Nobody wants Linux netbooks. Can Google do better?


“The user interface is a very important component for new operating systems,” says Shim. “You have to fight the first impression that it’s different, then you have to sell people why the difference is better.”

What Google should do: Google needs to integrate Gmail, Google Docs, and the Chrome web browser into a package that makes it easier not only to use these individual programs, but also to perform other routine tasks, such as installing new software or modifying. display configurations.

Compatibility with common hardware
Google will also be under pressure to make sure Chrome OS works flawlessly with gadgets like cameras, printers, smartphones, and e-book readers. So far, Linux netbooks have had an uneven track record. Some, like Ubuntu or Red Hat, offer better support for popular gadgets, but users have always encountered compatibility issues.

A recent review of The Wall Street Journal complained that Linux-based netbooks could not load software drivers to print photos on Canon and Dell printers. The review also indicated that there were issues loading images via USB cable from the Canon PowerShot SD750 digital camera on a Dell Mini 10 netbook running Ubuntu.

Another big stumbling block for Google will be iTunes. The popularity of iPods means that many people expect their netbooks to sync with their iPods. However, netbooks running Linux (including Ubuntu) do not support iTunes, which means there is no iPod or iPhone support.

“ITunes itself doesn’t work on Ubuntu, but you can use emulators,” Kenyon explains. “This is something we would like to change.”

It should also be extremely easy to use the hardware preinstalled on your netbook, such as a webcam, Bluetooth connection, or a 3G wireless data card.

What Google should do: Ubuntu and other Linux vendors may not have the clout to get Apple to support Linux, but Google could for Chrome OS. Google and Apple share a close relationship, and Google CEO Eric Schmidt sits on Apple’s board of directors.

In addition, drivers for Wi-Fi hardware or netbook webcams come preloaded with Windows netbooks. Chrome OS will need to ensure that it offers customers the same simplicity from the start.

Resistance to change
PC users can complain about issues in Windows operating system, viruses and Blue Screen of Death. But as unhappy as they are, they don’t beat up any Linux vendor to get a new operating system. More than 80 percent of the billion or more PCs worldwide run some version of Windows, and 96 percent of netbooks run Windows, according to NPD Group.

Changing consumer expectations has been one of the biggest challenges facing Linux vendors. Google will also have to deal with this.

What Google should do: Massive advertising. Fortunately for Google, it is a profession he knows well.

Support from netbook manufacturers
One of Microsoft’s greatest strengths is the relationships it has established with device makers such as Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Asus. As a new entrant, Google will need to work with these PC makers to ensure netbooks come preloaded with Chrome OS. Google can probably make a few deals early, like it did with Android, but to be a force to be reckoned with it needs to ensure widespread availability.

So far, Linux vendors have struggled to fully involve OEMs. PC makers don’t want to jeopardize their relationship with Microsoft, which powers higher margin products like desktops and laptops.

What Google should do: Roll and process to make sure Google Chrome OS is available on as many netbooks as possible.

See also:

Photo illustration: Charlie Sorrel / Wired.com
Original photo: Jon Snyder / Wired.com

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