pandora, Napster, Amazon and Netflix.
The new Google TV site comes just a couple of days before one of the first Google TV-ready products, the Logitech Revue, makes its debut at a Manhattan press event Wednesday. Sony is expected to have a Google TV-embedded HDTV on tap for the holidays as well.
Each of these companies is talking about their respective Google TV experiences today. From the sounds of it, users are going to be in for some cool things.
Twitter's Carolyn Penner blogged, "The application has most of the features and functionality that you’d expect from Twitter. It makes it easy to look through Tweets, @mentions, and favorites. When you click on a Tweet, you can reply, retweet, favorite, or share it. You will also see additional options depending on the content of the Tweet. For example, you can visit a URL or click a hashtag to search for it on Twitter. If a user is mentioned, you can visit that user’s profile to see their Tweets or follow them. And if there is a link to a photo or video, you can see a thumbnail version. Clicking the link will take you to the site so you can see a larger version of the photo or watch the video."
Pandora's Tom Conrad mentioned, "We're excited about what the Google TV platform means for the future of the Consumer Electronics device industry and for the last few months we've been working together with the Google TV team to deliver a Pandora experience that was built to take full advantage of the TV experience. With Pandora for Google TV you can easily tune in to the personalized stations you've created on the web or on your phone, listen, and rate songs with a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down. You can even create new stations right on Google TV. It's great for parties too -- as you listen, the screen updates with big beautiful album art and information that illustrates what's playing - a great conversation piece for you and your guests."
Netflix actually didn't reveal much about its app specifically, but it will likely operate like the service does on other devices. The Netflix app, for example, will let you tap into more than 20,000 streaming movies and TV shows. Netflix's Rich Ezekiel does say, "We’ll continue to work hard to maximize the flexibility for how, where, and when you want to instantly watch TV shows and movies streamed from Netflix."
John Biggs at CrunchGear wrote about Google TV's secret weapon being video calls from the TV, because of Logitech's Revue product and its ability to work with HD cameras. He calls to mind the buzz around Apple's FaceTime. He certainly makes an interesting point.
Even more interesting is the news that Google TV devices will get full Android Market access "early" next year — meaning you’ll be able to install just about any existing Android app onto your Google TV box.
Meanwhile, Google has revealed a list of websites that’ll be optimized for Google TV’s Chrome browser, ranging from TBS and TNT to the New York Times and CNN. You’ll also be able to watch Web videos on Google TV-ready sites from HBO, Cartoon Network, and Adult Swim, Google says. And yes, Google TV’s Chrome browser supports Flash Player 10.1, which means Web pages with embedded Flash videos and modules will work.
Last month Google announced the newest product to their arsenal, Google TV. Google plans to introduce a box accompanying the TV which intends to make the TV "smarter" by letting you search for content, allowing you to Google TVbrowse the web, view photo albums and more, as Google's video introduction shows (see link below). Google TV, as Techcrunch writes, "It will work as a new box - you'll just hook up your existing cable or satellite box to it. All the hardware will include a keyboard and a mouse - but it will work with Android phones too. And you can use multiple Android devices to control the same TV - no more fighting over the remote."
Techcrunch continues, "Google TV is built on Android (2.1 right now, but they'll upgrade it later). It runs Google Chrome for the browser. And yes, it has Flash (10.1)." Some partners of Google on this, like Sony, will also release TVs with Google TV built in, Techcrunch reports. Techcrunch suspects Google may be going for "advertising to the 4 billion TV users worldwide."
Partner Logitech, on their details page, adds that their companion box will be coming "later this fall", and that "All you need is a broadband Internet connection and a TV with an HDMI input. To take full advantage of the content search, you'll need a satellite or cable box with an HDMI output as well. And, for now, you'll need to reside in the United States."
Rich, smart, optimized and easy? Search for anything then play it on your TV? That sounds awfully fun!
Google TV - Video Introduction
Official Google TV Blog
Google TV Unveiled - Techcrunch
Since 2007, we've been waiting for Google's Grand Central to go live. It's a "grand" idea all right, have your phone calls from all your phone numbers (home, work, cell) routed through a single number. It includes some great features, like the ability to listen to voicemail messages while they were being recorded (like with old fashioned answering machines), creating personalized greetings for individual callers and the ability to switch from one line to another (for example, from your cell phone to your home phone) during a call without interrupting the call. All that, and free! So what's the problem? It's been in beta testing for two years, and only a select number of testers could use it. Now Google has renamed the service Google Voice, and has offered it to the public by invite only. To find out more about it, and to get your invite, click here.