Google, Microsoft, the Cloud and You
Notes: This is something I posted on my Google+ (is it odd that a primarily Microsoft oriented consumer would actually love Google+?) about two weeks back that was part of a larger project I attempted (and failed at), and I figured it wouldn't be a terrible idea to dress it up a bit and post it here, in Googleplex. I mainly compare and contrast ChromeOS to Windows RT, and talk (type) to a lesser degree about the consumer tech industry at large. So, I think its time we blow this scene, get everybody and their stuff together, okay 3 2 1 let's jam!
The Prodigal Son Returns
After coming back to ChromeOS after more than half a year later I see that not a whole ton has changed, everything is still simple and to the point without contrived processes, most everything is done through the browser (Chrome Apps still haven't really taken off), the integration of Google services is still first class and superior to all other operating systems, bar none. In an odd sort of sense, it feels like returning home, and it isn't at all unfamiliar or alien.
I've never been the type of person that could ever really be labeled as a "power user", I've never been the type to get caught up in the latest apps, or the most powerful applications for the job. In fact, when it comes to software I've always been the type who preferred the simplest and best designed approach, and this is where ChromeOS has always excelled, it takes your focus away from the software and aims it toward the task at hand.
Chrome is Enough
I have found that most of Google's services are ample enough for the common consumer (because contrary to popular internet belief most people don't know what pivot tables are, let alone care whether their devices are capable of editing them), and that in a world where phones outsell all other computing devices, the internet isn't but a click of the data sharing toggle away.
However, Google's ChromeOS no longer has a monopoly on simplicity, Microsoft's Windows RT, much like ChromeOS has been a bit of an underdog in the race for a more mobile future, but that isn't where the similarities end, in using both operating systems I have found a similar philosophy in what the future of computing should be, and how cloud first technology is what will be most beneficial for consumers of all types and professions.
One of the key selling points to ChromeOS is Google Drive, or more specifically, the integration of Google Drive on an OS level. Never before had using the Cloud been so profoundly easy or intuitive, you could hardly notice a difference in whether or not files were native or stored on the cloud, and in both cases files in the cloud or stored natively to the device were just as easily accessible. This is something Microsoft has picked up on, and just like ChromeOS, files stored in the cloud are accessible at every turn. Go into the photo app and you can see photos stored on the computer and through OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive), go into XBox Music and you can listen to music that is on the device itself as well as the music stored in the cloud. Even the File Explorer makes OneDrive files reachable, just like in ChromeOS. What is even more exciting is the fact that we can now store files natively to OneDrive itself and bypass the File Explorer all together.
Google has gone above and beyond simple integration though, Google has made processes as dreaded as saving files a thing of the past with their web properties and services. Everything is saved as you do it, this has been something that I had gotten far too used to (there was one time when using the school computers to edit a document where I completely neglected to save the changes due to the fact that I was just so used to exiting the window when I was done). Microsoft has done a great job with this as well, with services such as Office 365 which has much of the same functionality that native Office has with the benefits of the cloud, and Office Online, the office suite that most closely mirrors Google's.
Services > Operating System
It is my belief that in today's tech environment the services are taking front stage and are becoming more important than the operating system itself, in fact the operating system almost becomes a second thought for me, as preference in services dictates which direction I go in, Google's offerings with ChromeOS, or Microsoft's with Windows.